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Ultimate Fan: Broncos have a very winnable football game on Thursday

But they must effectively rush the passer and take away Cleveland’s passing game to have their best shot at a victory.

Cleveland Browns v Denver Broncos Photo by Rob Leiter/Getty Images

It’s only been three days since the latest debacle at Mile High, and I’m slowly getting over my anger. But what keeps me optimistic - especially after a loss to the Raiders - is the Ultimate Fan Guide where the record is always undefeated.

And drtacp - once a casual Chiefs fan who chose the Broncos as his team after a 4-12 season - is bringing the goods this week with more outstanding knowledge and opinions.

Despite the Broncos’ troubles of late, he recognizes the Browns could be in more dire straights so the prime time victory should be ours. Also he used a word I hadn’t heard before, so kudos for teaching me something new (extra credit to the commenter who guesses the word!)

Go Broncos!

Week 7: Broncos at Browns on Thursday Night Football

MHR - I don’t know if I can ask about last week’s game without getting seething mad, but I’ll try…What were your thoughts about that #&$*#!@ loss to the #&$*#!@ Raiders and that #&$*#!@ offensive game plan? (it was a valiant effort anyway). But seriously…what were you thinking before, during and after that game about the Broncos?
drtacp: The game itself was such a gut check. I had audible “oofs!” during the game. I watch at work as I have a Sunday work schedule. That way if the game is not locally televised I can go to Buffalo Wild Wings two blocks from my place of work. Otherwise I bring a television to work and take a three-hour lunch break in order to watch the game. I admit that I was tempted to go back to work many times during the first three quarters on Sunday due to such a lackluster performance by our beloved Denver Broncos.

Scoring on the first drive was a welcome change, but sadly, not an omen. I have to say that the talent on our team is every bit as good as the Raiders with few exceptions such as punter. I have no problem with Sam Martin, but a 70-yard net punt by AJ Cole makes me jealous. Remember when we took a high-priced Raider special teams castoff from Jon Gruden and he placed the blame on his suctitude in Denver squarely on the shoulders of his new ‘special’ teams coach? That criticism rings true to me now more than ever.

I am beset all around by fellow fans calling for all coaches heads. I am moving there slowly. I am always an optimist and even when it is hard to be one, I can muster. McMahon should have been gone already. That is defacto to all us fans. Shurmer was praised by me in a long ago fanpost where I was trying to express my loyalty to the coaching staff. No more. Shurmer is quite the persona non grata to a majority of Broncos fans who post on MHR. His abandoning of the run attack and his misuse of TEs just tells me he cannot be a serious OC. I have conspiracy theories about how the NE Patriots sent out their personnel to sabotage their new teams. Pioli to KC and McDaniels to Denver are cases in point. Shurmer is rising to that level of suspicion with his game calling.

I think Vic is the real deal and may be over his head as Head, but he has made lemonade out of lemons with the D. Everyone (including me) thinks he is misusing Von in coverage, but the stats for defense that I saw prior to the LVR game had us in top 5 for five categories on defense.

After the game, Broncos fell to .500 and we all realize that the AFC West crown I/we all desired is getting out of reach. Losing the starting MLBs to the same injury is uncanny. I was frantically trying to see who was the green dot after Dino45 went down. I hope it was Simmons. His presser is next….

MHR - Justin Simmons said in the post-game presser he was happy for the short week so they could move past the game quickly and also promised that he would “figure out a way to fix this.” Do you think he can? Is this fixable by players just playing better individually? What is most needed for this team to turn things around immediately?
drtacp: Yes. Resounding Yes. But this week is Monday OFF, Tuesday WALKTHROUGH, Wednesday WALKTHROUGH, Thursday GAMEDAY. How much can be fixed? Players being accurately graded and then getting to see the low points on video and then the walkthroughs dwelling on exactly how to fix the low points is the only way this week.

Coaches are key to this in my opinion. The astute players Broncos have drafted and acquired will go far in righting this ship. The Browns are very banged up right now, perhaps more decimated than we. Overcoming adversity is the hallmark to playing this game. Football is the ultimate team game where the sum of the individuals overcoming the impedance is near to a religious experience to witness.

Football is truly a human eusocial endeavor. Confer with professor emeritus E.O Wilson. He has an awesome football perspective as a lifelong Alabama fan. His perspective has informed my Christian life.

