Perhaps the biggest question in Broncos Country right now is, who will show up for the Denver Broncos this week. As they prepare to take on the Los Angeles Chargers, will it be the team that dismantled the Dallas Cowboys, or the team that collapsed against the Philadelphia Eagles?
When Ian St. Clair and I sat down to record the MHR Radio Podcast that was the one thing we couldn’t really figure out. The talent level on the Broncos roster seems to be good enough to compete every week. The execution, however, has been incredibly inconsistent.
The biggest issue has been the offensive play calling. Are the Broncos a pass happy offense, or will they rely on the running attack? There are weapons in both areas that should help the team thrive, but it never feels like the Broncos really know what they want to do on offense.
The bye week brought some huge wins with the signings of Courtland Sutton and Tim Patrick. The Denver WR room is stacked for the next few season. Sutton and Patrick, joined by Jerry Jeudy and KJ Hamler (when he returns) will be a problem for opposing defenses. Throw in Noah Fant (he has so much potential) and Albert Okwuegbunam, the Broncos passing attack should be excellent for awhile.
And still, it seems obvious to most of us that the best way for the Broncos to win is to run the football. Melvin Gordon and Javonte Williams have been the best weapons on offense all season. Williams has been the most impressive, and looks like he will be an unstoppable force for the next few seasons. The offensive play makers are set.
Now we get to the question marks. Obviously, QB is a problem. I don’t care which side of the Teddy Bridgewater/Drew Lock debate you fall on. Neither one of them is the answer. If 2022 is another year without a big move at QB, that will be disappointing. Hopefully, the recent contracts to Sutton and Patrick indicate the GM George Paton has plan to address this.
The other major issue is on the offensive line. Garett Bolles was struggling before his injury. Dalton Risner has not been as good this season. Lloyd Cushenberry is still a work in progress. Graham Glasgow might be on his way out. Quinn Meinerz and Netane Muti could be good enough to step in. Right tackle? When was the last time Denver had that position figured out? Orlando Franklin?
I have no idea what the plan is for Vic Fangio and his coaching staff moving forward. If he is back, I believe the defense will be fine, but the offense still needs to be addressed. Should Fangio find himself on the outs, whoever the Broncos bring in better be able to coach up the defense, and get the offense to play better.
Fangio’s audition begins now. The Chargers are a huge test for Denver. If the Broncos can steal a win against a divisional opponent in a game they should lose, that could help Fangio stick around for another season (maybe that’s not what you wanted to hear). If they can go on a little run, that could mean fewer coaching changes moving forward.
This is the most important stretch in the team’s recent history. The games won’t be easy, and Justin Herbert looks like the real thing. It will be a tough way to start the final push for a potential playoff spot.
Fangio’s defense will have its hands full with Keenan Allen, Mike Williams and Austin Ekeler. It won’t be an easy week, and with the Chargers extending Chargers season deep into the year, it might feel like an impossible task for the Broncos. Still, this is the start of a potential playoff push, or a push for the highest draft pick possible. We are going to learn a lot this week.
I know that you are settling in for a day of food, family and football. Thanksgiving is one of the major days on the calendar for so many of us. Here in Broncos Country, it may feel like a challenge to find things to be thankful for, but in the end, this is still one of the best franchises in the NFL. It feels like Paton has a plan. That’s not so bad. Enjoy the day. And remember, if someone serves you spiral cut ham, it means they don’t love you.