Well, ultimate fans, it’s the last game, and while a bunch of fans may not show up for the home finale at Mile High today, we know you are showing up. And although we almost had a no-show for the UFG, OrangeandBluesBros came off the bench as backup to make sure we have a UFG finale. And it turns out he was the perfect choice as he is picking an upset over the Chiefs. LOVE IT!
So a HUGE thanks to OABB for that and for just generally being one of the most reliable readers and commenters on this post every week. I really appreciate you and the loyal readers for this post in particular! AND then let me also say another gigantic THANK YOU to each of the participants this season. It really is a fun series for me to do and always lifts my spirits about the team, whether they’re playing well or not. You guys have been funny and insightful and heroic in your support. Mile High Salute to you!
Unfortunately, this has been another bummer of a season for the team, but as any fan from the 60s will remind you, there are brighter days ahead and turning around a program doesn’t happen overnight. We will get there, Broncos Country. At some point.
Maybe it will be today against the Chiefs. But even if it isn’t, that’s no reason not to support some of the future stars on the field today.
One more time in front of the home crowd. pic.twitter.com/L8PzgbcRDS— Denver Broncos (@Broncos) January 8, 2022
Week 18: Chiefs at Broncos
MHR - One. More. Game. And it means nothing…again. Or does it? How are you looking at this matchup against the Chiefs? Is there hope for a surprising win? What will be worth watching?
OrangeandBluesBros: Final exam time, not just for me on Laurie’s probing questionnaire, but for Lock and Fangio. Shurmur and McMahon already failed and are just marking time until the axe falls. This season repeat is time to send the Chefs packing (they are packing for the playoffs, but will not be staying home right away because they will not get the No. 1 seed). The Broncos win this one. Fangio’s defense held them to a relatively low score last time and could have won if they could only score points. The Broncos score enough points this time to get it done. What’s that you say, something about orange and blue kool-aid? Yes, and it tastes good, they even have a name for it in a song: Bam, bam, bam, bam bam, TEQUILA. I’ve picked the Broncos to win every week of the season and I’m not going to stop now. They have a chance and the game definitely will be worth watching.
MHR - You have been a longtime fan. Although it has been a minute since the team has had five years in a row of losing seasons, what advice do you have for Broncos Country on hanging in there with this franchise?
OrangeandBluesBros: You know, I don’t get it with the fans who predict Broncos losses. Why pick the Broncos to lose and be miserable all week, or in some cases all year and be miserable for all that pre-game time? Following in the tradition of Pat Bowlen, I pick the Broncos to win and make them disappoint me if they don’t win. Then I can be optimistic all week and only be down the day after the game. Believe me, I am really down after a Broncos loss, enough that I try to stay away from people to avoid snapping at them. After all, isn’t that what we expect from our players? Blow it off and move on.
MHR - Obligatory Drew Lock question: How did you feel about his performance in the game against the Chargers, despite the loss? He believes he is good enough to be an NFL starter and that he’s shown that in just a few games. Do you agree? Would you like to see him be the starter here?
OrangeandBluesBros: The obligatory pre-comment statement: I am not a Lock fan or a Lock detractor. I want every QB for the Broncos to play well. However, did not get to see much of Lock play this year and missed both Chargers games because I live out of state (Florida) and its difficult to watch a game live with the Covid thing going around and trying to avoid crowds, like in sports bars, especially when they only have the Broncos game on one TV and you have to crane your neck to see around a cornet just to catch a glimpse of the game. If the games are early, 10 am MT, I have a place I can go, but almost all the Broncos games are the late game and that locale that shows the games closes ½ hour into the late games (5 pm ET). So the following comments are based upon what I read and replays when I can catch them on NFL Net (which shows a minute of most teams plays, but only 5 seconds of a bronco game and then only if the play favors the team we are playing. I think Drew isn’t as accurate as he thinks he is and relies on receivers to make good or great catches. He is good enough to be a starter for an NFL team, but he needs more seasoning (development). He is certainly better than Siemian, Sloter, and others that are still around playing back up in the NFL. I’d like to see how good he is when he gets that development. I’d like to see him try again to be a starter here in competition with other good QBs that can ensure a high baseline for performance if he falters, maybe a contract for a veteran that has performance clauses in it, so if Lock beats them out the broncos aren’t on the hook for too much money with someone playing back up or not at all.
