Good day, Broncos chaps! Denver has an early game on this side of the pond Sunday morning, so we are getting to the Ultimate Fan a little early.
But it’s never too early for some positivity and OrangeandBluesBros is bringing it like Russell Wilson does high knees - with gusto!
As always, this post is good for my soul every week and I couldn’t be more excited to watch Wilson and the offense get this baby on track first thing Sunday!
Week 8: Broncos at Jaguars IN LONDON!
MHR - I’m out of energy to ask a coherent question about last week’s game (cuz if the game plan isn’t coherent, why should I be?) But what were your varied thoughts on that game?
OrangeandBluesBros: After reading all the comments since the game, I am also out of energy in thinking about it. The Jets are performing way better than anyone expected, mostly because of RB Breece Hall, who is shredding NFL defenses. He went out with an injury, but the damage was done. His replacement also found success in the same running lane. That wasn’t our maligned offense’s fault. That was our celebrated defense’s fault and it wasn’t just the Jets. Opponents have found a running lane against the Broncos over our right side that has yet to be corrected. It reminds me of the Super Bowl against Washington when Timmy Smith set a yardage record of over 200 yards against the Broncos with a play called “counter trey” (I believe) for which the Broncos were never able to adjust. Timmy Smith was never heard from again. Sure, the offense is a disappointment, but the talent is there and things will get better. A Broncos win is coming this week.
MHR - Russell Wilson is trending toward playing. Give us your assessment of Wilson so far - what do you like? What are his main issues? Are you concerned about the long-term contract? Is the current performance more related to communication issues, bad play calls for his skillset, getting older…or all of the above?
OrangeandBluesBros: “Trending” is such a polite word. I think Russell Wilson wants to be on the field, like any champion would, but he is not totally forthcoming about his injuries. Because of that, it’s hard to know what the problem is. He took some receivers to practice with HIM the off season, so the sync should be better than what we are seeing. He reportedly seemed to be on the same page as Coach Hackett when it came to discussing play designs. Frankly, I think Wilson was looking forward to being more of a pocket QB because he was losing a step. As a former athlete, I know what losing a step is like and it starts happening after 30 years of age (I’m in my 70s now and I’ve lost a lot of steps). Wilson has not been connecting with his receivers all season long, so I don’t know if just losing a step to stay out of trouble is the real reason.
But it makes more sense that he is not able to make some throws because of an undisclosed injury. His shoulder injury may have been bothering him long before it was identified as a problem. His passes may be errant more because of his arm than the receivers not being where they should be. His choice of throws may be because he trusts his arm more than he should. For example, the throw to Sutton in the end zone instead of to Hamler who was wide open may have been because he thought he could zing the ball in there before the defender got there and he wanted the points then instead of a play or two later when he may or may not have gotten them (Hamler was open and says he could have walked in, but we don’t know that he would actually have made it to the end zone on that play).
Wilson needs to come to terms with his ability and his injuries for the Broncos to succeed. I was not ecstatic about the trade, but I trusted GM George Paton. I was not thrilled with the compensation to get him, but I’ve seen worse deals. However, I thought the Broncos should have waited a year to give him that huge contract. Sure, maybe the dollars would have changed a year from now, but at least you have a year of performance on which to base your decisions.
I saw Paton’s statement about basing their contract decision on Wilson as a result of his performance in getting ready for the season. I’m sure we were all thrilled with the reports out of TC about how good Wilson was doing, but it wasn’t game action, not even preseason game action. QBs do pretty well in their 30s and the ones that do adjust to their changing physical abilities. Wilson will too, but he can’t be a statue in the pocket. He needs to move around a little so he can see his receivers and not throw into the waiting raised arms of defenders.
MHR - Regardless of who plays at QB, what kind of offensive scheme would you like to see from the coach/offensive coordinator this game in terms of run v. pass plays, play action, bootlegs, etc etc?
