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2021 Midseason: The No Bull Review

The Denver Broncos are 4-4 and in the hunt to find legitimacy as a professional level NFL team. Let’s talk about what we’ve learned from 8 games this season and what we have to look forward to for the next 8.

Washington Football Team v Denver Broncos Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images

We’re going to take a little side-trip this week for the No Bull Review and talk big picture instead of reviewing that snoozer of a game against the WFT (whatever the heck that is).

The Broncos have somehow miraculously found themselves at .500 halfway through the season. Did you know that that means there are statistically 14 teams that are worse than our team?

I had to go look at the NFL records to see for myself, because as an eye-test guy, you wouldn’t know it from watching this team play football.

We lost to the Cleveland Browns in a very winnable game. We beat whatever you want to call that team from Washington D.C. that played us this week though we tried our damnedest to lose it.

When is the last time that a team you cheered for won a game and it felt like they lost?

Maybe it is just me, but I don’t think so. I have the words of other Broncos fans I talk to that talk about how bad this team looks. I have the actions of the front office trading our franchise player to the Rams.

Optimism

I know sometimes I get pretty critical with the Broncos (it is kinda my schtick after all), but I always try to bring it back to what positives can I look at each week when it starts looking abysmal (like it has for about 6 straight seasons now).

So the good news is, we’re only a handful of wins from having a winning football season. I may not be able to point to the schedule and tell you where they are coming from, but if we can just win 5 more of our last 8 games, we’ll be a winning team.

I think that’s something that would bring Broncos Country some relief.

Heck, if we win 2 more, we’ll have improved on our record from last year technically speaking.

The other thing to be thankful for is all the development we’re seeing of many young players on the roster given that the team has had so many injuries. Players like Albert Okwuegbunam, Barron Browning, Malik Reed, Jonathan Cooper, Caden Sterns, and Justin Strnad are getting very important live snaps that will help the coaches form them into players ready to shoulder the responsibility of the field of play.

We also can be very glad that we have the best quarterback play on the offensive side of the ball that we’ve seen for the past five years or so. 13 TDS, 5 INTs, and over 100 quarterback rating over the span of 8 games is a huge step forward for this offense.

Pessimism

But let’s be real. I can hype up the quarterback all I want, he’s still just a mediocre NFL quarterback that is not a guy that is raising all boats and making players around him better.

And while it is nice to talk about young players developing, they are only in that position because this team is losing one or more starters to injury each week. The defense is once again being slapped together with duct tape and baling wire...the only difference is that this year the injuries are impacting the linebacking group the most instead of the secondary.

And of the next 8 games, do you really pick us to win against any team other than the Lions? Here’s the list for reference:

  • at Cowboys
  • Eagles
  • Chargers
  • at Chiefs
  • Lions
  • Bengals
  • at Raiders
  • at Chargers
  • Chiefs

Realism

I don’t see the wins coming up and with the team trading away Von Miller, neither does the front office. You don’t trade away your most elite player (even if he’s injured and even if he’s looking like a shadow of his former self in the past few games he did play in) if you are trying to win football games.

This looks to me like a situation where George Paton has reloaded the Broncos team this offseason with all the free agents Vic Fangio needed to field his defense and a new QB who was a legitimate talent able to run Pat Shurmur’s offense. They were given everything they asked for and needed so that they could win.

It is now go-time, Vic and Pat. Both of you look like guys that are out of their depth in their current roles on the team. Fangio needs to be a defensive coordinator...that’s what he is and what he does. Much like my coaching hero Wade Phillips, he just isn’t cut out to be a head coach.

Pat Shurmur honestly doesn’t even belong on a football team. The only reason he is has to do with nepotism, cronyism, and front offices liking names they have heard instead of taking chances on young up-and-coming offensive minds like Rich Scangarello. I still don’t question the quality of the players for the most part on our offense. I think our RBs are above average, our offensive line has talent, our receiving group is excellent, and our quarterback is at least average. That means that if you just have a decent offensive play-caller, you should be scoring an average of at least 21 points per game (NFL average so far this year is just shy of 23).

But that’s not what we have. We have a washed-up play-caller who doesn’t understand how to scheme players open and instead runs plays he’s run for two decades and expects his players to get themselves open (in case you don’t know, this is not how the current trend in NFL offense works). It is the same thing we saw with Gary Kubiak...it didn’t work then with Trevor Siemian and it doesn’t work now with Teddy Bridgewater.

Final Thoughts

I’ve skipped the past two games doing my normal reviews and will get back to the same thing I’ve done the past couple of years around this time: I’ll focus on the young players and the future and mainly look at what is the team doing to set themselves up for future success.

I’ll say right now that in all honesty, the team can and should be making a couple more trades before closing of business tomorrow. I fully agree with others here on MHR that you do any trade you can at this point to set up the team to blow it up next season. These coaches aren’t it. So look at the top end of your salaries that are not under contract next year or the year after and see what you can get. Teddy to New Orleans? Absolutely. Noah Fant and his penalties to anyone needing a TE? Sure. Kyle Fuller for a bag of Doritos? You betcha dontcha know.

But let’s stop acting like this organization is about winning in 2021. That’s a straight-up lie. If there were any accountability at the top (meaning ownership), someone would have already been fired. Pat Bowlen would never have let this team lose this much this long.