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Broncos at Chiefs: The No Bull Review

The Broncos put forth a valiant effort against the division rival Chiefs. Here are my thoughts, opinions, and analysis on the Denver Broncos’ most recent game.

NFL: Denver Broncos at Kansas City Chiefs Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

I’m honestly trying not to feel so negative about this game. The team overall looked well prepared and ready to play one of the league’s best teams. We were in it and even had a lot of luck that was helping keep the chefs from blowing the game wide open.

The defense was dialed in. The offense started looking like it was getting back to being sensible at some level. And maybe, just maybe if our quarterback didn’t fold under pressure we could have won this game.

Defense

I don’t know about the future of Vic Fangio here in Denver as a head coach, but one thing I will not question is his ability to coach and prepare his defense for any and all opponents. Keeping the most dangerous offense in the NFL to only 22 points is a feat in all honesty. The Red Zone defense was spot on as well.

Front 7

Denver Broncos v Kansas City Chiefs Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Welcome back, Shelby Harris. Without Von Miller, Shelby Harris has easily been the biggest playmaker for the front 7 this season. He tips passes, collapses the pocket, and is a superb run defender. Had we won, he would have easily gotten my game ball for how disruptive and impactful he was in this game.

I liked what we saw from Malik Reed and Bradley Chubb in the game as well. Since Reed is a 2nd year backup, he was not getting anywhere near the holding calls he should have (though the NFL overall is down on calling them this year as it is). The game plan called for them to not allow Mahomes outside the pocket which is a big reason Chubb’s stat line looks poor.

Secondary

Denver Broncos v Kansas City Chiefs Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images

A.J. Bouye has been looking up and down this season, but in this game I liked what he was showing when he was tested. He broke up passes and did an amazing job closing on a deep pass to the Chiefs’ fastest alleged girlfriend-beating, child-abusing WR.

Offense

I’ve been bagging on Pat Shurmur all season long with the lackluster and unimaginative play calling. I’m beginning to see some reasons that maybe he’s figuring out what I already have: you have a severely under-skilled quarterback you are trying to develop and the offense needs to be very vanilla and simple for him to succeed.

I’ll go ahead and say it: this was Shurmur’s best play calling game so far this season. He got what he could out of the offense and if it wasn’t for the two picks or any one of a handful of woefully inaccurate intermediate to deep passes, we might have pulled out the win.

Quarterbacks

Denver Broncos v Kansas City Chiefs Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Lock has to stop thinking he can make dime throws on great defenders. As he scrambles to avoid a sack early in the game he gets plenty of room and can run, throw the ball away, or try to make a perfect pass while on the run. Of those three options, he chooses the most difficult one and turns the ball over. Lock has a penchant for this at a higher than normal frequency and needs coached out of it.

On 3rd and short in the first half, Shurmur dials up a perfect call with a play action roll out and easy 3 yard completion to the tight end. Unfortunately, such short passes that require you to lead the receiver for success are just too much for Lock to complete and the drive was killed due to a poorly thrown ball.

And as we all dreaded (and those of us who choose to live in a No Bull world), Drew Lock couldn’t help but put the cherry on top of the shit sundae he served up against the Chiefs with another pick to end the game.

On both picks, I’d encourage those of you out there that are still Drew Lock truthers to hop on and look at the All-22 on the throws. Both of them were SMOTHERED routes. Both of them had a crosser in front of him that was open (though to be fair the 4th quarter pick Lock would have had a very short window to get it there before it was covered).

Seriously though...every Bronco fan I interact with directly said the same thing to me after the game, “Well, we all knew it was coming, right?” And that’s why you are seeing me getting more and more down as the weeks pass. This is what I did with Jay Cutler years ago. This is me talking about Lance Ball (shout out to my boy Hondolo, wherever you are!). This is me calling out Rahim Moore for the last couple of years he was with us. There comes a point when you see a player that is no longer improving and it starts becoming really clear that the player is up against some sort of ceiling in their development.

The two pluses I have for Lock right now under QB skills is raw arm strength and mobility. We’re closing in on ending the season which was billed as the “let’s see what we have in Lock” venue. I can tell you the verdict is not going to be good unless some of the teams we play in the last few games sit the majority of their defensive talent.

Line

I’m not noticing much to be negative about from this line. They lose some and they win some in both running and pass blocking. The tackle situation has done a 180 from early in the season and the coach is using designed bootlegs enough to keep Lock out of trouble from some of the inside pressure taking advantage of our rookie C and the dinged up RG.

The running game had holes to run through and did its job well which is a credit to the line.

Running Backs

Denver Broncos v Kansas City Chiefs Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Melvin Gordon had a really good game against the Chiefs. His ability to make guys miss is really showing out lately in his play and it has been a big boost to the offense.

On the other hand, Phillip Lindsay absolutely disappeared with a 1.9 ypc stat on 14 carries. I couldn’t tell if he is dinged up or what, but he couldn’t get to any kind of space that is needed for him to do the kind of work we know he’s capable of.

Receivers

Denver Broncos v Kansas City Chiefs Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Noah Fant is one of the more talented pass receiving tight ends in the game. I see week in and week out him getting space, running clean routes, and knowing where the seams are in defenses to attack. If we got a more talented QB, his numbers would likely be astounding.

Tim Patrick gets an easy TD on a bootleg as the man in motion. It was a great play design, good throw, catch, and run.

K.J. Hamler keeps showing his talent as the season wears on. His ability to make guys miss is special and he got some key catches in the game with extra yards because of his ability to break free of what looks like easy tackles by the defender. I also liked the use of him on an end around as the guy has special speed.

Special Teams

NFL: New Orleans Saints at Denver Broncos Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Tyrie Cleveland made the most of his kickoff returns in this game. I’m a guy who is more of the mindset to take the 25 yard touchback, but teams have been making us run it out with short kicks and having a guy who will get you past the 25 consistently would be a big boon for the team. I’m not sold on him yet (as in previous games his returns have been lackluster), but I’m hoping he can build on this game as the season wears on.

Final Thoughts

I never dreamed the Broncos would win this game, so I’m honestly not that bent about it. What makes me proud as a fan was seeing the team fight tooth and nail until the last minute trying to get the W. It is hard to build your culture when you are losing, but the effort was there and it was worthy.