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Broncos vs. Chargers Film Review: Week 6

Breaking down the tape from the Broncos 16-19 defeat against the Chargers.

What else is there to say at this point?

Another week, another soul-crushing defeat caused by an inept offense, an absurd amount of penalties, and disappointing performances from Russell Wilson and Nathaniel Hackett.

The first half saw promise, as Denver jumped ahead to a 10-0 lead and Russ and the offense appeared to find some semblance of synergy. But as soon as JC Jackson was benched and the second half began, the ineptitude returned.

Drive after drive ended in Bronco punts, allowing the Chargers to claw their way to OT with the game tied at 16 (the cursed number of the Denver offense), and eventually after a disastrous gunner/returner collision gave the Chargers the ball in field goal range, the Chargers won the game. The Broncos officially have out-Chargered” the Chargers and the season that felt promised slips further out of reach.

At this point I just feel sorry for the Denver Broncos defense who has started the season as well as any defense in the league, giving up just six touchdowns through six games, and still have four losses in four games. I can’t imagine the frustration from the defensive stars, who finally believed this to be the year when they wouldn’t have to shoulder the majority of the load… yet here we are.

I won’t dwell on the loss any longer, as at this point it feels meaningless to continually harp on the same issues we see week after week from the coaches and players. This offensive staff is a problem and it needs to be resolved after the season because through 6 weeks we are seeing no progress. They had eleven days to get their guys ready for that game, and that was the result.

There were some impressive performances from the Chargers game though, and while the sting of defeat can’t be fully eliminated with that knowledge, I do hope these weekly recaps and film cutups help soften the blow of what has been an otherwise maddening Broncos season.

So without further delay, here are my thoughts from watching the tape on Greg Dulcich, Dre’mont Jones, Quinn Meinerz, and Alex Singleton.

Greg Dulcich

Greg Dulcich’s debut was highly anticipated by fans and he did not disappoint, placing a firm grasp on the TE1 spot and making some impressive plays as a receiver and even showing some promise as a blocker.

Injuries saw Dulcich sidelined through the beginning of the season, and with the well known learning curve for NFL tight ends, I really didn’t expect this level of usage so early on. But Dulcich handled himself well, feeling out open space against zone to offer plenty of openings for Russ (which he will hopefully learn to take), showing off his athleticism and route running against man, and landing some solid second level blocks while showing effort in the run game.

Dulcich’s impressive start even saw him rewarded with a busted coverage long touchdown from JC Jackson, and he almost caught a second on the bullet from Russ but couldn’t manage to pull it in against the tight coverage.

It wasn’t all perfect from Dulcich as he took a few poor angles blocking on screens, and needs work on scramble drills, but there was more good than bad and we saw a ton of promise from a guy just getting his feet wet in the NFL game.

Going forward, I hope we see Hackett/Outten expand on his route tree, especially towards the redzone. Dulcich is a nightmare cover 1-on-1 with great agility and wiggle to his routes, letting him utilize this trait will be a massive asset for the red zone offense that currently ranks worst in the league.

Something of note with the emergence of Dulcich is the loss of opportunity for both Albert O. and Eric Saubert. Albert didn’t make the game day roster and is likely headed elsewhere when Paton finds the right buyer, and Saubert’s offensive snaps dropped to a grand total of one.

This isn’t bad on the surface and I don’t have an issue with getting the young guy reps, but it concerns me how many eggs the coaching staff is putting in the rookie TE basket, and how unable the staff was able to utilize Albert. This was supposed to be a “player-friendly” offense that put its players in the best spot to succeed, yet Albert was seemingly cast aside due to them not knowing how to utilize him.

Dre’Mont Jones

It wouldn’t be a weekly film review without someone from the Denver defensive line, and this week Dre’Mont Jones repeatedly jumped out on the film.

Dre’Mont has quietly been one of the best IDL in the league this season, and an invaluable asset to the Evero/Broncos defense.

He lines up all over, from over-center to outside the tackle, and dominates the man in front of him, generating pressures quickly utilizing both power and finesse then using his length to disrupt the pocket of the QB. Dre’Mont totaled seven pressures against the Chargers, and if it weren’t for the constant screens and short pass-game that make up the Joe Lombardi offense, he would’ve had a whole lot more.

In the run game he’s improved greatly this season, exploding off the snap like never before. He’s benefited greatly from the additions of DJ Jones and Randy Gregory, allowing for more single teams.

Evero has this defensive front playing at an incredibly high level with a multiple of looks, stunts, and blitzes and Dre’Mont plays arguably the most integral part of that.

He and Chubb both fall under my category of “please for the love of everything pay these guys”, because the value they both bring to this defense is worlds better than any draft compensation.

Quinn Meinerz

The interior of the Broncos offensive line has been a trainwreck to watch, and I’m not going to pretend that changed on Monday, but what did change was the return of starting right guard Quinn Meinerz.

The Belly was back in full effect, knocking dudes a few yards off the ball on run downs, climbing effectively, finishing blocks, and asserting his dominance. It is a refreshing sight to see, a single Denver linemen gain ground when downblocking, Quinn was sorely missed and provided a small boost to the Denver run game, and even supplied a great day in pass-pro.

Quinn didn’t allow a single pressure on the day which is insane when you think about all the interior pressure given up from that game. Upon rewatch one thing was clear, Quinn is easily the best linemen on this offense and with the return of Bolles frequent penalties and his injury, probably the best linemen Denver has going forward.

Quinn’s efforts won’t go unnoticed by me, even if the offensive line as a whole is shaky at best. For a second year guy coming off injury he played at an incredibly high level, displaying great physical tools and managing stunts and disguises like a seasoned veteran. Now if Denver could just find some guys to group him with, they might be cooking.

Not much they can do during the season, but this coming offseason things need to change. Denver’s offensive line has been a concern for some time, and the hiring of coach Butch Barry has seen across the board regression from every single linemen thus far. He needs to go, and Denver needs to allocate assets towards the front in both draft and free agency. No more revolving door at right tackle, no more Lloyd Cushenberry.

Alex Singleton

I said it perfectly last week…

“Alex Singleton hits everything, and he hits everything hard.”

This game was a perfect scenario to compile tackles, as the Denver offense couldn’t stay on the field allowing for a ton of plays for the Chargers offense. The Joe Lombardi offense, especially against the Denver rush, is going to run quick passing plays to their RB’s and TE’s. On top of that, the game went to OT and saw multiple possessions for the defense. This combined with Singleton’s incredible knack for the ball carrier and ability as a tackler saw him rack up a whopping 19 solo tackles and 21 total tackles, the second most recorded in NFL history!

Singleton wasn’t a flashy signing of the offseason with many fans, myself included, questioning the decision to prioritize a backup offball linebacker primarily known for his tackling opposed to his athleticism. Alex Singleton is repeatedly making me eat those words, as week after week he shows his immense value as a run-stopper, helping Denver to the best early down defense in the league and allowing for more flexibility from their defensive fronts.

A front four like Denver has, combined with Singleton and Griffith, is stout enough to stop the run game while not over-dedicating to loading the box. This defensive flexibility and talent at every level is a luxury the Broncos haven’t known for quite some time.