MHR - The offense moved the ball better last week but still failed to score much when down in the red zone. Listening to Pat Shurmur, this happenstance is just the way it is sometimes and better execution is needed. What percentage of our offensive woes would you place on each of these - Shurmur’s scheme; the quarterback(s); the talent level of the offense?
OrangeandBluesBros: Shurmur is talking in circles as he throws players under the bus. If Shurmur wants better execution, he should coach better. Shurmur also should be better at matching the plays to both the players strengths and to the situation on the field. The talent is there to work with. Maybe Shurmur needs someone behind him with their arms coming through to shape the offense like the actors in the movie “Ghost” spinning a clay pot. There’s an image for you. What ever happened to that coach named Bill Musgrave who could design great plays but didn’t know when to call them? Maybe we can have an OC committee with play designers and an overall OC to actually call they plays (not Shurmur, I mean someone who can understand the situation and figure out which incredible play his committee came up with to apply to the situation and don’t be predictable. Anyway, the percentage is 80% Shurmer’s scheme, 10% the QB, and 10 % on talent (mostly the O line downgrading the rest of the talent).
MHR - Javonte Williams has had a monster of a season along with a rather quietly strong one from Melvin Gordon as well. Kansas City has often given up a lot of yards to Denver’s running backs…could they both get 100 yards against the Chiefs on Sunday? Or at least combine for a great day of rushing?
OrangeandBluesBros: I love seeing the “Angry Run” competition on NFL Net and Javonte has won it a couple times, once with the help of Meinerz. MG has been great, except for the critical fumbles (deep in our own territory and in the red zone after a terrific drive that ended in no points). I don’t know about scoring 200 yards split between them against the Chefs, but they can certainly combine for close to 200 yards and keep the Chefs guessing as we mix in some good passing to keep them from crowding the line.
"Playing running back, it's either you got it or you don't."— Denver Broncos (@Broncos) January 8, 2022
Power and finesse: The one-two punch of @javontewill33 and @Melvingordon25 » https://t.co/xy4jSDwkVh pic.twitter.com/fDUNSEPkNj
MHR - One of the biggest frustrations of this passing offense has been its inefficiency - the “short of the sticks” throws by Bridgewater or the airmail passes from Lock. Is it possible for Lock and his receivers to air it out against the Chiefs and have an explosive game to at least try and keep up with the Mahomeses?
OrangeandBluesBros: Actually, I don’t mind the “short of the sticks” approach as long as they don’t do it all the time and the play is to someone who can turn the play into a “beyond the sticks” result. Other teams do that too. The ones I hate are the ones that are behind the line of scrimmage and the defense knows it’s coming which results in a loss of yards. Lock needs to hit receivers all over the field, short of the sticks, beyond the sticks, and way beyond the sticks. Set up a receiver short of the sticks, draw the defense in, fake the short, and throw it long, maybe to one of our streaking tall receivers who can take it to the house (Sutton, Patrick, Fant, Albert O, hell even Jeudy). Yes, its possible to “air it out” against the Chefs and I hope the Broncos do that, but I hope Mahomes doesn’t keep up with us because he’s throwing interceptions and Lock is not..
MHR - Denver will get back 12 players from the COVID list but will still be without its two starting corners, rookie sensation Pat Surtain and Ronald Darby. How could that impact what the Chiefs can do downfield?
OrangeandBluesBros: Well, of course, the Chefs will be taking shots at the remaining CBs downfield, but how successful that is depends on how much time our defense gives him to do it. I hope our pass rush can pressure Mahomes just enough to make it easier for the CBs.
MHR - The Broncos have struggled mightily to pressure quarterbacks since losing Von Miller to the Rams. Are Bradley Chubb, Malik Reed & Co. capable of making Mahomes sweat…even just a little?
