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Ultimate Fan: Steady offense, strong defense wins game three for the Broncos

Broncos shouldn’t look past the Jets, but it should be an easy victory in a return to Mile High.

denverbroncos.com

TWO AND OHHHHHHHH!!!

It may seem silly to celebrate just two wins - especially to some not-so-great teams - but here on the Ultimate Fan Guide, we are big on celebrations for all victories, whenever and however they come. And to help bring on today’s Ultimate Fan Guide, we even have a song from MHR reader and big Broncos fan, BigFoot Rick.

And by all accounts, this weekend’s matchup with the Jets should be another dub, but we also don’t take anything for granted here and know that trap games happen and bad teams sometimes play great (and vice versa), so here’s to hoping the Broncos are taking nothing for granted either and are ready to put on a show at Mile High.

But before that, we have quite a show here. This week’s Ultimate Fan is new to the series but as a former semi-pro player, he’s adding a whole new level to “bringing your A-game.” Dondada64 was a First Team South Central League (1998) defensive tackle at Sierra High School, where he later coached from 2004-2012 and was ultimately inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2015. Although an injury prevented him from realizing his football dreams at Western State College, he played semi pro ball for the Colorado Springs Flames from 2004-2014 in the Colorado Football Conference where they won five championships and a western regional national championship. He was a team captain and an eight-time All Pro with selections at every offensive line position except center. Dondada64 was also inducted into the Minor League Football Hall of Fame in Las Vegas in 2015 and the CFC Hall of Fame 2016.

Perhaps the most important football item on his resume, however, is that he is a diehard Denver Broncos fan and loves nothing more than watching this team on Sundays - especially in January and February.

But for now, we’ll stick with September games - and wins!

Week 3: Jets at Broncos

MHR - Another win!! It was only the second one and only against the Jaguars, but what were your initial impressions about that win last week on the road?
Dondada64: My initial impressions were we looked really good overall and in control for most of the game. There were moments when things went wrong and that could have changed the momentum of the game. Good teams find a way to seize back control of the game and have a short memory about it. The Broncos were able to do that at multiple spots in the game. These games are hopefully fire-proofing Denver with grit and resolve for the tougher schedule ahead.

MHR - Teddy Bridgewater seems to be playing above his paygrade (from Denver anyway!) and certainly beyond most expectations. How are you feeling about the quarterback?
Dondada64: To say as a Broncso fan you are anything but elated at the passing performance of Teddy “2 gloves and 2 touchdown” Bridgewater would be a cry for attention. Numbers don’t lie, and the numbers show he has played lights out, made great throws, shown amazing anticipation and improvisation when needed. Probably most importantly he has shown good leadership and earned the “C” on his jersey ( Did anyone else see him calm down Bolles last game?)

I am excited about the stability he brings. In fact, he is so stable he is a perfect fantasy football quarterback. He will throw for at least two touchdowns and 200 yards, regardless of the outcome of the game. That’s an easy 20 fantasy points each week and at least 14 points on the scoreboard for the Broncos. Initially, I was rooting for Drew Lock, but his fumbles in the preseason were a nail in the coffin. We just needed a Trent Dilfer-type that wouldn’t give up the game. But Teddy has surpassed that expectation into the “effective and efficient” category without a doubt.

MHR - Courtland Sutton had a huge game last week. Do you anticipate him being the go-to again or will it be time for KJ Hamler and Noah Fant to have breakout games
Dondada64: Sutton is a beast, and he will continue to shine like the sun on a cloudless day. He will definitely be the go-to guy because he is almost uncoverable - but in a different way than Juedy or Hamler though. It’s the way he attacks the catching point of the pass. I believe he will be in the running for comeback player of the year and will lead the team in yardage and receiving touchdowns by the end of the season, even though he is down two to Tim Patrick.

KJ and Noah are truly impressive players but must be schemed into the game plan. Sutton is a game breaker on every play, every down regardless of who is covering him or the situation. In the near future Fant will become a powerhouse tight end and should be used, in my humble opinion, as much more of a red-zone threat currently similar to Gronk. Hamler will also become an extremely reliable receiver and will get better each year until he is close to a Tyreek Hill level of danger on the field.

MHR - Denver’s run game has plodded along but hasn’t really been the dominating factor we hoped. What does Pat Shurmur need to do to get that run game going? Or is this more of an O-line issue?
Dondada64: The run game has been an issue mostly because teams are playing to stop our run. They were betting on Teddy failing and not playing the lights out ball he has. The run game will get better as Teddy continues to spread the ball around and defensive coordinators realize they must be a little more balanced. To get better the key will be to keep feeding the rock to our two-headed monster of a backfield and tire defenses out until we break the big run like we did against the Giants. I would love for the backs to get close to 15-20 carries a piece for the game and grind the clock out. This will become extremely important against teams like the Chiefs and Ravens where you want to keep the other quarterback off the field. With that said, the interior of the line is not playing at its best, but I believe they are playing better together as a whole than they are being graded out individually. Continuity over the season hopefully will be another recipe for overall improvement in the run game.

