Oh, Ultimate Fans...this post is the entertainment you’ve needed all week. After a win that felt more like a loss, and then the trade of Von Miller, Broncos Country has been in even more of a funk than a first down in a Pat Shurmur offense.
But Rossiya is here to save us. It’s the dose of realism, sprinkled still with some optimism, a fair amount of sarcasm (I’m always good for that) and some great stories from the past.
It will not disappoint - unlike possibly the Broncos.
But hey! We are ultimate fans - always critiquing but still always (even if only faintly) believing.
Let’s go, Broncos!
Week 9: Broncos at Cowboys
MHR - So. The Broncos won. How did that Washington game feel to you? Something to build on or possibly one of the few remaining wins the Broncos will get this season?
Rossiya: How did it make me feel? Hmmm, the first word that came to mind was numb. Wait a minute Doc, is this some hidden, embedded psychological test to see if I’ve lost my mind with the escapades of the Broncos the last so many years? Well yes doctor, yes I have. It is maddening!
Like many here suffering from Bronc-mentia, I hope that it’s something to build on, but I fear it’s just par for the course. However, let me also point out we are talking about Washington here. I must confess, doctor, thinking about thi,s I’m now recalling a repressed memory. Perhaps a nightmare? Ah yes, I remember now. Screw The Football Team! I’m glad we fried their Hog butts…OK, squeaked by…especially while they’re down, too.
But Doc, I also want you to know...I don’t hold long grudges, make sure you write that down on your pad because we’re going to come back to these feelings soon and I don’t want this to seem like a pattern, even if it is.
So, returning to your actual question and taking doom, gloom, injuries and QB issues aside, I’m going with optimism. And I believe, at least until Sunday, that it’s something to build on, though sadly it really is likely to be one of the last wins. I’ve started keeping a mantra playing in my mind about young players getting a chance to play, surprises emerging and an honest and vaccinated Aaron Rodgers clone coming to play here, so I’m based in reality and think we’re already rebuilding.
So thank you doctor for this talk, I feel much better.
MHR - Eight years ago in this semi-historic matchup, Peyton Manning and Tony Romo combined for 99 points, with Manning’s Broncos getting the better deal for a 51-48 shootout win. How many points under 51 do you expect this weekend with this Broncos’ offense?
Rossiya: Is Manning coming back? I don’t want Romo, he’s too good on TV. Hey, I got it, Peyton & Eli could buy the team with Archie, and then they could demand Arch sign some national letter of intent or something to join the Broncos. Hmmm, might work.
Anyway, how many points under? Well, scoring 51 is certainly out unless the entire starting Cowboys offense AND defense are ruled out via COVID protocol in the next 24 hours, and even then I doubt they could score 30. I’m going with 38-24 as the Broncos score a couple of late scores when Drew Lock comes off the bench. (No LLV, I’m not in the Lock camp; I had hopes, but we need comments for this post, let the games begin!)
MHR - OK, seriously. Teddy Bridgewater said earlier this week that the key to the Broncos winning is consistency on offense, specifically consistently having explosive plays. That doesn’t really sound like our M.O., but there have been some big plays here and there, so maybe he has a point. Do you think this offense - and specifically Bridgewater - are capable of consistently getting explosive plays on offense?
Rossiya: Seriously? You never said anything about being serious!
OK, seriously, what else can he say? Of course we need explosive plays. But what is explosive? When I played, explosive meant popping the center up side the head and blasting past him to the ball. Or hitting a well blocked hole and not having to dance in the backfield waiting for anything to open up. Explosive was Tebow hitting DT on the first play of overtime and crushing Steelers’ hearts. Duh, yeah we need explosive plays.
And while TB, DL, BR and whoever the successor in the QB room is next year, the quarterback has a part to play in that, but there’s also 10 other guys on that side of the ball needing the same explosiveness.
That said, one broken tackle on a quick sideline route can easily turn into an infamous Broncos play, The Fumble, for example.
Explosiveness in football, IMHO, begins with the heart (or you’re just crazy). It takes a lot to go up and get a ball knowing you’re going to absolutely get crushed, though a lot of money does help. And “heart” in football begins in the brain, and that’s the ultimate problem with this team - it lacks direction, it lacks Mr. B. That needs to change so there is instant accountability. Only then will you see true football heart on this team, when the person signing the checks demands it. How’s that for seriousness?