OrangeandBluesBros: Well, I’d like to see something different from what they have been doing. Maybe run, pass, see where you are and make the right choice, or pass, run, see where you are and make the right choice? The Jaguars appear to be better at run defense than pass defense. They have gotten leads against teams they have played only to see their opponents come roaring back in a desperate passing furor, but I don’t know if that’s because their pass defense got tired late in the game or if it just isn’t that good.
In any event, the Broncos have to test that passing defense early and mix in some runs to keep them honest. I don’t want to see them try to establish their running game first against a team that has a good run defense. Wilson, or whoever is playing QB, has to move around to buy time if it’s not a run play, don’t pass to someone who is behind the line of scrimmage, get your backs out on passing plays unless they are staying for protection, don’t focus on just one receiver (there should be good options), and don’t telegraph your play.
Right now, I trust Hackett to call the plays more than I trust Outten. But, I would like to see Klint call the plays (of course, I don’t really know what’s going on behind the scenes, so take that for what it’s worth. I wouldn’t mind seeing Rypien start if Wilson is still injured (I think he is although he may claim he isn’t) and have Johnson come in in the second half to shake things up. Rypien won the backup job, but Johnson was leading in TC in the early going and has a stronger arm.
MHR - There has been a suggestion from several sports reporters/analysts/fans to have a different person do the play calling during the game so Hackett can concentrate on seeing the whole game and not be so focused on the next play. While it should be concerning that the Broncos need advice from fans (though, they have helped with the play clock!) do you think this could help the Broncos (and maybe help Hackett save his job)?
OrangeandBluesBros: I come to praise Coach Hackett, not to bury him. However, the Russell Wilson-approved mantra of “Let’s Ride” has devolved into “Let’s Deride” because of several factors, mostly because of Hackett’s performance as Head Coach. I think that’s somewhat unfair. There are four factors to consider in evaluating a game: Play design; play preparation; play selection; play execution.
While everyone is jumping on Coach Hackett (me too to some extent, but I never called for his head), fault also lies with his staff, mostly in the way it is preparing the team for a game. Peyton Manning always says games are won during the week of preparation, not just on game day. So, my focus is more on the staff, particularly Offensive Coordinator Outten. He must not be properly preparing the offense for game day each week. He has no prior OC experience that I know of and, as a former TE coach, even his preparation of the TEs is questionable.
I was one of the first to call him out as well as one of the first to call for Klint Kubiak’s elevation to OC. Klint has prior successful OC experience, but I believe he was hired after Outten, so the OC job was taken. I would favor elevating Klint to OC and moving Outten to something else, like OUT. But I think Hackett will get there as a HC. I also just saw Paton’s statement about being 100% behind Hackett, so I don’t expect Hackett to get fired mid-season. Besides, if it weren’t for a couple of fumbles on the goal line by two different players, Gordon and Williams, and missed field goals and extra points by McMoney, we wouldn’t be so upset about Hackett’s performance as a head coach.
MHR - The running back trio is almost 100% different than it started Week 1 with two brand new guys joining the ranks because of injuries to Javonte Williams and Mike Boone. What do you think of the potential with Melvin Gordon, Latavius Murray and now Marlon Mack? Do you think the coach will utilize the run game with these three?
OrangeandBluesBros: That is a good trio if Gordon can hang onto the ball. After Gordon fumbled both in the red zone (or gold zone) and deep in the Broncos own territory, I thought maybe just use Gordon between the 20s, but then he fumbled in the middle of the field and it didn’t end well. I wish Gordon well and hope he does something to eliminate the fumbles. When I saw Murray and Mack both picked up by other teams in prior years, I wondered why the Broncos didn’t get either one of them. I’m glad the Broncos have both of them now. They are hard-nosed runners, just what the Broncos need. Murray still seems to have it. I hope Mack does too. So, yes, I expect them all to be used in the run game.
MHR - There’s a chance a couple players are no longer Broncos after this game. The biggest names being mentioned are Bradley Chubb, Dalton Risner, Jerry Jeudy and KJ Hamler. How do you feel in general about the Broncos trading away players? Is it important to get some draft capital for next season? What do you think about losing any of these guys?
