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Ultimate Fan: An unlikely win over the Chargers rests on the running game

If the Broncos have a chance this weekend, it will be somehow getting pressure on Justin Herbert and then relying on our running backs to score some touchdowns.

Los Angeles Chargers v Denver Broncos Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

A away home game at the Chargers but a slew of players on the COVID list and an offensive coordinator who apparently hates to scheme to his offense’s strengths, makes for some tough odds to pull out a win this weekend. And while our ultimate fan isn’t predicting a victory, he is damn sure hoping for one.

Kingbronco58 has been to three games so far and has seen losses in each. He’s hoping to watch a miracle from his stadium seat in L.A. but knows this 7-8 team might even need more than a miracle (aka, a new coach/OC) to pull out the victory.

But a fan since the McDaniels era (kudos for staying through that coaching disaster), kingbronco58 is in this for the long haul and looking forward to a new coaching staff in 2022 and a new quarterback asap (but no later than 2023).

Until then, as always, Go Broncos!

Week 17: Broncos at Chargers

MHR - So. Thoughts on last week’s game or do you want to just move on because that was stupid? (OK, not stupid. But definitely irritating).
kingbronco58: I thought Drew played pretty well and had no help in terms of drops. I don’t understand how Shurmur abandoned the one thing we do well in the running game very early. I really hope they fire Shurmur in the offseason; even without a QB there is no reason this offense can’t have some spark with the weapons they do have.

MHR - Thanks to COVID, the Broncos will be playing without Bryce Callahan, Bradley Chubb, Jerry Jeudy, Tim Patrick, Jonathan Cooper and a bunch of other key players. Meanwhile, the Chargers are getting back Joey Bosa and likely Austin Ekeler. Do the Broncos have a chance?
kingbronco58: Well considering I traveled to LA for this game, I’d like to hope they have a chance (and that it doesn’t get postponed). Realistically, I think it is unlikely. The Broncos haven’t really utilized the WR position effectively this season, so we may not see a super significant impact on offense. I am concerned about the lack of depth at OLB though, when the Broncos won their first matchup the pass rush terrorized Herbert. With so many out at the linebacker position - especially edge - it’s unlikely that they have the same success getting to Herbert. The O-line and D-line are both gonna have to step up to stop Bosa and Ekeler accordingly. If they allow as many holes for Ekeler as they did for Josh Jacobs last week, it’s gonna be a long day.

MHR - The last time the Broncos played the Chargers, the result was frankly a bit of a surprise, with the offense scoring three touchdowns (and PS2 adding a fourth) and the defense holding Austin Ekeler to just 31 yards rushing and getting two INTs and three sacks off Justin Herbert. You’ve already accounted for the COVID impact, but regardless, can this Broncos team repeat that kind of performance?
kingbronco58: With the COVID surge this week, it’s highly unlikely. Shelby Harris and Dre’mont Jones will need to play the game of their lives to slow down Eekler considering the second level is extremely depleted. If the Broncos’ running game takes off, then the offense may be able to put some points on the board.

MHR - I made my disdain for Pat Shurmur’s ability to game plan widely known yesterday, but I’m curious what you think about our offense. Is it more on the QB? The talent level of our skills players? The OC? The head coach? Thunder? Basically, who needs to take the fall for the worst offense in recent memory?
kingbronco58: This horrendous offense is on both the QB and Shurmur. Shurmur’s play calling has been awful. Additionally Shurmur doesn’t do a good job drawing up plays to take advantage of each of our offensive weapons’ strengths. As a result, playmakers like Sutton and Jeudy aren’t heavily involved in most games. Bridgewater hasn’t helped things with his propensity to check the ball down short of the sticks on third down. Personally I wanted to start Lock since he was more likely to grow as a QB in his second year as a starter than Bridgewater was. While Lock would make mistakes, he had the potential to make the offense more exciting.

MHR - In your mind, what is the best/better outcome for the season at this point - lose out and ensure coaching changes plus likely a Top 10 draft pick or win out and be able to claim a winning season for the first time in years? On a scale of 1 to 7 (1 being low), what chance do you put the Broncos at being able to win out?
kingbronco58: Having been to three home games where we lost (LV,PHI,CIN), I’d desperately like to watch this team win on the road in LA. But with COVID hitting the team hard and our offensive mastermind in Shurmur, this feels unlikely. I like the Fangio defense, but I think his time as HC needs to come to an end. The early draft pick will just be the cherry on top of what will hopefully be a new competent coaching staff. I think the chances of the Broncos winning out are a solid 0; they always struggle against the Chiefs even if they pull out a miracle against the Chargers this Sunday.

MHR - The offensive line struggled big time last week to protect the ground game, and the absence of Lloyd Cushenberry was felt. This week Bobby Massie is out. How will his absence impact the line’s ability to help the run this week? Can we count on Melvin Gordon and Javonte Williams to get back to 4-5 yards per carry?
kingbronco58: Massie has missed multiple games this season without a significant impact when Fleming or Anderson fill in. So I think the O-line will at the very least be as mediocre as usual. The Chargers run D has struggled this year, so I think Gordon and Williams certainly have a chance to average 4-5 yards a carry.