MHR - The past two games the Broncos’ offense has been able to end the first half on extended drives that have led to touchdowns to go in with a small lead - and then it’s broken open in the second half. Do you like this approach? Although it can be fine against the Giants, Jags and even Jets, what happens against fast-scoring teams like the Chiefs and Raiders? Should this game be a tune-up for those teams?
Dondada64: This is the one major problem I’m seeing with not just the offense but the whole team. We play to our competition’s level instead of rising above it and playing the level we are capable of at all times. Bridgewater called the offense “jab, jab, pow” which seems almost correct.

I would say as a team we play like Rocky Balboa. It’s like we have to take the other team’s best punch and shake it off and say “you ain’t so bad” before we wake up. That will not work against the Chiefs, Raiders or Bucs - just like it didnt for Rocky against Clubber Lang or Apollo initially. So these games should be tune ups, but the Chiefs and Raiders are a different breed and like Mickey also said to Rock, “​​Nah, they wasn’t setups. They was good fighters, but they wasn’t killers like this guy. He’ll knock you to tomorrow, Rock!”

To sum it up, we have to get better on offense quickly. We have to set the tone earlier on offense to get even a small lead, this always will let the defense play loose with their ears pinned back and that’s when the highlights happen. What I do like about scoring right before the half is that it shows mental preparation and good coaching happened during the week.

MHR - Broncos’ special teams was embarrassing AGAIN last week. Broncos tried to fix it with some added ST players just before the season, but a 102-yard kick return for a touchdown last week showed major breakdowns in coverage. What needs to happen to turn this around - new coordinator mid-season? New coordinator after the season? Better film room coaching?
Dondada64: This one is short and sweet. Fire Tom McMahon immediately!!! Seriously, how does this guy still have a job? As one writer put it, they should not be called special teams because there is nothing special about them. Special teams is a mindset and trickles down from the coach. When you have starters playing special teams to improve it slightly, things are really bad. I think we have the athletes to play good special teams, so it has to come down to coaching, plain and simple.

MHR - Going into this season, part of the strength of this defense was going to be its depth. With Bradley Chubb out until the bye, Josey Jewell out for the season and Ronald Darby out a few weeks that depth is being tested. How do you feel about the defense?
Dondada64: The loss of Jewel is nothing less than disastrous and will be felt as soon as we play the Ravens and Lamar Jackson. Then over and over throughout the season as teams take advantage of the now glaring, ozone-size hole in the middle of the defense. I may be in the minority, but I loved the play by Jewel the past few seasons. He has the attitude and mental capability to be a phenomenal linebacker for us for years to come.

Unfortunately I am becoming used to life without at least one of our premier outside linebackers, and so with Chubb I don’t expect him back until well after the bye, if even then. Malik Reed will hold it down until then and Patrick Surtain will hold down the corner for a few weeks until Fuller is healthy. The defense will still be good, and should get better week by week as Justin Strnad and Baron Browning mature into their respective roles. What to watch for depth-wise is the D-line and secondary as we would go down a considerable amount of talent with another significant injury in those areas.

MHR - Patrick Surtain II had some rookie mistakes in his first NFL start last week but otherwise looked very much the part of a future All-Pro cornerback. What do you think of Broncos taking him in the first round of the Draft versus, say, Justin Fields or a potential franchise QB?
Dondada64: The Patrick Surtain pick was gutsy but exactly what the Broncos needed. Even if we didn’t have Teddy B, it would have still been the correct pick. Surtain is about as close to a sure thing pick as you can get. He was literally bred and groomed to be an amazing corner - and those are hard to find. Last year we were devastated by injuries to the secondary, and Fangio expects his corners to get their hands dirty in the tackling department, so injuries will always be a part of our game plan. With that said, it was smart to plan for the already expected, and it has obviously already paid a high dividend back. Expect the same for years to come with a ceiling of a Hall of Famer and floor of at least a Ring-of-Famer out of Surtain.

MHR - The officiating was horrendous last week, but the penalties were also out of control by the Broncos. How do you think Vic Fangio handled “that bullsh*t” this week with his team? Do you expect a much cleaner game?
Dondada64: I expect a much cleaner game. Once the coach starts to think his team is undisciplined, he usually will implement some uncomfortable situations in practice that gets the team’s attention. That’s not Broncos ball anyway; we are not a dirty team and play our best when focused. You can’t control the refs but you can try and control the situations you get in to keep the refs out of the game. Vic will also use the captains to get through to the players about cleaning it up.