OrangeandBluesBros: I’ve seen the comments and I agree with most of them that favor trading Chubb if the compensation is right. After seeing the offer rejected by Carolina for Edge Brian Burns (two firsts), I think that would be in the right range for Chubb. He is in a contract year, still young, and performing well. His injuries were not career-threatening and not enough to scare teams off. With the backups on defense that the Broncos have, it would be a good move to get high draft compensation. If not high picks, then no deal. Hamler is an interesting situation. He has speed, but the Broncos have other speed in Jalen Virgil (4.37 40) and Montrell Washington, and a deep wide receiver corps, especially with Tim Patrick returning next year (hopefully). I don’t know what to make of Risner because I don’t focus on line play much and I don’t know how someone who was so highly regarded by fans in his first year can be so lowly regarded now. I’d keep Jeudy because I think he has a good future even if he has been slow to perform so far. After all, what QBs has he had to throw to him up until now? If anyone is traded, I just want it to be a good deal for the Broncos.
MHR - The offensive line actually held up decently last week against a very good defensive line, but it’s not getting any easier. What do you expect for pass protection and how can the coach (if he pulls his head out of his …) scheme to help the O-line and the QB move the ball without standing in the pocket?
OrangeandBluesBros: I’m not going to profess that I know anything about line play, but having the same guys week after week would be a good idea so they can jell. I’m surprised Calvin Anderson was pulled from LT during the last game because I read that he was doing well there in previous appearances. If Fleming can play the left, then great, but we still seem to have a problem on the right. Wilson or whoever plays QB will have to adjust to help them out.
MHR - Greg Dulcich is looking like a solid addition to the offense and good TEs can be such good mismatches. The Jags have a quality rookie linebacker duo with Travon Walker and Devin Lloyd, but can Dulcich be a key chess piece for the Broncos? In general how would you like to see Hackett use the tight ends?
OrangeandBluesBros: Dulcich has to be a key chess piece. I’m surprised with what the Broncos have gone through with TEs so far. I liked the drafting of Fant because of his speed and receiving ability and I thought Albert was a good choice to help Drew Lock because he also has speed, but alas they apparently couldn’t block. I like having Saubert, Tomlinson and Beck in there (not all at once). So, if Dulcich is a step up from them, it will help. All of them can catch and block. I wouldn’t mind seeing Beck in as a FB on goal line attempts.
MHR - Trevor Lawrence is looking more like an NFL QB this season but still struggling some. What is the best formula for this defense keeping Lawrence from having a breakout game against the Broncos?
OrangeandBluesBros: Lawrence will be a good one, but he has had some turnovers and I expect a few picks in this game. Running the ball to keep him off the field is not the best strategy because of the Jaguars good run defense. It may just play into allowing Lawrence on the field more. The Broncos are going to have to score some points to keep up and rely on trading field position in their own favor to get an edge.
MHR - How good is Patrick Surtain and how happy are you the Broncos drafted him instead of say…Justin Fields? Do we even need to ask anymore how great it is to have one of the best corners in the NFL on our defense?
OrangeandBluesBros: Surtain is great and I’m happy the Broncos have him. As far as other choices in the draft, it’s always a crap shoot so when you have a chance to get the real thing, you take it. It’s interesting to see Justin Fields develop and I wish him well, but the right choice was made getting Surtain in this case.
MHR - Ejiro Evero has been amazing as a DC. What has impressed you the most about his leadership and scheme so far?
OrangeandBluesBros: Well, I hope he stays with the Broncos for a while. He’s right up there as a defensive mind with Fangio and Wade Phillips, who were great defensive coordinators (but neither of whom were great head coaches). Evero has great control of the defense and always seems to know what the opposition is going to do. Now if we can just get him to close that running lane opponents seem to find on the right side, I’ll be ecstatic.
MHR - The defense generally continues to be good against the run - in spite of giving up some big yards occasionally (like 64 to rookie Breece Hall). How will it hold up against Etienne this week?