MHR - Speaking of explosive plays, Jerry Jeudy is in the line-up after a few more days getting his chemistry back with Bridgewater. How is Jeudy a game-changer for this offense? What problems could he cause the Dallas secondary on Sunday?
Rossiya: Fear. It’s a receiver’s greatest weapon. Since we’re talking Dallas here, let’s talk some Bullet Bob Hayes. (BTW, did you know we drafted Bob Hayes too? Another reason to hate the Cowboys). Fast was an understatement. So what if he couldn’t catch that well, the man was always going to get open. Just having him in the lineup put fear in opposing DCs and CBs. It took their minds off other guys and provided Dallas’ RBs room to roam. You saw an updated version a couple years ago with Tyreek Hill.
I think Jeudy has fear on his side, but in a different way. While Hayes and Hill have speed, Jeudy has savvy. His precise routes are one of the ways to be successful in the NFL. If the QB knows exactly where you’ll be, the CB has no chance, the ball is there immediately after the break and in his hands. One broken tackle, and he’s got the speed to break away.
Yes he had some drops last year, got dinged up early, but he’s young and will get better. We’ve had a long line of very good receivers on this team, and I think Jeudy is another in that line, just different.
MHR - Our running backs aren’t having a ton of success, but their yards per carry each game has been relatively impressive - Melvin Gordon (4.8) and Javonte Williams (3.7) last week, for example. Would you like to see the Broncos use the run game more? What suggestions would you have for Pat Shurmur who seems to need some creativity beyond his favorite, “run up the gut, run up the gut, deep pass on 3rd-and-8” for each series?
Rossiya: Yeah, as a former running back I hate what he does with this talent and yet amazed they have the yards per carry average they have. I think that just comes from them being hard runners. I’ve always liked Gordon, and Williams is a tackle breaking machine that always seems one step from breaking it. They are both very explosive.
So yes, I’d like to see them get more action, but if you’re going to run them inside the tackles, you have to have good guard and center play and that just hasn’t been there.
And I think this is the big bitch about Shurmur - if it ain’t working, try something else.
You get these guys outside the tackle box on play action dink and dunks with some early 50/50 balls to Sutton/Patrick or a quick out and up slant to JJ or Fant and those things start opening up. I’m just curious (and maybe JoRo or Sad could comment on this), but how often do we actually do play action from under center? I don’t think it’s often, and if the Cowboys or others expect “run up the gut, run up the gut, deep pass…” then show them the candy and take it away as you toss it to the kid on the side that’s standing there with his hands ready. It’s not rocket science, throw it where they ain’t.
MHR - One of the more curious uses of players this season has been with Noah Fant staying in to be a blocking tight end (and garnering way too many penalties in the process) while Eric Saubert (brought in to be a blocking tight end) is underutilized there. Is there hope Shurmur will figure out which player is which and let Noah Fant catch the ball?
Rossiya: Not unless they switch numbers and don’t tell him. So here we go again, Shurmur not using his talent properly seems to be some continuing themes in these questions and answers.
OK Shurm, real simple. Fant receiver, good; Fant blocker, bad and Ole’! Teach him next year how to block, but in the meantime get in 2 TE sets, run Fant down the seam on a LB, keep Saubert in close to the line and either trickle someone out of the backfield or put Saubert in a screen position and see what happens. Or take Fant wide, Saubert tight, Juedy in the slot and see who they decide to match on Sutton/Patrick. Good luck defenses.
At this point Shurm, you’re likely coaching for your next job. Might want to step up your creative play scheming game if you want another job. That Saubert guy is pretty good Shurm, might want to use him.
Most contested catches by a rookie TE through 8 weeks:— PFF College (@PFF_College) November 4, 2021
1. Kyle Pitts, ATL (2021): 8
2. Noah Fant, DEN (2019): 4
2. Evan Engram, NYG (2017): 4
3. Mike Gesicki, MIA (2018): 3pic.twitter.com/JCQmWbyQS5
MHR - The Broncos’ defense is second in the league for points scored against them, but they have failed to get turnovers or big defensive plays, which is quickly becoming the benchmark for a dominating defense because it takes away scoring opportunities from the opposing offense. Can the Broncos D force some turnovers against this powerhouse Cowboys offense that should have Dak Prescott back at the helm?