MHR - The Raiders supposedly had an awful O-line, but it looked like a Hall-of-Fame line compared to the Broncos’ on Sunday. What do you make of Denver’s offensive line this season that just allowed five sacks to Bridgewater on Sunday? Is Garett Bolles regressing? Why is Dalton Risner struggling? Is Mike Munchak really the OL whisperer? WHAT IS GOING ON????
drtacp: O-line is the bane of our existence since before PFM. PFM was able to hide such o-line incompetence as no other QB ever has. Carr had such a fast delivery and Denver had little penetration anyway which made LVR o-line appear to be world beaters. Malik Reed is playing nearly as well as Chubb would be, but still the best pass rushers for us looked to be on the d-line and elsewhere other than outside linebacker.

You also have to figure that the o-line needs time to acquire cohesion as a unit.

Some have criticized the o-line for being schemed into horizontal (pulling) duties at the expense of vertical push. Advocates of the pulling ability of our players are calling it a thing of beauty. I agree with both, but the advent of their arrival to becoming more than adequate is mitigated by rotation in the ranks. Mienerz in place of Glasgow, Cushenberry’s learning curve and Risner’s fall from his rookie form are the weak links in my opinion. Joe M. could delineate and back up with stats, I guarantee. Sure and sadly Bolles is regressing toward the mean (he is 30 years old), but Massie is better than any other RT since Veldheer (not saying much). Munchak is not the problem in my opinion.

A side note: Remember when the Denver o-line was Cleveland retreads?

MHR - The Broncos drove 84 yards in their first drive Sunday to get a touchdown - the first opening drive TD for the Broncos since December 2019. While this is obviously a good thing to highlight, why has it been so hard for our offense to get the proverbial “fast start” all the players talk about needing to do? If you were going to give a lecture at Dove Valley, “Fast Start 101,” what would you tell them?
drtacp: Think of it as a deadline. The deadline is NOT 60 minutes of playing time away. So if you want to start fast, make the deadline much shorter. Drill that the score occurs in say 7.5 minutes max every drive (probably much shorter would work better). The game is on the line early in the game as much as it is late in the game. Develop that sense of urgency that is only being shown in the fourth quarter throughout the entirety of the game. Wunderkinds such as TT could will the team to a comeback win late in the fourth quarter (about the only NFL thing he could do). Not a good strategy. Teddy Bridgewater is not known for his comeback wins either.

MHR - Sacks aren’t only on the offensive line, and Bridgewater’s propensity to take a sack for a big loss on a key third down has become annoying. How can Shurmur help Teddy avoid his tendency to hold the ball for forever and instead get it out quickly to an open receiver?
drtacp: OC needs to scheme an outlet receiver and change up so the defense cannot whiff the personnel involved. I hate the desperation pitches to running backs that get stuffed for a loss. And the running back has to hate the immediate blast and the hit to his stats as well. Teddy taking a hit/sack is him not proverbially and nearly literally throwing a teammate under the bus. With our ability to run the ball we should be dialing up a lot of predictable first and second down run plays or at least options to do so. Then the occasional third down is not a defense making our offense one-dimensional by having to pass to achieve first down.

MHR - Between Javonte Williams and Melvin Gordon III, the Broncos’ run game got just over 100 yards, yet both running backs had enviable per carry numbers - Williams, 4.8 yards/carry; Gordon 5.0 yards/carry. But Shurmur seems to not know the best time to use the rushing attack (ie, run on 1st-and-10 nearly every drive versus pass on 4th-and-short). Am I missing some grand master plan to be unveiled in the second half of the season that will prevent me from having an aneurysm every time I watch them play???
drtacp: Invested in the Broncos much, Laurie? I feel your pain and thank goodness for the meds that keep my hypertension under control. Refer to my previous sabotage comment. There is no ‘masterplan’ in the wings. We are either witnessing the masterplan of sabotage or there is none such masterplan from Shurmer.

MHR - Speaking of the rushing attack, our defense has been inconsistent in efforts to stop an opponent’s running game. If Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt are playing on Thursday, can the Broncos stop them?
drtacp: They are not playing, but I would be very scared if they were though because AJ45 was a formidable force versus the run game and he’s out. Fortunately he will not be missed as much this week as he will be missed in the future.

I was at BWW last year surrounded by screaming KC fans asking me about the dreadlocks ILB playing for Denver. Proud moments despite our public loss. I considered Alexander Johnson to be the best Bronco on the field back in 2020. Sutton and Von were out. The fact that Simmons was helped big time by AJ being in the play makes my point. Bolles was elevated by refs cutting slack on holding penalties….

I just recently spoke to a coworker who is an ardent Browns fan. He had little hope for his team without these two very key players. The beatdown that they endured against the Cardinals put him in a funk similar to what I am seeing at MHR, but the Browns have recent success to offset the ‘sky is falling’ mentality from Broncos fans. “Big Mike Purcell and the *Replacements,” appearing this Thursday night, are gonna hafta step the hell up to stop any semblance that the Browns present for the run.