OrangeandBluesBros: Frankly, I think the Broncos have been playing better without Miller this year than with him. Scandalous comment, huh? But Von was more talking a good game than playing one the weeks before he was traded. I know he was playing injured and he is a great player, but missing Von is not as big a problem as it once was. I hope his foot/ankle/toe or whatever heals and he rides the Rams to success. However, Chubb is coming on and both Jonathan Cooper and Malik Reed have had some success. I’ll have to trust Fangio to come up with schemes with what we have to get the job done.
MHR - If the Broncos are going to have a chance on Saturday, which unit is the most important for success - offense or defense? What do we need from special teams?
OrangeandBluesBros: “Most important” is a tough term. The Broncos need all three to fire on all cylinders. I know they can, they just have to do it (hello, Nike). Special teams needs to be “special” and not just an obligatory bunch of 11 players on the field. That doesn’t make them “most important,” just “carry your own weight” important.
in blue. pic.twitter.com/OGYVoaFuL0— Denver Broncos (@Broncos) January 8, 2022
MHR - Describe this season in one word. Then feel free to elaborate.
OrangeandBluesBros: “Over” Every year, most of us fans come in with expectations, differing expectations to be sure, but the twists and turns, covid and injuries, additions and subtractions, and hopes and disappointments have worn most of us down. Even though there is one game left, the Broncos are not going to the playoffs. So the season is over. It’s now time to start looking toward next season and develop new expectations, while the Broncos put the nail in the coffin of this season, win or lose.
MHR - Every offseason means changes to the roster. Which players do you think NEED to remain Broncos, even if (like me) you want all of them to stay?
OrangeandBluesBros: Like MG said, we have a talented team that could go a long way next season, maybe even the SB. I’d like Lock to stay even if it’s only to give him one last chance. I expect Teddy to move on, not because I don’t like him, but because I think he will do well enough somewhere else and we need a monumental improvement at QB. We need some improvement in both lines, but it’s more fill in types, not necessarily replacement types. The backups either step up or step out. The DBs are looking good, but we don’t have the embarrassment of riches there we thought we did. Simmons and Sterns are keepers, so are Surtain and Darby. Fuller can come back on a lesser salary and play slot, not boundary. Callahan’s availability is the biggest question, is he worth holding down a position and if so, for how much? I don’t know the answer to that. Bolles, Meinerz, and Muti need to stay. Our receivers and TEs need to stay (Sutton, Patrick, Jeudy, Hamler, Fant, Albert O, and Saubert). Of course, Williams needs to stay, maybe Gordon at the right price for his age and fumble history (I like him but I remember he wanted more money than the Chargers offered him and we got him for even less than the Chargers offered, so I’m not sure what it will take to keep him). A lot of non-starters need to stay because they have filled in well. I can’t say keep everyone, but keep most.
MHR - What would you like to see happen within the Broncos organization for major changes - from ownership on down to coaches to assistants to QB? Do you “trust” in The Bowlen Trust to pick the right owner? Do you trust Paton to make good personnel changes?
OrangeandBluesBros: I’d like to see a Bowlen, like Brittany, work out a deal with the family to continue ownership of the Broncos. They would be smart to do so. The Broncos are worth in the neighborhood of $4B now, but the gambling effect is reportedly going to send that price sky high, maybe in the $16B range. So, a new owner coming in now may be just for the money and not for the team, while a new owner later will have to be serious about the team, not just the money. Yes, I think the Bowlen Trust has already worked out an arrangement with the Bowlen family and its Brittany in the forefront. They are talking to banks to work out the financing. Otherwise, the rumors about a new owner would be more robust, not just speculation with a deadline approaching fast. I have utmost admiration for Paton for what he has accomplished so far, even though I was skeptical before he was hired. He will have another great draft and veteran hires.
MHR - What is your favorite memory of a good rivalry game between the Chiefs and Broncos?
OrangeandBluesBros: I’m too old to have many memories still in my mind and I’m rushing this entry in the UFG too fast to slow down long enough to try to resurrect them. I like all the ones where we won.
MHR - Broncos have lost a lot of “alumni” this year, including Demaryius Thomas, Dan Reeves, Greg Robinson and Odell Barry. Any favorite memories of each/any?
