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Shula’s play calling where much of the blame belongs in Broncos’ loss to the Eagles

Tim Jenkins joined Broncos Country Tonight to break down Teddy’s performance - but also Mike Shula’s.

Philadelphia Eagles v Denver Broncos Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images

Since the Broncos’ embarrassing loss to the Eagles Sunday, all anyone seems to remember is the fumble play created by Melvin Gordon on 4th-and-1 — negating any chance for a score and another failure in the red zone — but completely dodged by Teddy Bridgewater who failed to tackle Darius Slay as he sprinted by.

When Tim Jenkins joined Broncos Country Tonight earlier this week, he noted that the lack of effort was so much more obvious on the All-22, and he joined in the criticism of No. 5, noting regardless of the still a really bad look - for fans who want to see players give it all they’ve got, as well as other players who want to see their teammate put it on the line to win.

“The reason this play has become so toxic is that this is one of those plays where it’s a really negative play and everyone is so aligned, so it’s creating a perfect storm where everyone can get behind saying ‘this was terrible,’” Jenkins said, adding that it’s hard to say Bridgewater was really concerned about his health “when he’s running scramble drill down two scores.”

But Jenkins believes that if Teddy were asked Monday if he wished he’d played that differently, he’d say “yeah, I wish I would’ve given more effort.”

In fact, Bridgewater said something like that after watching the film with the team and head coach Vic Fangio pointing out he “had to be better there.”

“I totally agree. That’s not the type of tape that I want to put out there. It’s one of those situations where you get pissed after you watch it because you know how much this game means to you,” Bridgewater said. “Guys are out there trying to make a play. You feel like you have a little help running towards the sideline and you try to force a cut back. In real time, it feels like everything is happening fast—let’s force a cutback. But when you slow it down, it’s like, ‘Man, just give more effort.’ You watch it and you walk away from it pissed at yourself. ... I just needed to lay it all out for the guys in that moment.”

But even Jenkins wasn’t ready to skewer Bridgewater overall. In fact, looking back at the game tape, he argued Bridgewater played “pretty good” but the game planning from Mike Shula was terrible.

“What was hard for me was, watching that game, I didn’t think [Teddy] actually played that bad,” Jenkins noted, adding that even with Pat Shurmur out, if Mike Shula was given the game plan they’d been repping all week, it wouldn’t be unreasonable to be able to call the game. “And that was how he was recycling calls situationally? That was maybe some of the worst play calling I’d ever seen. It’s just like, ‘dude, I don’t really know what Teddy is supposed to do.’”

Jenkins explained that he’s often criticized Bridgwater for not seeing all the options in a play that Shurmur has dialed up.

“But that just wasn’t a reality this week,” Jenkins said, adding that there just weren’t guys open for Teddy even as there have been in previous games when Bridgewater has checked down to a different play.

And where in other games, Jenkins felt like Shurmur would have repeat calls because he saw an open guy and wanted Bridgewater to find him, this week he felt like Shula was just repeating calls just to do it.

“No one was open the first time, and guess what? No one was open the second time,” Jenkins said.

One of his biggest questions from Shula’s performance was when the QB coach had to play the percentages on normal down and distance calls and had a 50-50 chance of calling the right play for the coverage.

“It’s more of a feel of the game from the coordinator. Half the time they’re in this and half the time they’re in that...we guessed wrong just about every time,” Jenkins said. “Shurmur, love him or hate him, put them in better situations.”

This problem compounded the usual problem that Bridgewater isn’t able to do a lot when the play breaks down - where elite quarterbacks might be able to save the play.

“The combination of only decent situations with Teddy has made for an anemic offense,” Jenkins said. But with Shula’s play calling that didn’t even allow for minimal gain, the Broncos’ offense had little chance for success. “Teddy will extend plays some but he’s more willing to check down, so that’s where the problem is compounded.”

To Jenkins point, Benjamin Allbright pointed out that after Albert Okwuegbunam’s big catch, and the Broncos were inside the five, Shula called three pass plays - not even ones that are Bridgewater’s most comfortable throws.

“Yeah, we leaned on the run at times we should have passed and then the one time we should lean on the run we don’t,” he said.

Ryan Edwards asked Jenkins what he thought this offense was after that performance compared to the one that played the Cowboys.

“In terms of who this offense is, I have no idea,” Jenkins said. “One game there’s a lot of quick game and curl routes and the next they throw 14 times to Courtland Sutton, so I don’t know.”

Guess what,’re not the only one.