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Broncos vs Chiefs: The No Bull Review

The Denver Broncos fought hard but came short in the final game of the 2021 NFL season. Here are my thoughts, opinions, and analysis of the game.

Kansas City Chiefs v Denver Broncos Photo by Jamie Schwaberow/Getty Images

It was a valiant effort, to be sure.

That could be said of this game and the season as a whole. As a fan, I was happy to see the effort the players put forth. It was the first game against Kansas City in recent memory where I felt like the team had a legit chance in the 4th quarter to win the game.

That being said, I was glad when the clock hit 0:00 and this NFL season was over. Let’s kick the dust off our heels and walk away from the 5th losing season in a row from our once great franchise.

Defense

Like much of the season, the defense overall seemed to do a decent enough job, especially when you consider the opponent this week. When you hold an opponent to just 21 offensive points, that’s a pretty good day.

I thought the coverage was pretty sound on the back end. I think the problem we saw had to do with the same flaws we’ve seen through the season: problems stopping the run up front almost no serious edge pressure to speak of whatsoever.

I know it is Patrick Mahomes, but to pretty consistently only rush 4 when your 4 guys aren’t creating effective pressure was a mistake. Yes, it is a gamble, but it is the last game of the season…taking gambles with blitzes is how you generate game-winning plays and instead, Fangio was content with just being “sound” and hoping the offense would get enough juice from it being the last game of the season to make a difference.

Front 7

Kansas City Chiefs v Denver Broncos Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images

Shelby Harris is still a beast. He had his best pass rush of the season splitting two defenders for a big 3rd down sack that cost the Chiefs 15 yards. For a guy only coming in about a third of the snaps, he made an impact with that sack, a TFL, and a QH to go along with 2 tackles.

Baron Browning really benefitted from this game barely sitting out for a play or so. He showed really superb pass defense one-on-one. I want to see him improve in attacking gaps in the run game, but I could say that of all of the ILBs we’ve seen in the back half of the season.

Dre’mont Jones athletic tip was absolutely freakish and helped keep the Chiefs from completing a key pass. But like many across the defensive line, where was he the rest of the game? We need more from our defensive front and I think the lack of talent at edge has really caused guys like Harris and Jones to suffer because the inside gets more help than normal.

I was hopeful that Bradley Chubb was coming alive based on what we saw last week, but this game we saw our star 1st round draft pick go back to the same old mediocre play on the right end of the defense. He’s good, but he’s not great and he actually seems like a sub-par pass rusher at this point. If all he’s going to do is hold down the edge against the run and clean up coverage sacks, I think we can find someone with more upside. I can tell you he wasn’t getting doubled that often at all…why would you when he needs 3+ seconds to make a play?

Secondary

Kansas City Chiefs v Denver Broncos Photo by Jamie Schwaberow/Getty Images

Michael Ojemudia was the shining star from the defense in this game. He’s going to make George Paton look long and hard at the cornerback room and likely save the Broncos some cap space. He had two superb and impactful pass defenses and looked great playing outside corner for the Broncos.

Offense

Let’s start by giving some credit to the players on offense. They actually showed up against the Chiefs and honestly gave them a damned good shot. Sure, we looked like the Broncos circa 2011 out there with a QB who struggled with accuracy passing, but I’ll take 21 points however we can get them when it comes to what we saw from the Broncos this season.

I thought the team did everything they could to win the game short of avoiding the big turnover that cost the team the win.

It is a shame too…I hear this roster was Super Bowl quality.

Quarterbacks

Kansas City Chiefs v Denver Broncos Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images

Drew Lock gave us some excitement, but if you look close you will see a quarterback that regressed to his mean in between the lines. His deep throws are constantly getting overthrown. He went back to oftentimes throwing with a very poor platform which impacts his accuracy in a really big way (I feel deja-vu here…like I’ve been talking about this for 3 seasons or something).

I do like what he did with his legs. He saw the opening, was decisive, impactful, and protected himself with how he ran.

In his 3rd year in the league at the last game of the season with a chance to win and his team on the 13-yard line, he ended his drive with a hero ball throw into 2 defenders followed by a gross overthrow out of bounds. One day, the Broncos will have a quarterback on the roster who can find a way to win. Sadly, that day is not today, nor was it any time this season.

Line

It was a pretty good outing for the offensive line at the end of the day. They gave up only 1 sack, 2 quarterback hits and helped block for a 100-yard rusher. I think there may be a couple of upgrades this off-season for the line, but I like the young core that is in place and I feel like the team has enough core pieces to be able to take a step forward next season.

Running Backs

Kansas City Chiefs v Denver Broncos Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images

Melvin Gordon played like a soon-to-be-free agent playing his tail off for a new contract. The guy left it all on the field breaking 100 yards for the third time this season. He ground out a touchdown, but sadly his fumble cost us the football game (though it is hard to put all the blame on him…he’s supposed to be able to actually get the handoff before being lit up by a defender).

Javonte Williams really had a rougher go of it. He did his best to break tackles, but the Chiefs did an excellent job not letting him get loose. He still rushed for 3.8 ypc which is good but pales in comparison to what veteran Gordon did with his snaps.

Receivers

Kansas City Chiefs v Denver Broncos Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images

Tim Patrick came to play and I’m glad we’ve got him locked up for a few seasons. He was the primary target and rightly so with him making some big plays for the team in key moments.

It honestly looks to me like Jerry Jeudy is getting forced targets and not many of them are really timed well enough to allow his quickness to be utilized. Whoever runs the offense next season, I hope they either figure out how to use Jeudy or figure out that he’s not able to cut it (which I don’t believe for a second…I think our quarterbacks have just been too garbo to get him going).

Cortland Sutton looked like a better quarterback in one snap than either Teddy Bridgewater or Drew Lock did all season long. He made three reads and delivered an on-target ball downfield for a big gain on a trick play. The problem is he’s supposed to be our top-tier #1 NFL WR. But outside of the trick play, he saw one pass for 13 yards. We need him to get healthy and get back to being impactful for this offense next year.

Special Teams

Well, they didn’t poop themselves and that’s a pretty sound statement for a unit coached by Tom McMahon. Luckily we don’t have to worry about his poor special team’s units in the future.

Final Thoughts

Man, am I glad this season is over with. I’m thankful we get to move hopefully a big step in the right direction toward getting the Broncos relevant.

I’ll miss Fangio’s defense, but honestly, he wasn’t cutting it as a head coach. This team needs someone who is going to be a leader in all areas, not just one side of the ball.

I will not miss the “offensive” we ran under Pat Shurmur. It was lazy, predictable, and outdated. Any other NFL team that hires him to run their offense is a sucker.

This offseason the hype is going to be pointed at the head coach, but soon after the Broncos figure that out, the heat must be placed on what their plans are at the quarterback position. Neither Bridgewater nor Lock has what it takes to take this team up a step offensively and they really need to take a big step forward if they are going to be playoff contenders in the near future.