OK, ultimate fans. If last week wasn’t a reminder that it doesn’t pay to not believe, then I don’t know what would be. I was doubtful. HIGHLY doubtful. Rossiya was equally skeptical, though maintained a positive outlook in general, made us laugh and it paid off bigtime. The football gods had a good laugh at our “woe is me” attitude and pretty much kicked our asses back into the stands with orange and blue Kool Aid™ flowing aplenty.
Personally, I love being here. Even if it’s temporary. But I choose optimism and belief over pessimism and misery.
This week, ToddusCraig is keeping us entertained with some serious witty wordplay plus great insight on this team we all love.
Here’s to another week we get to watch our favorite team and another fabulous UFG!
Week 10: Eagles at Broncos
MHR - Wow. Broncos took care of business against the Cowboys. Tell the truth - did you believe they had that in them? What were you thinking throughout that game?
ToddusCraig: You know, after the weird Washington win, I was like Fox Mulder: I needed a big sign behind me that reads: I WANT TO BELIEVE.
But big, bad Dallas? Oh hell no. We were driving back from a weekend in Estes, and I didn’t even care if I missed the first half of the game on TV. I was listening to Dave Logan and company while the family played on phones on the ride home. It was a surreal game in a surreal week — as well as a likely loss. I hated feeling that pessimistic, but I mean, the trade for Von Miller hurt deeply and everything-looked-lost would have been THE STORY of the NFL season as far as the Broncos go.
But no. The NFL world was like, hold my beer… First the disastrously awful Henry Ruggs story nabbed the headlines, then Aaron Rodgers went from hosting jeopardy to being in jeopardy for hosting covid. Then up became down, one plus one equaled 11, and a wild weekend of upset specials, including the Denver-Dallas game, changed everything. I mean, the weekend was so wild that maybe Homer Simpson is the preferred solution to the Bowlen babies.
MHR - We just learned that Pat Shurmur is out after testing positive for COVID-19. All jokes aside about the offense doing better now (wishing you a speedy recovery Coach!), is there a chance the offense does do better without Shurmur as play-caller this week - or did we start to see the “real OC” last week against Dallas when he finally had all the offensive weapons such as Jerry Jeudy and a good run game?
ToddusCraig: I have no clue, honestly. I thought our offense the first three weeks showed a real evolution from the previous year, but then the next three weeks - to throw a little Shumur shade - were less evolved than an unfrozen caveman lawyer. Was it the swath of injuries? Poor play calling? Lack of effort? All of the above?
Here’s what I do know: Jeudy just continues to improve. He’s getting ready to take this league by storm. With Jeudy, Sutton, and Patrick, we have a holy trinity of tough receivers. Amen.
Now if we could just convince Noah Fant to play tight end like a first rounder, we’d be unstoppable.
MHR - Let’s talk about Jerry Jeudy. Several analysts have noted that having him in the game not only adds another weapon, it adds the ability to move the offense around and put Jeudy in motion to send him all over. Do you think some of Shurmur’s genius has just needed the full offense to utilize his play calls or does he still hold the offense back with his stubbornness?
ToddusCraig: I’m a little hesitant to use the phrase “Shurmur’s genius.” That said, it is much harder to win a poker game without a decent-sized pair. I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt based on that Dallas game, however. What I saw in that Dallas game was an offense that started to show some explosive potential — most everyone had some highlight reel plays after four weeks of three-and-outs. Did Jeudy’s return make that much of a difference? I don’t know, but it sure didn’t hurt.
MHR - Broncos’ running game last week was FIRE. Javonte Williams cannot get tackled and Melvin Gordon often finds his way to the end zone. How do you hope the Broncos use those two again this week?
ToddusCraig: Well, Javonte Williams reminds me lots of Mike Anderson — power, quickness, and tough to tackle. More please.
I’m not a huge Gordon fan. I didn’t like his signing; I didn’t ever worry too much about him when he was a Charger. The Gordon signing felt like another reach at the time — like the running back version of Joe Flacco. That said, my eyes see a player who is just MORE this year. More strength, more speed, more touchdowns. I’ll applaud that and keep my mind open. More please, indeed.