Rossiya: You’d think they could with this secondary. Takeaways, however, by their very nature, are fickle. Teams get on streaks; we’ve been in a western drought. But I’m counting on math and the law of averages to change this problem along with the injury bug. As if I have another choice.
So my take on turnovers is getting pressure, either at the point of attack in the running game or QB pressure in the pocket, and the Broncos have had some success there even without Von and Chubb. Let’s face it, if you give any NFL QB enough time they’re going to complete a large percentage of their passes. Referring back to the earlier question and returning to the game 8 years ago, back when we gave PFM time, he put up 51 points. But a couple years later, when he was hurt and the line wasn’t as good, we limped to a Super Bowl win because of pressure. I miss Von already, boo hoo!
Sure, Mahomie, Watson and Lamar do some crazy scrambling, but sooner or later some very large man is going to crush them in half. Fran Tarkenton and Archie were great scramblers and all it did was get them broken up.
So this week we have Dak, a pocket passer who is cool under pressure, a little dinged up and someone we had a chance to draft, as I recall. (Ugh, there we go with those repressed memories again). Anyway, if there were ever a time, particularly when you have few linebackers, to call some creative blitzes, now’s the time, Vic. Put some pressure on the backfield, and the ball will start going all fickle and end up in the defense’s hands.
MHR - OK, the elephant in the room. Or rather, the No More Von Miller in the room…What did you think of the trade - how will it impact the Broncos’ future? How will it affect the defense for the remaining 9 games? How did you feel when the news came that he was traded?
Rossiya: OK, now we go to depressing. Not because Von got traded. I’m happy for him if he’s happy. At least he gets to play for someone with a chance. He’ll always be a Bronco. And he’s been a great Bronco. I lived in LA for years and went to Rams games, so good for both, and I’ll be happy to root for Von and the Rams.
But it is depressing to see such a great player move on. I know there are rumors out there, but nobody can take what he’s done for this team away, so the trade made me sad even though it was expected.
As to the future, it seems they got a lot for a guy they’d have likely gotten a fifth for if he left on his own. And going forward, the draft picks will be handy looking for replacements on the D or for QB. And I doubt, unfortunately, it’ll have much impact on the defense. Maybe it’ll get Chubb motivated now that he won’t have to be compared to Von. One can hope.
MHR - In the last game, the Broncos defense had 19 QB pressures and five sacks - without Von Miller. Although the pass rush will not be as stout without him, do you think this current group - Dre’Mont Jones, Malik Reed, Shelby Harris, Steven Weatherly - can be menacing enough to scare some offenses?
Rossiya: Yes, I do. For the last couple games, without Von or Chubb, they’ve been the one thing working. Perhaps they’ve been overcompensating for the lack of inside strength, but they’ve been getting the pressure needed, even if they can’t seem to tackle a third-string RB. And if this article has established nothing else (other than I may be insane), we do know I like pressure on the attack.
I think their abilities somewhat played in the decision to let Von leave early, or at least it should have, that along with a tank for ? approach. And if we’re going to go all business on this, Von’s salary (yes I know we’re picking it up) versus those guys is a bit different. And with good salary cap numbers and less expensive OLBs taking up money next year, the shopping cart is open for the best, most tolerable, FA quarterback.
MHR - The Broncos’ run defense has been surprisingly poor, and now they face Zeke Elliott and Tony Pollard. Do the Broncos have a chance to stop these guys?
Rossiya: Absolutely. I’m not as impressed as most people are with Zeke. I’ve seen him shut down too many times, as with any RB. The bigger question is can our new LBs fill in? I was semi-pleased with how the new trades played; there’s some slight hope after basically the entire inside core was wiped out. And I haven’t been at all impressed by Justin Strnad, but maybe that’s just him finally seeing game action and getting caught up in the speed.
So can they stop them, yes. Will they stop them? Most likely not. Again, returning to my feelings and LLV’s psychoanalysis of me after THE WFT win, my other feeling from that game and the previous game is that the coaching staff has lost this team and it has lost itself. I just don’t see the fire from the team. I saw some guys that get it and know they’re playing to stay, but I see others already forecasting their likely future.