MHR - The Jets have looked pretty terrible, but there’s always the game that bad teams “put it together.” How do the Broncos avoid getting too certain of their big predicted win and take care of business at home?
Dondada64: 3 steps to victory!

  1. Defense dominates the line of scrimmage, less than 75 rushing yards for the Jets
  2. Offense controls the clock and plays the field position game
  3. Special teams does not give up the big play

This is the classic trap game where you look past what seems obvious to the bigger fight down the road. If the Broncos can play sound defense, take what the Jets give them defensively and not make a turnover, look for a blowout win. Can’t look forward yet, one game at a time mentality.

MHR - Broncos are 2-0 and coming back for their first game with a Mile High crowd in nearly two years. How excited will Mile High be? How much of a factor can this crowd be for the win?
Dondada64: The crowd will be on fire and will sound like a wild stampede and rocky mountain thunder mixed together anytime Denver does something right. Denver is always a tough place to play, and the crowd is the main reason. People try and play it up that it’s the elevation that makes Mile High a tough place, but these are professionally trained athletes with oxygen on the sidelines. The crowd In Denver is the real presence, the weight, the pressure that crumbles other teams. Look for the Mile High crowd to create a few offsides penalties for the Jets and to give the advantage to Denver’s defense by making all communication for the Jets non-verbal on the field.

Predictions

Stats for Teddy Bridgewater? 2 TD passes, 28 of 34 receptions, 250 yards

Stats for each Broncos RB? Gordon: 18 carries, 115 yards, 2 TDs; Williams: 13 carries, 78 yards

Number of yards receiving/TDs for each receiver? Sutton: 11 receptions, 1 TD, 105 yards; Hamler: 4 receptions, 35 yards; Patrick: 3 receptions, 45 yards, 1 TD; Fant: 6 receptions, 80 yards

Longest FG for McManus? 55 yards

Number of sacks to Bridgewater? 1

Number of sacks to Zach Wilson? 4

Broncos player with the most tackles? Kareem Jackson

Who gets the first sack in the game for the Broncos? The most? Dre’mont Jones and then it’s Miller time

How many INTs/FF/FR for the Broncos D? 2 picks

How many penalties will the refs get wrong? LoL, 3

Final Score? 35-10 Broncos

The Favorites

Favorite Broncos game with Peyton Manning? SuperBowl 50

Favorite Broncos game EVER? SuperBowl 32 - I remember after we won people celebrating in the street together. Nothing can ever top that!

Team you hate to lose to the most in the AFC West? Raiders

Team you love to beat the most in the AFC West? Chiefs

Team you hate to lose to the most in the AFC? Patriots

Team you love to beat the most in the AFC? Raiders

NFC team you cannot stand? Seattle Angry Chickens

NFC team you could root for in the Super Bowl (if not playing the Broncos, of course)? Cardinals

Favorite game looking forward to this season? Ravens vs. Broncos

Favorite Broncos player on the current roster? Kareem Jackson. Man, he will lay the wood on anyone, lethal tackler. I call him the Torpedo.

Favorite Broncos player of all time? Vance Johnson (what a great guy! follow his Facebook for inspiration)

Favorite new guy/rookie on the team? Patrick Surtain (PS2)

Superstitions on game day? Just to watch the game. I have watched every game since I was 7 years old, and the “Drive” happened. I used to have a lot of superstitions before we lost to Jacksonville in 1996. That loss made me sick for a week and taught me the most I can do is send them energy during the game while watching; the other stuff is just stress.

Least favorite game analyst/commentator? Joe Buck

Favorite sports cliche? There’s no I in team (football is the truest team sport of them all, so it’s perfect)

Favorite sports movie? Greater

How did you become a Broncos fan?

I moved to Colorado on Jan. 11, 1987, from Texas. I walked into my Auntie’s house and the family was watching the AFC championship. I had never felt that excitement in my life. My uncles were screaming and celebrating, and it hooked me completely. That day changed my future as my life then became about playing, watching and absorbing as much football as I could. That has been my Sunday ever since, and for some it’s not understandable how I am so religious about watching a “game” and rooting for the Broncos. It took my wife years to understand you can have me for the whole week except for 3 hours on a Sunday when the Broncos play. We have changed BBQs, flights, birthday parties, engagements and anything else that happens to come up at the same time as the game. Thanks for the opportunity to give my input.

Go Broncos, and long live Broncos Country!!!!!