Welcome, Broncos Country to another season of the No Bull Review. I’ve been writing these here at milehighreport.com for a decade. If you’ve been a regular reader, move on down to the review. If you are just joining us in the 2021 NFL season, let me take a minute to tell you what these reviews are and are not.
First of all, I write these because I love Broncos football, and writing about it (and hearing from you in the comments) is a very enjoyable part of being a fan to me.
I use the phrase “No Bull” because I don’t pull punches. If something sucks, I call it out. If something looked spectacular, I point to it. I found this blog by wanting something where it didn’t feel like a mainstream media mouthpiece was just looking at a stat sheet and slinging poo against a wall.
If you want someone to write about the Broncos from a completely objective point of view, you are in the wrong place. Go talk to shills that announce games at a nationwide level or read posts by someone who isn’t a fan of football.
I use stats at times to supplement my points, but in general, I’m not a stats geek because I’ve seen too many people at all different levels of the media use stats to spread really stupid ideas by cherry-picking. Feel free to talk stats in the comments at your own risk as I tend to call out flawed stats-based thinking as I’m more of an eye-test guy.
I write about things I find interesting, players that stand out, and trends in the game I notice. Sometimes, a guy will make a great play and I won’t say a word. That’s because I’m looking at the whole body of work and if that one great play wasn’t really that big of a deal, I’m probably not going to mention it. A perfect example of this in this game would be Malik Reed. He recovered a fumble, but largely didn’t “show up” to me while taking notes on the game.
I welcome you all to the comment section. I try my best to read the comments on my posts and respond to the interesting stuff or answer questions. The comments to me have always been a great place to debate and learn about the game we love. Being an eye-test guy and oftentimes only getting one look at a game before I write these means I can and will miss things. That’s all good... let me know what you saw differently (but please don’t be an jerk... we’re all friends here, right?).
Broncos-Giants No Bull Review
They did it.
The Denver Broncos won a game in September for the first time in years.
I was honestly giddy watching the Broncos on Sunday afternoon consistently take it to their opponents for all four quarters of play.
There was smothering defense.
There was an offense producing at a high level consistently.
We converted 3rd downs. When we didn’t, quite a few times we went for it and converted on 4th down.
We kept the Giants from converting 3rd downs.
While I think everyone in Broncos Country should temper their expectations (it was the hapless New York Giants led by Daniel Jones after all), I would argue that there’s a lot to be excited about as fans of the Broncos after this week 1 win.
The Giants were trying to get their run game going and Vic Fangio’s defense was having none of it. They wisely keyed in on stopping Saquon Barkley. Other than one break-away deep crosser, they held the passing game pretty well in check as well.
Fangio called a smart game on defense with pressure calls mixed in on 3rd downs and confusing coverages to keep Jones guessing most of the time.
There was a little more bend than we want to see on defense, but any time you hold an opponent to 13 points in today’s NFL, that’s a win.
Josey Jewell early on had a really nice tackle in the open field on a swing pass to the RB in the flat. Later in the game, he breaks up a pass to the outside at least 10 yards down the field. His biggest knock historically has been pass defense, but he’s really shown improvement in that area in the first game of the season. He made arguably the play of the game with a big swipe to cause a fumble on a Daniel Jones ill-advised run. I’ve given Jewell a lot of flak over the years, but he’s really hit the ground running this season and looks to me to be playing the best football we’ve seen from him.
Von Miller gets his first sack of the season against Nate Solder masquerading as a fence post. Late in the game, it was Miller time once again as he sacked Jones on 3rd down as they were driving. He looked like good old “video game” Von from 2015 to my eyes. He was (as usual) superb setting the edge against the run with three TFLs in the game.
Dre’Mont Jones makes a nice TFL in the 2nd quarter just dominating the Giants right side. I really like how he, Shelby Harris, and Mike Purcell looked all night against the Giant’s line. They held their lanes very well and often times were pushing the lines in to cause a meager 3.0 ypc from the Giants (most of that production coming from QB scrambles).
Ronald Darby consistently showed great coverage in the game. He’s picked up where he left off last year with Washington in being a legit starting corner on the outside.
Let’s not miss Kyle Fuller, either. He was thrown on very few times because the guy’s coverage was spot-on. Having extremely talented corners on the outside goes a long way for defense in today’s NFL.
