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Broncos vs Raiders: The No Bull Review

The Broncos snatched defeat from the jaws of victory against the Raiders to cap off their 2020 NFL Season. Here are my thoughts, opinions, and analysis on the Denver Broncos’ most recent game.

NFL: Las Vegas Raiders at Denver Broncos Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

I honestly can’t remember a season that I’ve been happier to be done with than this one. The team has looked like a lame duck for the back half of their schedule and after years of that being the norm, there just hasn’t been much to be excited about with this team.

The good thing is that it is over and we now get to hope for something better for next season.

Thoughts on Defense

It wasn’t pretty for our defense in this game and that honestly has to be expected when you are putting the NFL equivalent of shoestrings and bubble gum together as your cornerback corps. There wasn’t an answer for Darren Waller to be had and that well was a gift that kept on giving to Derek Carr.

The run game worked for Vegas as well with Josh Jacobs averaging 5.9 ypc.

In a defense riddled with injuries up and down the roster, they couldn’t do enough to get the win.

Defensive Pros

NFL: Las Vegas Raiders at Denver Broncos Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Josey Jewel put together probably his best game of the season. He was often in the right place at the right time leading the team in tackles and even defending a pass.

Justin Simmons got another big interception. He’s the prototype of what you want in a free safety in today’s NFL. Hopefully, he signs a big contract and gets to stay in the orange and blue for a long time coming.

Kareem Jackson had a stellar game as well at strong safety. He had an interception of his own and chipped in a pass defense and fumble recovery.

Dre’Mont Jones finished strong with another sack and a half. I like what he’s shown in the opportunities he’s gotten to get more playing time this season. He’s showing the kind of savvy you want to see from an interior defensive lineman.

Malik Reed had some really nice pass rush moments in this game with a sack and a couple of QB hits. He’s the perfect #3 edge rusher for a team. If he can emulate Shaquil Barret and continue to develop his game, he’s going to turn into a real force at edge in the next two years.

Defensive Cons

Outside of Michael Ojemudia, there’s not a ton to be excited about from what we saw at cornerback. With all the injuries there, that’s not surprising, but it does tell us with the trouble with A.J. Bouye, the Broncos are going to need help at corner next season.

When our coverage was solid, the pass rush eventually got there, but this defense really is missing Bradley Chubb and Von Miller. There was a good pass rush at times, but it wasn’t really impacting the game as much as you want to see with a strong defense.

Offense

We scored over 30 points. That’s a big plus in my books for an offense that has looked absolutely pathetic for most of the season. The downside is, this false gold along with the Panthers game is going to likely fool some into thinking there’s more potential here than we are seeing.

If we point out our defense having a pretty poor situation at cornerback, we have to do the same for the opponent as that’s the only way to stay fair and the Raiders corner situation was to my eyes worse than ours (at least our guys weren’t constantly shifting completely off the guy they have to stay with as there is no other safety valve).

That being said, Pat Shurmur made a good showing with his offensive unit to finish off the season and even stayed with the run throughout the game when it wasn’t really working well at all.

Quarterbacks

NFL: Las Vegas Raiders at Denver Broncos Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Drew Lock finished the game with quite an awesome stat line. He made a lot of nice throws in the game and for the second time this season didn’t throw even one boneheaded throw that should have led to a turnover.

But to quote the great Andrew Wood, “But does it really matter?”

If you love Lock, this game was a stamp of approval.

If you hate him, you have to admit this was a pretty darn good showing.

If you are like me and collectively form your opinions over time based on what you see from guys playing the game, we’re solidly with Wood on this one.

He threw some really nice passes in this one and made good decisions. It was his second-best game in the NFL easily. He did enough to win for sure. I hope we see more of this in the future from him and that his career trajectory sails ever upward from this season on.

Offensive Pros

Las Vegas Raiders v Denver Broncos Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

Jerry Jeudy had his best game as a pro and showcased what a great route runner he is. There were more times that he had his guy completely shook than most fans likely noticed. Our quarterback performance was above average and it definitely helped show how good Jeudy is and how bright his future is in the league.

Noah Fant also has such a bright future. He’s the mix of speed, size, and shiftiness that makes him a matchup nightmare to cover.

Special Teams

NFL: Las Vegas Raiders at Denver Broncos Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Brandon McManus is likely going to remember this game for a long time. He had a chance to destroy the NFL record and it was blocked. It was the most exciting moment of the game by far for me. I hope he gets another shot again soon as he’s got the leg for it.

Final Thoughts

I’ve heard a lot of talk about incompetence by Vic Fangio at the end of the game. This may not be a popular opinion, but in my mind what I saw was a coach making sure the opponent had an opportunity to close out the game. There were not 1, but 2 questionable time outs taken by the Broncos. Vic has even said that he doesn’t think these end of season games amount to anything meaningful as far as the next season goes. I believe him when he says that and there is nothing I’ve seen in all his time with the Broncos that leads me to believe he was taking those time outs foolishly or without clear thought on what the situation was. He’s been a coach for decades for goodness sake.

I’m not here to be moral police for the rightness or wrongness of it. As a fan of the team, I can honestly say I’m happy they got a better draft position because that helps the team. I can also say that I would have been ecstatic to see them beat the Raiders to close the season because the Raiders every year no matter what can pound sand for eternity. Losing to the hapless Raiders says as much about the quality of the 2020 Denver Broncos as anything and it isn’t good.

Thankfully we get to move on to a bigger, brighter future for the Denver Broncos in 2021.