It is tough to just live in the moment with the Broncos as a die hard fan of the team. Our coaches suck...then they dominate. Our quarterback doesn’t play football the right way, but then he does. Our roster has too many holes, but then we have backups all over the place stepping up and playing big to help the team win games.
At this point in the season, I’m just honestly trying to enjoy the ride. I ended last season by lambasting our quarterback situation and applauded the team’s choices in that arena since then. One of my major points was that we wouldn’t be in the hunt for playing winning football until that position improved.
Well, here we are. We have six more games to go and the team already has a better record than last season.
What a dominating performance by this defense. Vic Fangio had the team ready to play and they looked to me like a defense that knew the opponents' offense better than the Chargers themselves. We were ready for whatever they threw at us and almost all of their really good offensive plays were perfect passes against pretty darn good coverage.
Baron Browning had a coming-out game this week. He was attacking run gaps and playing well in coverage. He single-handedly stopped a Chargers drive early in the game with a leaping knockdown of a wide-open pass. As the game wore on, he was consistently in the right place, attacking the right gap, and cleaning up tackles. I’m excited to see more from him as all of this experience should translate to better and better play on the field as the game slows down for him.
We really need to give a shout-out to the defensive line. There isn’t any one rock start that is making their pass rush and run defense work, it is a collaborative effort and they are winning the trench war consistently and creating havoc for opponents. Sacks are still rolling in from across the formation and quarterbacks are getting pressured into making mistakes which is exactly the recipe for winning football for this team.
Let’s just call it now: Patrick Surtain II is a legit #1 NFL corner. He’s not finished growing as a player and I’d already build a secondary feeling comfortable with him matched up on the best WR our opponents have. Surtain had two picks with one of them going to the house for 6.
Justin Simmons was SOOO close to two picks in this game. He played like a real star safety in this game and was all over the field attacking the ball.
Kyle Fuller gave up a terrible 3rd and 15 conversion. The announcers called it a trail technique, but let’s be real...that was an “I done got beat” technique. Two plays later he handled an open field tackle well showing the ability to shake off a bad beat and keep grinding. He got picked on a bit in this game (which you can expect in the NFL if you are a secondary’s weakest link).
Ronald Darby got a key pass defense in one of the biggest moments. With the Chargers finally finding some offense for the first time in the game, they went for it on 4th and 2. Darby was right where he needed to be and more importantly broke up the pass to stop the drive.
In the NFL, if you can run a balanced offensive attack that is at least effective at a mediocre level on both sides, you can win a lot of football. We saw it again this week with the team running 33 times for almost 150 yards of offense. The passing game wasn’t phenomenal by a long stretch, but it was competent football and it led to a comfortable win.
Obviously, we need to give some credit to Pat Shurmur for calling a solid game. I still have gripes here or there about some situational calls, but overall that’s just me being a fan...the game plan and execution were very good for this young offense.
Teddy Bridgewater could improve a bit by not being afraid to run when the field is open. He had an opportunity in the 1st quarter to get an easy 5 yards with an open field in front of him. His run for our first touchdown shows that he has the ability and enough athleticism to make good things happen. I don’t think I’ve ever been as ecstatic to see a guy return from injury after halftime as I was in this game. His presence and leadership was a big reason that we were able to put the Chargers away and get in position to fight for the playoffs.
Drew Lock comes out once again in his role as the key backup quarterback from the team...he takes his first snap and fumbles. For a guy who’s only hope to become the guy is to work his tail off and be excellent in any and every opportunity he gets, he sure doesn’t seem prepared to play the game he supposedly loves. His second throw was a little better, but because he was so late with it, the defender had ample opportunity to shove Patrick out of the back of the end zone to nullify the catch. His third pass was 3rd and 7. Surely, this diamond in the rough with an arm of the gods would be able to show everyone how big of a mistake the team made in not naming him the starter by zipping a pass for 7+ yards to show Teddy Two-Gloves how it is done, right?...Nah. He threw a little RB dump off short of the line of scrimmage that failed to convert.
To put the icing on this poop sundae that is Drew Lock in the 1st half as a backup quarterback he rolls out in the flat looking for a guy to throw to and decides that the best thing he could do with the potential of his future career in the NFL in consideration would be to throw the ball directly into the arms of the Charger’s defender.
Honestly, Broncos Country who read my reviews...you know I don’t like Drew Lock. I’m laying it on thick here because the truth is that Drew Lock is not an NFL quarterback. Anyone talking about him as anything other than a bust is either a friend, family member or lives life in denial about things that are plainly seen in front of their eyes. Drew Lock is an absolute joke and should have been benched for Brett Rypien immediately after his first interception. This week the team is making a mistake keeping him as the backup. He doesn’t have the chutzpah for it and it is an insult to football that he’s being allowed to do so badly at his job of being a prepared backup quarterback and is still able to keep his job.
What an absolutely impressive game from backup Quinn Bailey. Unlike Drew Lock, this is a guy who knows how to prepare for when he’s tagged into the game due to an unfortunate injury from the guy in front of him on the depth chart. When Calvin Anderson went down, I was very worried about our offense as the Chargers outside pass rush is one of the best in the NFL (Bosa is a freak...let’s be real).
Javonte Williams ran a pretty impressive draw play in on a 3rd and goal from about 10 yards out to the house. While I still pine for him to get more of the running load, I am thankful that we have a healthy backfield with the one-two punch of him and Melvin Gordon III.
The one thing I don’t get about the game plan this week was the absence of passes to our newly signed WR stars Courtland Sutton and Tim Patrick. We focused on our running backs and tight ends far more than normal, though if that is what it takes to win, I’m okay with our star WRs not getting catches.
There is one simple thing that coach Tom McMahon could do to help this special team's unit: coach Dionte Spencer to stop shuffling every time he receives a return. This guy wastes so much time and loses so many potential yards every play that he catches a return by dancing instead of moving upfield. It is infuriating to watch for a guy who doesn’t really show consistent threat as an elite returner.
This team is honestly in a great spot to finish their season strong and help restore some faith to Broncos Country about the direction that they are going.
I think it is a very tall order to think we’ll win next week in KC, but anything can happen with this team. We’ll need the offense to step it up a notch and our defense to not lapse at all in their excellent play.
It is encouraging to see our team go toe-to-toe with a really well-coached team in the LA Chargers. We put them away and kept them down in the 2nd half of the game with big plays and honestly no big screw-ups.