The rotating running back idea seemed counter-productive at first, but I think I’m too old school in liking a bell-cow feature back. When today’s defenders are so punishing that even massive Derrick Henry can’t make it half a season, it may be time to acknowledge the rotating backs is both the present and future of the sport.
MHR - The offensive line - operating with three backups by the end of the game - performed admirably last week against a strong Cowboys’ line. They have another tough test this week against a strong-on-paper Eagles’ defensive front. What are the keys to keeping Teddy Bridgewater’s jersey pretty clean this Sunday?
ToddusCraig: Man, as much hate as has been levied toward Fangio and Shurmur, I’ve been grouchy about Munchak. Our offensive line has played more like a conga line for years now; I guess I Juwanted something much better for the money we spent on that part of the roster.
Remember the old days of Elway’s Super Bowl victory teams? Zimmerman, Nalen, and Schlereth oozed attitude and athleticism and toughness in equal parts. The past few seasons, our offensive lines just oozed.
But I’m seeing a little change. Risner and Bolles started to shine last year; “the Gut” is blossoming this year. Can Cushenberry and company continue to evolve some nastiness? I think they can with these running backs. Bridgewater can help by not holding the ball too long, and Shurmur (or whomever calls the plays on Sunday) can keep the pocket moving, too, with designed roll outs and extra blockers as needed.
MHR - Teddy has emerged the best Broncos’ QB since Peyton Manning. While that’s possibly a little surprising, it wasn’t a high bar. What have you thought of Teddy so far this season; what did you think of him last week against Dallas; what do you hope to see from him against the Eagles and then beyond?
ToddusCraig: Well, I’m damned proud to have him on the team. I see a man who can lead, make all the throws, win games he’s supposed to win, and keep his team in tougher games, too. As the weeks and timing continue to improve, I see a player with a very high floor and the ability to raise the roof for a surprisingly high ceiling with our skill players at his disposal. Plus, he’s a first class guy, a quality human being, and a great addition to the community. I’ll admit: I was so hoping for Aaron Rodgers to put on the orange and blue this year. Now? Rodgers looks most appropriately dressed in a Rise of Skywalker hoodie, and I can’t wait to see Teddy in the color rush unis. I hope Teddy’s our QB for a good, long and successful while.
Jonathon Cooper's first NFL sack was pic.twitter.com/RW5uwlwfKX— Joe Rowles (@JoRo_NFL) November 11, 2021
MHR - Against the Cowboys, the defense finally seemed in sync and the numbers proved it with two sacks, two interceptions and tons of pressure on Dak. Do you expect the defense to do it again? What challenges does Jalen Hurts present? The rest of the Eagles’ offense?
ToddusCraig: Well, like most mobile quarterbacks, Hurts brings the pain with his legs as much as his arm. I watched most of the Chargers-Eagles game, and I saw a young quarterback whose athleticism is top-tier. Like most QBs, he’s still learning to master reading defenses, and a few of his throws can be off-target.
For the defense, that means get after him while maintaining your lane discipline. He’s gonna get some yards scrambling, but the more you limit him there, the better. We ain’t gotta blitz as much as Miami did to the Ravens and Lamar, but we still gotta put the hurt on Hurts.
We absolutely must contain Philly’s explosive tight end, Dallas Goedert, too. Don’t forget about him. He’s from that collegiate powerhouse breeding-ground of NFL greatness: South Dakota State University, home of the Jackrabbits and the alma mater to the NFL’s all-time leading scorer and a certain Ultimate Fan who felt it necessary to plug the brawling bunnies of Brookings (where I earned my English degree).
MHR - A bunch of rookies on the defense are really shining - Caden Sterns, Jonathon Cooper, Baron Browning and of course, Patrick Surtain II. Although the D has its share of veterans, it feels like a relatively young defense is building something here. Are you excited about the future of this defense? If Vic Fangio was not retained as head coach next year, do you think this defense will be as good?