So I’m going with no. Zeke will get 100+ and Pollard chips in with 75 while I’m yelling at the TV something about “can these guys tackle?”
Zeke Elliott is still objectively one of the toughest RBs in the NFL pic.twitter.com/P84oimztU3— Steve Benko (@SteveBenko) November 1, 2021
MHR - George Paton said he believes in this team and these coaches. Do you think that’s more GM-speak? Or could he possibly believe it has a chance at a winning record still?
Rossiya: Well if he does then we should be psychoanalyzing him. Maybe too many cold Minnesota nights froze his brain.
I like Paton, and he’s saying what a good GM should say to the press. I’m sure he’s also thoroughly analyzed this team, its coaches and has a plan. And if he doesn’t, I guess we’ll be having this discussion for several years. Does this team have a chance at a winning record? Of course since we’re at .500, but it’s going to take a lot better play on both sides of the ball because of the opponents we have left.
Can we go .500 in the division? Sure, taking one from each is not unfathomable. Are the Cowboys, Eagles, Lions and Bengals beatable? Of course they are. This team could get on a streak easily, but it’ll take heart and some offensive creativity to get it done and I certainly have concerns about the brains of the operation being able to do that.
MHR - What drives you crazy with this team? What gives you hope?
Rossiya: I want Mr. B back! What drives me crazy is that a bunch of well educated rich kids can’t get there s*** together and carry on their daddy’s’ legacy. They could be Queens of the Rockies, (no king after that idiot’s video). And instead, as a family, they can’t come together to save the golden goose. Incredibly disappointing.
Hope? The Von trade. I hope it sends a message to each and every player that nobody’s safe with Paton now in charge. That and the chance that I may hit a really big Powerball jackpot and buy the team myself.
MHR - Name a player on offense and defense that has really stood out to you so far this season and why.
Rossiya: I know it’s a stock response, but for me it’s Surtain and Williams. They’re the future, and I’m tired of watching the last five years. I know a lot of people were upset in not taking Fields, but Surtain feels like a Champ, and Williams a Terrell Davis. Maybe it’s hope in a Broncos ocean filled with angst, but I see big things out of these two. Honorable mention to Josey Jewell; he was coming along.
MHR - What memories do you have of Super Bowl XII when the Cowboys defeated the Broncos, 27-10?
Rossiya: OK, finally, the question I came here for and the reason I volunteered. Oh do I have memories of that game, and that season.
For background, I grew up in Durango, which I assume most of you know is a very touristy town, particularly for visitors from Texas and Oklahoma. What you may not know is back then, and often today, we didn’t get Colorado stations, we got Albuquerque stations because apparently according to the FCC we’re not part of Colorado. I think there’s still a fight going on in Congress about this. So not only did we get NM stations, which was ok, but ABQ is in the DAL region so we got Cowboys games, not Broncos games. So here begins my hatred of “them Cowboys”. Grrrrrrr!
So if you’ve been to a few Colorado mountain towns you know they get pretty crowded and driving gets to be a mess. Well in Durango back in ‘77, the streets were crowded with Texans as usual. You know, the big Caddy convertibles with the longhorns on the hood. By winter they invade Purgatory. So one day while up skiing and waiting in an enormous lift line at Thanksgiving filled with Texas drawls, lift ops had the Broncos game on the radio and the Texans were all complaining about not putting on the Cowboys - with lots of them screaming they own Durango and the area anyway, stuff like that. Needless to say that didn’t go over well with the locals, and then they started with disparaging Craig Morton and things got ugly. Fortunately none of them could ski, so we just taunted them and got them to chase us down the hardest run. That ended that.
So then we end up in the Super Bowl against them. What an incredible story, an incredible year. The Orange Crush. The players were legendary in Colorado by that time. A warm glow nestled over Colorado that winter, all to be stomped out by the hated Cowboys and their overbearing fans. I hate the Cowboys for crushing my high school dreams - oh and Cherry Creek too for beating us in that semi-final game. Screw both teams!