*Replacements: Kiser for sure. I think Browning is concussion protocol, so two practice squad players need to be placed on the 53. Underwhelming.

MHR - The Broncos’ defense hasn’t had a lot of success with mobile quarterbacks. If Baker Mayfield is suiting up for the Browns, can our pass rushers get to him? Can they even contain him? What is the best way to rattle Mayfield? If it’s Case Keenum, is there any excuse for not intercepting him multiple times?
drtacp: I have confidence that we pull out the win. That starts with rattling the QB. Last year Fangio dialed up blitzes to cover for his defensive weaknesses. I think we are going that route again with third string ILBs. If Fuller starts then all the more need to hide our deficiencies. The one-dimensional offense that Cleveland can afford also portends that our best defense is going to be an attack D and not a passive D. This game may actually pave a way to our future of transitioning into a more of an attack mode D that forces the opponent into our game plan. Von in coverage has been a head scratcher for all of us. This game should be Von’s coming out party. I will save the sack prediction for later: Chicken dinner for everyone!

MHR - The Broncos’ secondary was supposed to be one of the defense’s strongest units this season yet quarterbacks have been having their way with our defensive backs as they throw all over the field. Do they stand a chance against the likes of OBJ and Donovon Peoples-Jones, who combined for nearly 200 yards receiving against the Cardinals defense last week?
drtacp: Refer to previous question. Laurie, are you reading my mind?

The pass rush will mitigate the ineffectiveness (so far) of the stellar secondary Denver has acquired. Surtain is growing and will soon arrive. KJack and Callahan and Darby are pulling their weight. Sterns looks good every time he is in on the play. When does Ojemudia return? Simmons I think was previously somewhat riding the laurels of AJ45. This year without Jewell, Simmons was not assisted by Dino nearly as much. He had the green dot and a replacement pairing at ILB to attend to. After all it is a TEAM.

OBJ is more hype than effect, imo. He is most certainly a player on the decline. If the outlet for the quarterback is not only one-dimensional but also just one viable receiver, we go to a 4-3 record.

MHR - Last season injuries decimated our secondary. This season it’s the linebackers as now both starters are out for the season with torn pectoral muscles. And Bradley Chubb is on the short-term IR list once again. Is someone sticking pins in a Broncos VooDoo doll? What are your thoughts on our injuries and what should be done to prevent them (if anything)?
drtacp: Cleveland has been hit across the board worse than Denver. Our hits seem to cluster on position groups: WR, ILB, OG this year. Secondary last year. The Greek was our longest tenured employee ever. He stepped down before his retirement and the injury toll began to mount. I would say find another whiz trainer of that caliber and make it priority No. 1, even above scouting football talent, because you are only gonna have backup level players when your bonafide starters go down. There has to be something to the correlation of losing The Greek and the rise of injuries, don’t you think?

MHR - What drives you crazy with this team? What gives you hope?
drtacp: Coaching miscues. How can a team with this much talent be this inept?

George Paton gives me hope. I think he will see obvious signs if there is indeed a coaching sabotage as I imagine. He will no-nonsense override Fangio to rid us of McMahon (incompetent) and Shurmer (saboteur). I can dream anyway.

MHR - Name a player on offense and defense that has really stood out to you so far this season and why.
drtacp: Malik Reed has made the loss of Chubb much more bearable. The aforementioned Sterns gets honorable mention.

Fantasy football participants use my team knowledge and insights for their picks. Tim Patrick is always the top question and always my top answer. Sutton is “back,” but I get that the healing is a full year of play to complete the return to form. On the other hand, I was totally disgusted by Sutton’s quitting on the team when Drew Lock had to play for the concussed Teddy Bridgewater.

Kendall Hinton’s performance is notable as well. (He keeps Dionte Spencer off the offense too.)

MHR - What are your thoughts on this coaching staff and whether it should stay/go? If you want a firesale, do you do it now - or wait to the end of the season? If not everyone should go, who do you keep?
drtacp: I think I have covered this in a previous question, but in a nutshell...Fangio and Munchak and Donatell should be safe in my opinion. McMahon should be unemployable in the NFL. Shurmer is either incompetent or a plant to destroy and should be terminated before he is allowed to perpetrate another Denver loss. Here is hoping that Fangio and/or Paton do their due diligence.

MHR - How much of the poor showing the past six seasons rests on the lack of a clear owner of this team? What would Pat Bowlen do/have done already?
drtacp: I have no beef with The Trust. Joe Ellis has been painted as shooting down Elway’s desire to hire Kyle Shanahan. The Vance Joseph hiring was worse imo than the gamble on drafting the so-called QB Paxton Lynch. That hiring would not have happened with the Shanahan-as-HC scenario. JE stepped down and now soon stepping out leaves a big vacuum of its own. The Ellis resignation portends that a big change is imminent. I like change only if it is for the better.