MHR - Today Vic Fangio said he’s “very bullish” on the guys coming in to replace the starters/players on COVID. We have definitely seen what Fangio can do on the defensive side even with rookies and backups, so how are you feeling about this backup defense in general on Sunday? What about an offense without Jeudy and Patrick?
kingbronco58: Definitely not feeling optimistic. I can’t name any of the LBs that will start besides Griffith and Reed. At some point a lack of talent will overtake scheme. The offense wasn’t doing a good job utilizing the WR position anyway. So I think the offense will be just as poor as usual, seeing most of the targets split between RBs and TEs.

MHR - Pat Shurmur had a terrible answer when asked what improvement he’d like to see from Drew Lock this week. What would your answer be? What helps Broncos Country know whether Lock has starter potential or even backup potential for this team (or another NFL team)? What do you personally think of Lock’s floor and ceiling…can he be our legit QB next season or has his time here come to an end when the season is over?
kingbronco58: Honestly I thought Lock played very well last week. I want to see him continue that. Take deep shots when they are there and go through progressions. The biggest improvement I would like to see is Lock getting the ball out of his hand faster and avoiding sacks. He took many of them last year. I personally see Lock’s floor the same as I saw Lynch’s non-existent in the league. If Lock somehow develops into a legit QB, I think best case scenario Lock could develop into a Jay Cutler-type of QB - which is hardly what a franchise desperate for a quarterback wants to hear. If the Broncos don’t land Rodgers or Wilson, I personally would be fine rolling with Lock next year since the 2023 rookie QB class is stronger than 2022’s. If we land one of the aforementioned QBs, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Lock be included in the deal.

MHR - Who will be the most important player/players on defense for the Broncos?
kingbronco58: With all the linebackers out it is crucial the safeties step up. Justin Simmons and Kareem Jackson are gonna have to play an important role in stopping the run and also be responsible for not taking poor angles on tackles like we have seen Simmons do a handful of times this season.

MHR - Who will be the most important player/players on offense for the Broncos?
kingbronco58: The obvious answer is Lock, the team will do how he does. The other two most important players in my opinion are Gordon and Williams. If the run game sucks like it did last week, we have no chance. This team needs the run to open up the pass.

MHR - Fill in the blanks: Broncos lose if _____. Broncos win if _______.
kingbronco58: The Broncos lose if they can’t pressure Herbert and let him throw all over the field. The Broncos win if Gordon and Williams repeat their impressive performances from the Lions and score two TDs each.

MHR - Your George Paton…what do you do the Monday after the Broncos play the Chiefs? Who is still here and who is packing?
kingbronco58: Monday after the Chiefs, if I’m sitting in George Paton’s office, I’m looking at the 8-9 Denver Broncos, another losing season and a potential new owner. I send Fangio packing. The new coach gets to pick his guys. So effectively I expect that to be the end for Donatell, McMahon and Shurmur. I am then reaching out to the Seahawks to see what it would take to get Russell Wilson to become a Bronco.

Predictions

Stats for Drew Lock? 15/29 194 yds 1 Td

Stats for each Broncos RB? Gordon: 15 carries 81 yards; Williams: 12 carries, 70 yards 1 TD

Number of yards receiving/TDs for each receiver? Fant: 3 catches 60 yds; Albert O: 4 catches, 45 yards, 1 TD; Gordon: 3 catches, 24 yards

Longest FG for McManus on Sunday? 51 yds

Number of sacks to Lock? 4

Number of sacks to Justin Herbert? 1

Broncos player with the most tackles? Justin Simmons

Who gets the first sack in the game for the Broncos? The most? Dre’mont Jones for both; I don’t expect to successfully pressure Herbert without our LBs.

How many INTs/FF/FR for the Broncos D? 1 INT by Simmons

How many penalties will the refs get wrong? 6

Final Score? As badly as I want the Broncos to win I have no confidence they will. I end my season watching the Broncos live go 0-4 with a final score of 31-14.

The Favorites

Favorite Broncos regular season game EVER? Peyton Manning’s 24-point comeback against the chargers his first year

Favorite postseason win, not a Super Bowl? AFC championship against the patsies in 2016

Favorite Broncos game EVER? SB50

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 entire AFC (outside of the West)? Steelers

NFC team you cannot stand? Cowboys

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

Favorite game so far this season? The Cowboys game

Favorite Broncos player on the current roster? Justin Simmons

Favorite Broncos player of all time? Peyton Manning and Von Miller

Favorite new guy/rookie on the team? Javonte Williams and Jonathon Cooper

Superstitions on game day? Not moving from my seat if things are going well. Pacing if things are going poorly

Most favorite game analyst/commentator? Tony Romo

Favorite sports cliche? Next man up

Favorite sports movie? “Rudy”

How did you get your MHR handle?

I honestly don’t remember, just chose the 58 for my favorite player that I watched from rookie year.

How did you become a Broncos fan?

No one in my family watches any sports. So I didn’t become a Broncos fan until about 7th grade during the McDaniels era. I don’t know what about football and the Broncos caught my eye, but I haven’t missed a game since. It’s been 13 years.