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2 things you may have learned from the Broncos debacle against the Saints

A Denver Broncos game that should have never happened resulted in a predictable 31-3 blowout loss.

New Orleans Saints v Denver Broncos
Turns out QB5 ain’t QB1 for a reason.
Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

The Saints came into today chasing the number one seed in the NFC. The Broncos came into it without their top four quarterbacks thanks to exposure to Covid-19. Thanks to the late news about ineligible quarterbacks, there was no way to bring in any outside help because of Covid-19 protocols. At one point the coaching staff asked the NFL if Justin Rascati or Rob Calabrese could play quarterback in the game. Their request was declined.

Backed into a corner and unable to forfeit, the Broncos called up Kendall Hinton to play quarterback for the first time since his freshman year of college. You may remember Hinton from his preseason run last year. More recently he’s worked as a practice squad receiver.

I don’t think we really learned anything, but just in case you didn’t know:

Quarterbacks matter. Who knew?

With all the talk about Kendall Hinton and Royce Freeman last night, I kept wondering why we didn’t hear about Lindsay. Through three coaching staffs he’s gotten a snap here and there in wildcat, so I figured the Broncos had some plays in the book for it.

Low and behold, Wild Phil started the day and even led to a first down on the opening drive.

Early on, the script asked for Phillip Lindsay to play in a Wildcat and rotate Kendall Hinton into the lineup for third downs. I didn’t expect Shurmur and the Broncos coaching staff to ask much, if anything from their QB5 who had all of a day to prepare for his first NFL action. Instead they surprised me by dialing up a pass or two on the first five drives of the game. He almost threw three different interceptions and didn’t connect with a receiver. On the sixth drive of the game the Broncos lined Lindsay up at quarterback on 3rd and 1.

In the early third quarter Phillip Lindsay was taken out of the game due to injury. He finished with 9 carries for 20 yards. When he left the lineup, the offense leaned on Kendall Hinton even more. It went exactly how how you feared it would. They finished the game with all of 88 yards of offense.

It’s hard to win with just a defense.

Whether it was DeMarcus Walker getting home on a coverage sack, Justin Simmons calling out a false start, Alexander Johnson stripping Latavius Murray, or Bradley Chubb taking down Taysom Hill to force a punt, it was clear Fangio’s defense didn’t plan to roll over and die.

As the first quarter bled into the second though, the Saints’ rushing attack didn’t let up. Sean Payton leaned on QB Power time and again to take advantage of his tight end quarterback’s strengths.

To their credit, the defense continued to put up fight. It just didn’t matter because the offense had all of one first down in the first half. Because the offense was so hapless, the Saints could survive even while Hill ran Payton’s version of the Tim Tebow offense.

Final Thoughts

Zooming way in to look at individual pieces, there was some encouraging moments in this game. Bradley Chubb and the Broncos defensive line did a nice job pressuring Hill and Brandon McManus made a 58-yard field goal so it wasn’t a shutout. Alexander Johnson, Josey Jewell and the coverage also looked pretty solid.

None of that changes the fact everyone knows this game should have never been played. Hopefully Phillip Lindsay and Bryce Callahan were pulled from the game as a precaution, but as I write this I don’t know. I’d like think years from now those of us who watched this game will look back on it and laugh because we survived ‘til bright days. Again, right now I just don’t know.

If this ain’t rock bottom, we got to be getting close Broncos Country.