Here’s what we learned.
Calvin Anderson made his first start and struggled
If you’re active on Broncos’ Twitter, you’re surely aware that Anderson’s social media presence has been quite strong. Dating back to last season he’s been dropping hints about how he just needed his chance and he’d do the rest. Well today, he got that chance. It was ugly.
Just like week 17 last year, the Raiders lined up Maxx Crosby across from the Broncos’ right tackle on most passing downs in order to exploit the obvious mismatch. Anderson also combined with Lloyd Cushenberry to make the Broncos all but none dimensional when they ran the ball.
Hm, I wonder why Drew Lock is throwing so much. pic.twitter.com/kQIKTzgYCt— Joe Rowles (@JoRo_NFL) November 15, 2020
The teams are still garbage
It started with a Diontae Spencer’s opening return to nowhere. It continued throughout the first half. The only notable highlight was Josh Watson’s stick on the kickoff following Brandon McManus’ second field goal.
Vegas’ defense was bad in the first. Denver’s offense was worse.
If the Falcons defense was a great chance to see what this young offense could do, the Raiders looked like a game they had to show something. The early going was rough. Drew Lock checked down in a clean pocket on the first third and five and Pat Shurmur didn’t hesitate to dial up a low percentage front zone fade on the second. The quarter ended two plays after Lock threw into triple coverage on third and very long.
There were encouraging moments sprinkled in, such as the corner route to Jerry Jeudy for 26. Sprinkles don’t do much good when the ice cream tastes like cyanide, however. After taking a shot from Arden Key, Lock gutted out the first half and completed 52% of his passes. He did a nice job hanging tough in the pocket to find K.J. Hamler on a dig route to move into field goal range before the end of the first. He also threw a backbreaking interception after a Noah Fant hold cancelled out a rushing touchdown. I couldn’t help but notice K.J. Hamler open on an out route on the pick, or the fact Fangio still had a timeout.
Drew Lock completes his second pass to Vegas and the Broncos red zone trip ends in ruin. pic.twitter.com/zoL8NF7e5j— Joe Rowles (@JoRo_NFL) November 15, 2020
Callahan was huge. Bouye wasn’t.
The change from last week to this should really hammer home how valuable Bryce Callahan has been this year. With him back in the lineup, the secondary kept the clamps on Henry Ruggs and the Raider passing attack. Through the first half, the Raiders had all of 72 passing yards, most of them coming on a 25-yard catch by Hunter Renfrow against A.J. Bouye and a 16-yard completion to Bryan Edwards against zone coverage.
The run defense was a shell of itself.
Through the first four games of the Broncos’ season, the run defense was a constant. It’s looked like Swiss cheese since. It’s pretty obvious that losing Mike Purcell and Jurrell Casey for the season as well as Shelby Harris today left the line over-matched against the patchwork Raider OL.
DeShawn Williams had a few nice plays getting through the interior, but time after time Josh Jacobs ripped off off positive gains on cutbacks early. As the game wore on, he started to find more and more success on other concepts. In the fourth quarter it got so bad Devontae Booker got his revenge with two touchdown runs.
Jacobs walks in and the Broncos are down two scores as we close in on the 4th. pic.twitter.com/8lVqfuv5Nk— Joe Rowles (@JoRo_NFL) November 15, 2020
This will go down as the shortest “things we learned” post I’ve written in my three years covering the Broncos’ for Mile High Report. The thing is, we didn’t learn much today. We knew going in that the defense would have a tough day without Shelby Harris against the Raider running game. We also knew Jerry Jeudy, K.J. Hamler, and the Broncos’ receivers would find ways to get open against an over-matched secondary.
What we learned is that Mike Munchak made Calvin Anderson his fifth string right tackle for a reason and a quarterback who has struggled to read the field or handle pressure didn’t handle it well. Neither of these facts is surprising, even if they are disappointing. There are still seven games left, which means the clock is ticking on Lock to show tangible signs that he can grow into the guy Broncos’ Country needs him to be.
Keep in mind that even if Drew Lock fails, John Elway's plan to find out what the Broncos have in Lock is a success.— Joe Rowles (@JoRo_NFL) November 15, 2020
It just adds pressure on #7 to get it right in 2021.