For all the hype we’ve poured on Patrick Surtain II, he gave up an ugly TD in the 2nd quarter getting burned on a crossing route. It is true he didn’t get good help from the linebacker in zone, but if he’s manned up on a guy, he can’t give him that many steps. Fangio said as much on Monday:
He needs to be tighter on that one, for sure. We could have helped him out in a couple of other instances on that play that would have made that pick-up a little easier, but he does have to be tighter on it.
This is the best the Broncos offense has looked in quite some time, to be honest. The question now is going to be, “Is this the norm?”
I’m hoping so. The efficient passing game complements the two-headed running attack of Melvin Gordon and Javonte Williams perfectly. The Giants really keyed in on shutting down the run game and play-action off of it. The problem was, the Broncos now have a quarterback who can beat you from the pocket straight-up.
I liked the game that Pat Shurmer called against the Giants. He gave his QB plenty of options all game long to take advantage of what their defense was doing and it worked to great effect.
Teddy Bridgewater showed poise more than anything else in this game. The Giants' defensive front brought the pressure and Bridgewater showed early and often his comfort in the pocket rolling out of trouble. It has been a long time since I’ve seen accurate, efficient passing at a consistent level from the Broncos' offense.
His throw on 4th and 2 on the last drive of the 1st half was gutsy as hell. The whole drive was a showcase of why Bridgewater won the quarterback competition. He was accurate, read defenses, and smart with the football. Also, the contingent of fans calling him “check-down Teddy” need to can it. The dude was dealing it at all levels of the field and pushed the ball to the intermediate and outside in excellent fashion.
To start the 2nd half, he creates on 3rd and 5 by stiff-arming a pass rusher into the dirt and then slinging it up for K.J. Hamler to get the conversion. It was one of the most impressive plays of the game from my perspective showcasing Bridgewaters’ resiliency and trust in his receiver’s play-making ability.
News flash: the right tackle position wasn’t a nightmare. That’s the biggest thing I saw as a change from the past couple of seasons. Bobby Massie held it down out there very well. Overall, the line only gave up two sacks and both were coverage sacks from what I saw.
Melvin Gordon was having quite the ho-hum day until the 4th quarter. He housed a 70-yard run to seal the game for the Broncos and crush the hopes of the Giants fans in week 1. That was a game-changing play and until it happened I largely thought Javonte Williams outplayed him. Both are going to see plenty of touches this season from the looks of it and likely will be seeing those touches against a much softer defensive front than the Giants (hats off to their front-7... they are one of the strongest in the NFL from what I’ve seen last year and so far this season).
Noah Fant was a boss at TE for the Broncos. He caught the 2nd most passes in the game for over 10 yards per catch and is going to be a big-time part of this offense in 2021.
Albert Okwuegbunam had a bad fumble (that really shouldn’t have been turned over according to the NFL rules in any way, shape, or form...we simply got jobbed on that one). He made up for it big time in the 3rd quarter with a TD run to seal one of the most impressive TD drives I’ve seen in recent years from the Broncos. He showed great athleticism, balance, and effort in the play.
Jerry Jeudy was quietly tearing up the field for the Broncos before what looked like a pretty serious ankle turn. To his credit, he got his knee down on the play for a big 3rd down conversion before the ball came loose. Hopefully, we’ll get to see more of Jeudy before the season is over.
K.J. Hamler is looking like a real speed weapon for this offense. He gets a bit of flak for dropping the easy deep ball that was right on target deep down the field for an easy TD. Nevertheless, he was making big-time conversions on 3rd down. In the 3rd quarter, he must have completely lost his defender as he was wide open on the sideline for the conversion.
Diontae Spencer looked good on his two punt returns and got solid blocking from his teammates. He’s going to be a real threat this season to take one to the house if the right opportunity happens and the blocking stays sound.
The one call I partially disagree with was late in the game. I’m not sure you don’t go for it on 4th and 3 in the 4th quarter when up by 10. Being up by 13 still is only two scoring drives and your offense has been killing it all day long. It ended up not mattering as soon after the defense stopped NY, Gordon housed it to seal the deal, but it was worth noting in my mind.
I’m honestly just picking nits here though. That was a top to bottom great NFL game if you are a Broncos fan. We played well in all three phases and looked like a team that is going to be tough to beat.
Get excited, Broncos Country. This team showed moxie in week one. It is just one game, but I’m very hopeful for a lot more winning football than we’ve been seeing in the past few years now that we have a quarterback with serious skill behind center. How many out there were surprised by Bridgewater’s play? How many of you were (like me) giddy at seeing actual competent offense being played by our team? Hit me up in the comments and let me know your thoughts.