Now I won’t go into my actual memories of the game specifically as I’ve forced them down deep and into a small part of my brain that holds other similar, and very repressed, memories.
But I will note the terrible day ended with me in a parking lot doing donuts in my car and pounding my dashboard. When the local DPD officer asked me what I was doing, I told him I’d been listening to the game. He nodded and left.
As I’ve said Doc, I’m not one to hold long grudges but this is the longest and deservedly so. I don’t care if we don’t win one more game this year. Denver, you took out Washington and the Giants, now somehow find a way to win this one!
Stats for Teddy Bridgewater? 22 of 28, 232 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT
Stats for each Broncos RBs? Gordon, 16 car, 87 yards, 4 rec, 27 yards; Williams 8 for 42, 2 rec for 23 yards
Number of yards receiving/TDs for each receiver? Sutton, 4 for 72; Jeudy, 7 for 82, Patrick, 2 for 45
Longest FG for McManus on Sunday? 53 yards
Number of sacks to Bridgewater? 2
Number of sacks to Dak Prescott? 3
Broncos player with the most tackles? Young 8
Who gets the first sack in the game for the Broncos? The most? Malik, first and most with 2, Shelby gets one also
How many sacks will Von Miller get with the Rams this season? ;) I think he gets 7 or 8 more, roughly averaging a sack a game. He’s got Donald with him now, not as easy to double team.
How many INTs/FF/FR for the Broncos D? 1 and 1
How many penalties will the refs get wrong? Every single one
How many bad challenges will Vic Fangio ask for? Every single one
Final Score? I think I said 38-24 above (Cowboys), but it could be worse
Favorite Broncos game? A preseason game many, many years ago against NE. The Broncos were down like three touchdowns in the 4th and with a backup QB, maybe Kubes, and they somehow came back and won. It was my first time at a Broncos game and the only time I ever got to sit in the South Stands at old Mile High.
Favorite postseason win, not a Super Bowl? Probably The Drive game. After the ‘77 loss, to watch that game and go back to the SB, was incredible. Otherwise, the Tebow thing was so unexpected.
Favorite Broncos game EVER? Elway and his helicopter dive
Team you hate to lose to the most in the AFC West? Raiders
Team you love to beat the most in the AFC West? Right now, KC
Team you hate to lose to the most in the entire AFC (outside of the West)? Probably Pittsburgh, they always seem to be a problem.
Team you love to beat the most in the AFC? New England
NFC team you cannot stand? Did I happen to mention I don’t like the Cowboys very much?
NFC team you could root for in the Super Bowl (if not playing the Broncos, of course)? I live outside Nashville now, so the Titans
Favorite game now looking forward to this season? Eagles, it’s likely the next winnable game
Favorite Broncos player on the current roster? I’m liking me some Javonte now that Von’s gone
Favorite Broncos player of all time? Too hard to answer and too short of space
Superstitions on game day? Well, they’ve all gone to hell after the last five years
Least favorite game analyst/commentator? Not sure, maybe Fouts or Collingsworth
Favorite sports cliche? “Keep you eye...keep you eyes...on de bol.” Chico Escuela
Favorite sports movie? “Field of Dreams” still gets me
How did you become a Broncos fan and how did you choose your MHR handle?
Well, dad moved us back to Colorado. We lived at Mesa Verde when I was very little (summer college park ranger job for dad). When I was 14, we were living in Virginia Beach and I was in the car with him coming home from surfing with my new board when we stopped at a light and across the intersection he saw a Colorado plate and said “I’d like to go back there.” Two months later I was withdrawn from my freshman year and heading to Colorado. Got my first kiss the night before we left; God how I hated my dad!
Once there and playing football it was just natural, despite Cowboys games on TV and me actually then liking (perish the thought) the Raiders. Not an option after the move.
As to how I got my handle, I was teaching law school in Moscow when I ran into this website back in ‘06 or ‘08, searching for anything in English and preferably Broncos related. Figured I’d expand MHR’s global reach with the name. Should have made it RossiyaBronco, would have made more sense, lol.
Worst Broncos’ Super Bowl loss to endure?
This poll is closed
SB 12 (Cowboys)
SB 21 (Giants)
SB 22 (Redskins)
SB 24 (Niners)
SB 48 (Seahawks)