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Broncos at Raiders: The No Bull Review

The Broncos got beat by the hapless Las Vegas Raiders. Here are my damning thoughts, opinions, and analysis on the Denver Broncos’ most recent game.

Denver Broncos v Las Vegas Raiders Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Well, it was a much more interesting ride than the past two seasons. I feel pretty positive appreciating the 2021 season for the Denver Broncos as a step forward, even though I don’t see any way they finish the season with a winning record after this game.

Again, I cheered hard for this team in this game. As a fan watching this game, I was yelling for the good plays and bemoaning the bad ones. I cheered for Lock to hit the deep ball every time he came out of play action with a nice pocket to throw from.

And yet here we are 13-17 on the scoreboard after another absolutely pathetic outing from our so-called offense. Our defense balled out and did their jobs…but we have no win to show for it yet again.

Defense

Vic Fangio is one of the best defensive coordinators in the league without question. Anyone saying otherwise is just a hater from one direction or the other. He’s deep into his roster on defense and still has them holding opponents to under 20 points. It is criminal that there is no offense from the Broncos helping this team to win games.

Front 7

NFL: Denver Broncos at Las Vegas Raiders Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Bradley Chubb finally makes a game-changing play at the end of the half with a phenomenal tip interception to himself sniffing out a screen pass by Carr. He darn near scored the ball as well. He still looks like he’s yet to gain back a step he lost due to injury, but at least he showed up this game. At some point, we really need to see him getting back to being an effective pass rusher because he was mostly absent on the right edge in obvious passing situations.

Jonas Griffith had a very up and down game overall. He did show great instincts to penetrate and blow up a run play in the backfield. It is the kind of play we haven’t seen often enough from our ILBs. Later in the 2nd quarter, he swoops in to attack an outlet pass and makes a nice open-field tackle. The problem with him and other ILBs we’re playing is that they aren’t attacking the gaps to stop running plays. It is the big difference between the excellent play we saw early in the season from Josey Jewell and Alexander Johnson.

Mike Purcell needs to be lauded for his fumble recovery. He swept in, got his big paws around it, and held on while the Las Vegas Raiders had a good amount of time to claw at him over it. He’s doing a decent job up front eating up blockers for what it is worth. It won’t go noticed because it doesn’t show up on the stat sheet, but if you and a 2-gap NT who clogs the run upfront, he’s a guy who can do that consistently.

Just when I was bemoaning how awfully our defensive front was playing in the 2nd half, Shelby Harris changed the game with a strip-sack on Carr. It was a monstrous pass rush and was absolutely needed at that point in the game to help swing the momentum back our way. Later in the 4th quarter, he forces Carr to pull back a pass and take a sack to kill the drive and force a field goal.

Secondary

Secondary giving up little chunk passes to Carr since they play a lot of off-man on the outside. Carr knows how to hit those all game long and used it well to keep drives alive and moving. I didn’t have a lot of notes specifically on our secondary other than that they kept getting in mismatches against the Raiders’ tight end and were made to pay for it.

Offense

The big takeaway in this game is that this offense sucks cheeks.

Yes, the Raiders have a decent pass rush, but I honestly didn’t see it being a constant problem or the offense. There should have been something, anything on the field of play to help get a TD on the board.

Instead, Pat Shurmur dialed up his gameplan once again not tailored to scheme guys open or play to the young backup QB’s strengths…we were calling screens, dump-offs, and 3 yard passes when we need 7 all game long.

Quarterbacks

Denver Broncos v Las Vegas Raiders Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Drew Lock had all week to prepare for this game. No excuses at all this week. It is the hero situation you want for every promising backup: your team is this close to a playoff birth and we just need to win out. Lead the offense to a win and you win over fans, teammates, and coaches. We just needed good solid play.

Instead, we got an absolute whimper.

I’m honestly not surprised…my take on Drew Lock has been for over a year that he doesn’t have the mental football acuity needed cut it as a quarterback in this league. Even with the coaching keeping him to 2 reads most of the time, and him showing some improvement in not hero-balling it to the other team; he still did nothing with that big arm of his.

His passes are still thrown without touch which makes it hard for his receivers to catch (though a fair amount of that blame squarely falls on their shoulders…this is the NFL…catch the frigging ball). He overthrows the deep routes fairly consistently still (which kinda ruins the point of that big arm, doesn’t it?).

It is what it is…at least everyone in Broncos Country can sling some hate about throwing short of the sticks his way now or apologize for all the hate they’ve thrown at Teddy Bridgewater for it. After all, we’re seeing that even with a QB with a stronger arm, the offense is schemed to throw short…there just isn’t any other explanation for what we saw.

Line

The running lanes weren’t there nearly as often in this game. It showed in the stats. Our leading rusher averaged 1.7 ypc.

The pass defense was okay much like it has been all season. I thought they handled the pass rush well, but we don’t have a QB on the roster who can do anything with the ball it seems.

For what it is worth, I do think this line missed having Lloyd Cushenberry on the field. A lot of our inside runs didn’t work and it was largely due to not having a center get a solid push at the point of attack.

Running Backs

Denver Broncos v Las Vegas Raiders Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

Wow, what a rancid effort from Melvin Gordon III. He averaged -0.6 ypc. That’s right…hand him the ball and we on average lose over half a yard. I’m not sure why we kept giving him the ball at all. He got just as many carries as Williams and contributed greatly to putting the offense in bad situations.

Javonte Williams looked better, but he didn’t wow either. Even with his ability to make defenders miss tackles, that initial contact was happening more often behind the line of scrimmage, so his ability only ended up netting us 1-2 yards much of the time.

Receivers

DENVER BRONCOS VS LAS VEGAS RAIDERS, NFL Photo by AAron Ontiveroz/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images

I’m going to speak to the squad on this week’s NBR: The receivers really let down the team as a unit. I know Drew Lock’s throws suck as I said above. But let me say it again: this is the NFL. Catch the frigging ball. It is the key thing our WRs and TEs get paid to do and there were drops everywhere in this game.

Special Teams

We could knock Brandon McManus for his miss here, but I don’t really think it is worth harping on. It was a 50+ yard FG that was called for way late in the play clock and rushed. I put that more on the head coach than I do the kicker.

Final Thoughts

With our playoff hopes truly dashed, we get to switch gears to looking forward to the future at this point. I’ve already started sorting out my thoughts on the team ownership, coaches, QBs, and roster situations at this point. Look for some focused No Bull articles speaking to the future as we wrap up the season in the next couple of weeks.

As a matter of fact, I’d love to know what you fine ladies and gentlemen in Broncos would want to hear about. Feel free to drop some questions in the comments with the subject line: No Bull Question and I’ll pull those out for article work in the next few weeks.