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Broncos at Steelers: The No Bull Review

The Broncos were dropping like flies, but fought a good fight anyway. Here are my thoughts, opinions, and analysis on the Denver Broncos’ most recent game.

I’m so torn about this Denver Broncos team.

On one hand, I didn’t necessarily expect them to win this game in the first place...the fact that they were in it at the end was a pleasant surprise. I also had a lot of hope for Drew Lock and the new revamped offense.

But reality strikes hard and in 2020, she is the harshest of mistresses. There are very significant problems with this team and in all likelihood we’re looking at yet another “rebuilding” year where they don’t make the playoffs because of being short on talent and the ability to consistently execute.

More on why below...let’s get to it.

Defense

Denver Broncos vs Pittsburgh Steelers

Vic Fangio is a defensive genius. He’s an old-school mad scientist who makes defenses turn into juggernauts...or so I’m told.

I know we lost Von Miller and that really sucks, but where is the vaunted pass rush? Why in the world are we unable to generate any kind of consistent pass rush on 3rd downs?

This offseason I was pretty excited by John Elway bringing in Jurrell Casey and resigning Shelby Harris. I was definitely stoked that Bradley Chubb was going to be healthy.

But the defensive line has looked completely mediocre. No one is getting anything seriously started up front and the two quarterbacks we’ve faced so far have in general had all day to work through their reads and make plays.

Front 7

NFL: Denver Broncos at Pittsburgh Steelers Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Mike Purcell had the one and only sack of the game for the Broncos. It was impressive as heck. He chipped in a nice TFL on top of it too.

I looked at the stats of the game defensively fishing for anything positive. I did see a handful of quarterback hits, but almost all of them came from linebackers and defensive backs. This front is supposed to be better than that and at some point the coaches need to start demanding more from them up front.

Secondary

Denver Broncos v Pittsburgh Steelers Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images

Michael Ojemudia straight up got picked on in this game. It wasn’t all bad though, with a big time pass defense on 3rd down early to stop the drive. He had a great chance for an interception and let it go through his hands that made me want to weep. But with the good came a lot of bad too with a big TD completion that he got out worked on. My only hope is that he doesn’t read too much into it. He’s a rookie corner in the NFL. He’s going to have bad plays. Bounce back and get after it though, Michael...you have mad talent.

Denver Broncos v Pittsburgh Steelers Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images

Simmons on 3rd and 10 comes in with Alexander on a blitz to bat the ball down and stop the drive. His interception in the game really showed off how much talent he has. Simmons had a really solid game to bounce back from a pretty poor showing in week 1.

Offense

I’m honestly scratching my head quite a bit at the Pat Shurmur offense so far in 2 weeks of play. I know Drew Lock is raw still. I get that the offense is very young. But where is the ingenuity? Where are the little dump offs over the middle behind the linebackers that let our playmakers rack up the YACs? Why aren’t we getting Noah Fant more targets consistently?

I’ve only watched two games so far from Shurmur’s offense and it seems very “Gary Kubiak” to me...and that is not a good thing. The game has passed Kubiak by.

But at the end of the day you can only do so much when you have the worst right tackle situation in the NFL and every team you go against knows it.

Quarterbacks

We didn’t get to see much of Drew Lock, but he had a very nice back shoulder throw to the sidelines to start the game. Lock trying hard to stay up ends up costing him a big hit and injury. I really hope he understands what he’s got at both tackle positions and doesn’t try so hard to get up in the future...it is just asking for disaster.

Denver Broncos v Pittsburgh Steelers Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images

Jeff Driskel comes in and on his first pass takes a big hit, but gets the ball out for good yardage. In his 2nd drive, he rolled out and dropped a dime to Jeudy for a big gain. He had a beautiful pass to Fant for the TD that he dropped at the perfect angle to lead him safely into the end zone.

Line

NFL: Tennessee Titans at Denver Broncos Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Elijah Wilkinson is a joke at right tackle. He was a dumpster fire out there at the end of last season and he is still a dumpster fire at the position. I’ve never understood why this team always holds onto some scrub dude that shouldn’t be on the field as a starter, but they do every damned year and it is maddening. Worse is that the team has ignored the position for year after year of horrendous play leading to our quarterbacks constantly being under duress.

Garett Bolles at least flashed some really nice run blocking in this game. He’s also below average at pass blocking, but there’s at least something there to work with. And hey...he only had one hold this game. That’s not bad, right?

Running Backs

Royce Freeman had a total blown blitz pick up on 3rd and long. It happened more than once honestly with him looking completely clueless on what guy to block. I have to say for a guy who was supposed to be special but got relegated to the 3rd back on the roster this year, I’m pretty disappointed in his preparation for this game. He should have been showing off with Phillip Lindsay out and instead solidified my opinion that he belongs as a depth back who should contribute on special teams.

Melvin Gordon really got it going on the 2nd drive of the game helped by some really huge holes opened up by the line. He didn’t put up gaudy numbers by any means, but he ran well and consistently picked up positive yardage.

Receivers

Denver Broncos v Pittsburgh Steelers Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images

K.J. Hamler with a nice end around play for 10 yards. The team is trying to get him up to speed with 7 targets, but he was only able to nab 3 of those catches. With Courtland Sutton out for the year, the team is going to need him to come along quickly and be the Robin to Jerry Jeudy’s Batman.

Jerry Jeudy with two nice passes receptions from Driskel. The 2nd was in really tight coverage and showed great concentration. He made a great catch over the middle for big yards, but took a big hit on the play. If there is a bright spot through two weeks of the season to date, it is that Jeudy has looked like a real future star with superb quickness and route running ability.

NFL: Denver Broncos at Pittsburgh Steelers Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

I can not say enough about what a mismatch Noah Fant is. He should be getting at least 10 targets per game with the offense working so well through him. The kid is a star in the making if the offensive coordinator would just use him consistently.

Special Teams

The only thing I really noticed in this game was poor tackling by the special teams 1st and 2nd guys to the ball pretty consistently on returns. They need to clean that up because they have the lanes to make the stop, they just aren’t using good form and wrapping up.

Final Thoughts

I can give all the platitudes you want for your beloved Broncos team. We played a playoff worthy opponent with a veteran quarterback and a potent defense.

But at the end of the day, I’m sick of this team losing. I’m sick of making excuses for them. Next week we’ll see if we can make a limp-armed Tom Brady look bad or if he’s going to feast on our rebuilding team like Ben Roethlisberger and Ryan Tannehill.