ToddusCraig: What is it they say, that the kids are alright? I mean, when Von was traded, it felt like the heart and soul of the defense disappeared overnight. Darkness fell across the land, despondency enveloped the future, and I was ready to start tearing it all down and selling it for scrap.
And what happened? The exact opposite. Surtain looks certain. Some Young linebacker from the Rams came in like Miley on a damned wrecking ball and brought some attitude with him. The Ohio State boys started playing like it was Michigan week every week, and George Paton looked more like General Patton for his efforts of making something from nothing (or, at least, just a 7th round draft pick).
MHR - Jonathan Cooper has shown some great instincts to rush the passer. While he’s no Von Miller, how confident are you in the pass rush even now when Von is gone and Bradley Chubb is out?
ToddusCraig: Confidence happens when opportunity, ability, and enthusiasm align. The Miller-Chubb show had ability and enthusiasm, but no opportunity. It’s gone now.
In its wake are fresh legs, open eyes, and the full hearts of youth (even if one is surgically repaired). Mark my words: the law firm of Cooper and Browning should be strong-arming their way through the NFL for years to come.
MHR - The Eagles have found most of their offensive success on the ground. Do you think the Broncos’ defense that shows up will be the one that stopped Zeke Elliott or the one that allowed a third-string running back to get nearly 130 yards on them?
ToddusCraig: I saw a defense in the last two weeks that wasn’t waiting for Von to make a play. They started to attack with fire and enthusiasm and discipline. There weren’t too many maddening lapses that plagued us in Cleveland, Baltimore, and Pittsburgh. Hurts is gonna get some yards with his legs, but honestly, if we can limit the damage there, I like our odds. I’m feeling a bit of an offensive shootout for this game, with Denver’s defense being the difference at the end.
MHR - How important do you think it is for the Broncos to win this game and go into the Bye Week 6-4. And what could a win do to propel it further on the back half of its schedule?
ToddusCraig: Sweeping the NFC East isn’t quite the feat it once was, but that’s gotta be a tempting goal. At 6-4, this team would be in better shape than a lot of us would have thought after that Cleveland loss, and with the AFC West tighter than Aaron Rodgers’ man-bun, the Raiders seeing more headlines than goal lines, and Patrick Mahomes looking like he can’t find his way home, anything can happen, right? Why not Denver?
MHR - What drives you crazy with this team? What gives you hope?
ToddusCraig: After the Cleveland game, I just ached. We were out-coached, out-played, and out-to-lunch. I resented giving up my weekends for such misery. The Broncos football that I had known my whole life seemed as empty and as meaningless as a Vance Joseph press conference. My family would console me; they’d tell me I was a true fan. My son started playing as the Cardinals in Madden. It was getting bleak.
But hope, especially against the Eagles, is a thing with feathers, isn’t it? It seemed like we exorcised some demons against Dallas and turned a sort of psycho-neurotic corner. We flew around the field on offense and defense. We didn’t shoot ourselves in the foot. We looked smart, focused, and disciplined. The team had fun; that gives me hope.
MHR - Who would be your MVP for offense, defense and I guess ST too?
ToddusCraig: Teddy Bridgewater on offense is the easy answer. Our defense, I guess, revolves around Justin Simmons, and ST’s only candidate is McManus.
1-0 every week.— Denver Broncos (@Broncos) November 13, 2021
That's the mindset.
Stats for Teddy Bridgewater? 325 yards, 3 TDs
Stats for each Broncos RBs? Williams, 12 carries for 85 yards. MG3, 10 carries for 55 yards and a receiving TD
Number of yards receiving/TDs for each receiver? Sutton, 89 yards; Jeudy, 75 yards; Patrick, 110 yards and a TD
Longest FG for McManus on Sunday? 45
Number of sacks to Bridgewater? 3
Number of sacks to Jalen Hurts? 5
Broncos player with the most tackles? Browning
Who gets the first sack in the game for the Broncos? The most? Dre’Mont Jones for the first sack. Cooper pockets a couple more to lead the team.