OrangeandBluesBros: Etienne is just the latest. There was Jacobs, Ekeler and Hall, as you mentioned, to name a few, but for the most part our defense has held up. Nevertheless, it’s something that concerns me.
MHR - What are your overall impressions of Special Teams - from punt/kick coverage to Corliss Waitman’s punts to Brandon McManus’ kicks to Montrell Washington’s returns?
OrangeandBluesBros: OMG, what’s wrong with McMoney? I hope he doesn’t get shortchanged at the airport on the conversion rate. I’m generally pleased with Waitman’s punts, but I’d like to see him hold for kicks better. Montrell is exciting. Special teams has been a great relief from previous years. Now, about that blocking an opponent right in front of your returner thing? Let’s not repeat that.
MHR - Both the Broncos and the Jaguars are 2-5 and coming off four-game losing streaks. How important is it for Denver to be the team to snap that streak?
OrangeandBluesBros: Generally, there are no “must win” games this early in the season, but this game is a “must win” for everybody - the team, Coach Hackett, GM Paton, and, most importantly, us fans. I just don’t want to have to listen (read) about more wailing. Broncos win this and get a big THANK YOU from the fans.
Stats for RUSSELL “CAN WE STILL RIDE” WILSON? 23/28, 310 yards, 2 TDs, no Ints
Stats for Brett “Let it Ryp” Rypien? 27/31, 278 yards, 1 TD, no Ints (if Wilson doesn’t play)
Stats for each Broncos RB? Gordon, 65 yards, 1 TD; Murray 53 yards; Mack 28 yards
Number of yards receiving/TDs for the receivers? Jeudy, 110 yards, 1 TD; Sutton, 85 yards, 1 TD; Dulcich, 52 yards
Longest FG for McManus? 65 yards (London will love it)
Number of sacks to the Broncos QB? 1
Number of sacks to Trevor Lawrence? 4
Broncos player with the most tackles? Alex Singleton
Who gets the first sack of the game for the Broncos? Chubb
Who gets the most sacks? Dre’mont Jones, 3
How many INTs/FF/FR for the Broncos D? 4 Ints, 2 fumbles recovered.
How many 25-yard bombs to the end zone on 4th-and-3 will Coach Hackett call? 0
How many non-TDs in the Red Zone this week for the Broncos? 2
Final Score? Broncos 27, Jaguars 13
Favorite John Elway win outside of the Super Bowls? The Drive
Favorite Broncos win ever? SB 50 (32 was a thrill, but 50 was amazing)
Favorite Peyton Manning win? SB 50
Team you love to beat the most in the AFC West? Raiders
Coach you laugh at the most in the NFL? I don’t laugh at coaches
Coach you most want to throw an egg at? No eggs
Team you hate to lose to the most in the rest of the AFC? Patriots
NFC team you could cheer for in the Super Bowl? Niners
NFC team you want to face more than any other in the Super Bowl? Cowboys (I remember SB XII)
Favorite game looking forward to this season? This one against the Jaguars
Easiest game left on the schedule? Panthers
Toughest game left on the schedule? Chiefs at Arrowhead
Favorite Broncos player on the current roster? HOF Hinton
Favorite Broncos player of all time not named John Elway? Floyd Little
Favorite new guy/rookie on the team? Montrell Washington
Food/Snack you have to eat on game day? Wings (with a prayer)
Favorite game analyst/commentator? None
Which sports cliche best describes the Broncos? “That’s why you play the game”
How did you choose your MHR handle? Orange and Blue are Broncos colors, Blues is my favorite music, Bros I just threw in there (but I was thinking Blues Bros)
If YOU were giving a tour of the Ring of Fame at Mile High, which players would you make sure to highlight in your talk? Floyd Little, John Elway, Champ Bailey
How did you become a Broncos fan?
I moved to Denver in 1971 for school and got caught up in the fans' “Wait until Next Year” hopefulness, the warm-hearted stories in the paper about players, and watching Charley Johnson and Floyd Little play some exciting games, even in defeat. I moved in and out of Denver in the ensuing years for jobs, but I’ve been a loyal fan ever since.