OrangeandBluesBros: Well, I have DT’s jersey (actually I gave it to my son, who I raised a Broncos fan), so a lot of his plays, including the playoff walk off TD for DT from TT and many from Manning to DT. Greg Robinson was a great DC, up there with Wade and Vic. Dan Reeves was an awesome coach, but I remember more his battles with Elway, his drafting Elway’s “replacement” (Tommy Maddox) who was a sophomore when he was drafted and never really developed, and his consternation with Shanahan for working behind his back with Elway to put on a spectacular offensive show. It doesn’t seem fair to Reeves that that’s what I remember because he was a great coach in a run emphasized offense, but of course he was a great running back before he became a coach, so I get his preference. It took Elway a long time to appreciate that preference, until TD came along. May they all rest in peace.
In 39 years as a player and coach, Dan went to nine Super Bowls, the third most by an individual. @broncos_sacco reflects on the greatness of Dan Reeves, as a person and as a coach » https://t.co/RxzGpuBZvn pic.twitter.com/pdASAQAUVA— Denver Broncos (@Broncos) January 3, 2022
Ooh, I hate predicting stats, and I once tried to calculate if I predict this for this guy what do I have to predict for this other guy to make the numbers come out right. Too much effort, so this is a toss against the wall.
Stats for Drew Lock? 2TDs, 330 yards, no INTs
Stats for each Broncos RB? MG 110, 1TD; JW 78 yards 1 TD
Number of yards receiving/TDs for each Broncos’ receiver? Sutton 89 yards, 1 TD; Patrick 67 Yards, no TDs; Fant, 65 yards, 1 TD
Longest FG for McManus? 68 yards and a wink at Fangio
Number of sacks to Lock? 3
Number of sacks to Patrick Mahomes? 3
Broncos player with the most tackles? Browning
Who gets the most sacks? Cooper
How many INTs/FF/FR for the Broncos D? 3 INTs, 1FF, 2FR
How many penalties will the refs get wrong? All of them against the Broncos
Final Score? Broncos 31, Chefs 27
Favorite Broncos game EVER? MNF, the first one ever (I was there as Floyd Little’s guest)
Favorite game with Peyton Manning? SB50
Favorite game with John Elway? SB32 (the helicopter did it for me)
Favorite Broncos game pre-Elway? 1974 Broncos v. SF with Charley Johnson/Floyd Little
Team you hate to lose to the most? Raiders
Non AFC West team you hate to lose to the most? Patriots
NFC team you could root for in the Super Bowl? Rams (for Von’s sake)
Team you love to beat? Raiders
Favorite time Broncos were the underdog and won? Tim Tebow playoff game v. Steelers
Favorite Broncos player on the current roster? Fant (waiting for him to bust out)
Favorite Broncos player of all time? Floyd Little (he saved the franchise and I knew him personally)
Favorite new guy/rookie on the team? Meinerz and Surtain (can’t decide between them)
Superstitions on game day? I just have to wear Broncos colors
Least favorite game analyst/commentator? I don’t have a least favorite, I just ignore the ones I don’t like.
Favorite sports cliche? Ooh, I know the answer to this one, but I just can’t think of it.
Favorite sports movie? I like a lot of them and don’t have a favorite.
How did you get your MHR handle?
Combined Broncos colors with love of the Blues music and threw in “Bros” because it just begged for a reference to the Blues Bros. movie.
How did you become a Broncos fan?
I attended the University of Denver starting in 1971 and read all the heartwarming stories about Broncos players, then listened to Broncos fans who had endured the hard times of the ‘60s and truly believed they were just a “player or two away” from a good year. My sympathy made me a Broncos fan and I’ve been a die hard fan ever since, even though I’ve moved from Colorado to California (SF area), back to Colorado, back to California (Los Angeles area), then to DC, and now to Florida. I swear the Raiders were following me around in those California moves, and I never liked them.
Ten years ago today …pic.twitter.com/J1SGa5qwyr— Andrew Mason (@MaseDenver) January 8, 2022