How many sacks will Von Miller get with the Rams this week? zero
How many INTs/FF/FR for the Broncos D? 1/1/1
How many penalties will the refs get wrong? Corrente working this game?
How many bad challenges will Vic Fangio ask for? The old man gets it right this week. None.
Final Score? Broncos 35-Eagles 24
Favorite Broncos game? The game where Manning throws for 7 TDs against the Ravens was a helluva lot of fun.
Favorite win this season? The Jets game this year reminded me of the playoff game between Shanny’s 98 team and Parcells’s Jets. Helicopters in the flyover and everything! That game was especially satisfying.
Favorite Broncos game EVER? “This one’s for John!”
Team you hate to lose to the most in the AFC West? Raiders
Team you love to beat the most in the AFC West? Raiders
Team you hate to lose to the most in the entire AFC (outside of the West)? Ravens
Team you love to beat the most in the AFC? Ravens
NFC team you cannot stand? Dallas
NFC team you could root for in the Super Bowl (if not playing the Broncos, of course)? Von and the Rams, maybe? Anyone but Brady?
Favorite game now looking forward to this season? Raiders, round two.
Favorite Broncos player on the current roster? Bridgewater
Favorite Broncos player of all time? Elway
Least favorite game analyst/commentator? Still Phil Simms. I’d rather listen to Cris Collinsworth read stereo instructions for four hours than listen to Phil Simms call one more Broncos game. Glad Simms is in the studio, where I can change the channel when he starts talking.
Favorite sports cliche? In honor of this year: going 1-0 every week.
Favorite sports movie? In the past, I’ve answered this with my clear favorite: Bull Durham. A distant second for me are Hoosiers and Field of Dreams. Lesser sports, but equally great movies that always make me cry like a baby. (I’ll also argue that Hoosiers is the best TEACHING movie ever made, but I’ll save that rant for an education blog.)
How did you choose your MHR handle? My mother-in-law had a golden retriever named Jake. Like most dogs, Jake had about three dozen nicknames, one of which was Jakeus-wakeus, which got shortened to Jakeus. The mono-syllabic structure of the dog’s name leant itself nicely to adapting his nickname to my name. So long story short, my mother-in-law nicknamed me after her dog, which gives me an internet handle that no one else has, and I kinda like that.
Superstitions on game day? I’ve gotta give up on the idea of a lucky jersey. I bought a Hamler No. 1 this year, so I could take the photo below with my freshman son, Joshua, who wanted Surtain and his No. 2. Hamler is, of course, on IR the rest of the year. My last jersey - purchased before that was a supposed-to-be Christmas gift - was a jersey of Chubb, who blew out his knee before I could even open the gift. Sorry for the jinx, KJ!
How did you become a Broncos fan?
Sports were always on the TV growing up. I wasn’t much of an athletic kid, but I always read my father’s Sports Illustrated issues for Frank DeFord, Dr. Z, Peter King, and Rick Reilly. I learned to look for and appreciate the stories in the games. Elway always played with such guts, such courage, that as a teenager, he seemed almost god-like in what he could summon from his own abilities. As he lost those first three Super Bowls, it was as if we all shared his heartache. The hero had everything but his moment.
It was a joyous and tragic and awe-inspiring time to be a Broncos fan growing up in the 80s, and it felt like we were on some cursed ship moored on an ancient burial ground near a voodoo church. We had the star quarterback and some good players, but we never had a championship-caliber team…
Which is kind of ironic because since Super Bowl 50, it’s felt like we’ve had some championship-caliber teams if only we had the star QB, you know? But in Elway we trust here in Colorado, and we know that somehow, some way - we will helicopter our way back to being Super Bowl champions again. Is Teddy our bridge over troubled QB waters in 2021? Like Agent Scully, I’m beginning to believe.
Are you ready to believe in this team?
This poll is closed
Can Quinn Meinerz pancake a defender?
Can Kyle Fuller defend? Sometimes yes, sometimes no.
Is Tom McMahon a good ST coach? No.