MHR - Brass tacks - how do the Broncos win on Thursday (beside scoring more points ;) ).
drtacp: The Browns team is hobbled into being a one-dimensional passing team on offense with Case Keenum taking the snaps. Fangio should really focus on rushing the QB! Blitze at will! The heat will force 3-and-outs, turnovers and very few points for them.

Their secondary is poor (I wanted to add the urinary adjective). We should be able to afford a balanced offensive attack that keeps their defense guessing and not able to predict our moves. This is a very winnable game.

Predictions

Stats for Teddy Bridgewater? 20/35, 1 INT, 3 TDs

Stats for each Broncos RB? Gordon gets 50 yards on 15 carries. JW breaks out 80 yards on 15 carries, 1TD

Number of yards receiving/TDs for each receiver? Kendall 35, 1TD; Sutton 60; Patrick 75, 1TD; Fant 100+ 1TD

Longest FG for McManus on Sunday? 49

Number of sacks to Bridgewater? clean

Number of sacks to Baker Mayfield/Case Keenum? Not enough, say 5

Broncos player with the most tackles? Kiser

Who gets the first sack in the game for the Broncos? Von The most? Sterns

How many INTs/FF/FR for the Broncos D? 2/1/1

How many penalties will the refs get wrong? I’ll do a count and get back to you

How many bad challenges will Vic Fangio ask for? That has got to stop

Final Score? 28-16 Broncos

The Favorites

Favorite Broncos game with Peyton Manning? 2012 vs San Diego was his post neck injury coming out party. I used R.E.M’s Orange Crush as my sig back then - I’ve got my spine, I’ve got my orange crush. That still feels inspired.

Favorite postseason win, not a Super Bowl? AFC ‘ship vs NE Patriots*

Favorite Broncos game EVER? SB 50

Team you hate to lose to the most in the AFC West? LVR

Team you love to beat the most in the AFC West? KC

Team you hate to lose to the most in the entire AFC (outside of the West)? BAL

Team you love to beat the most in the AFC? NE (historically)

NFC team you cannot stand? TB now

NFC team you could root for in the Super Bowl (if not playing the Broncos, of course)? PHI

Favorite game now looking forward to this season? KC

Favorite Broncos player on the current roster? AJ45

Favorite Broncos player of all time? John Elway

Superstitions on game day? None. I always wear matching color team apparel.

Least favorite game analyst/commentator? Cris Collinsworth

Favorite sports cliche? Lately? This team has overcome a lot of adversity, er, I mean bad coaching.

Favorite sports movie? Backstory: My brother, Kenny Rogers, worked for the Coleman company who sponsored a bus trip to Arrowhead Stadium to see the Dallas Cowboys win in overtime. On the bus trip home the video was “Invincible.”

The Drive or The Fumble? The Drive.

How did you become a Broncos fan?

Growing up, dad liked Tom Landry and the Cowboys. As I grew up, I lost interest in football. Then I had a coworker and eventually roommate who was a Broncos fan. We went together to the Dog Track/casino to a watch party for another DEN Superbowl beatdown in the early 90s. John Elway was magnificent. Some really good Broncos in those days.

However when we went separate ways, my football interest waned and by the time Denver won the first two Super Bowls I was more affiliated with KC but seldom even watched football. The internet really sparked my interest as I learned so much more about the game and my ‘new fav’ team the Chiefs.

Fast forward to my “official resignation’’ in 2011 as being a Chiefs fan (posted on the official KC site but taken down within hours) and affirming my fandom was with the Denver Broncos forevermore.

The Broncos had just come off of McDouche and a 4-12 record, which was relevant to me not being a bandwagon fan, but rather recognizing the greatness this team had in its ownership, leadership and brand. I have not regretted that decision ever. I feel fortunate to have been exposed to the team I now love back when I did not really care and then to have had the choice to make them MY TEAM! A team that I care deeply about.

Hence this ultimate fan guide response to DOCLLV’s great questions.

Poll

Which area of the Broncos’ "game" needs to be firing on all cylinders Thursday to get the win?

This poll is closed

  • 26%
    Pass rush
    (48 votes)
  • 9%
    Coverage by the secondary
    (17 votes)
  • 2%
    Run defense
    (5 votes)
  • 24%
    Shurmur’s game plan
    (45 votes)
  • 0%
    Courtland Sutton’s hands
    (1 vote)
  • 18%
    "Shasta"
    (33 votes)
  • 18%
    The trenches
    (34 votes)
183 votes total Vote Now