Did the loss this week suck, yep. Is it any reason to give up on this team, nope.
Let me start with some things I feel need to be said. First off, as much as I despise the Raiders and Josh McDaniels, to say that we lost to an inferior team is utter garbage. This Raiders team was in the playoffs last year with the same players and an interim HC, they added arguably the best WR in the league, and a top flight pass rusher to their core. This team was expected to be fighting for the AFC West title. Face it, we are in a stacked division. The 0-3 record they lost close games where they were up in every game. That being said, this was a game we could of won, but we did not do enough to win.
So lets call out those who need to be called out. My first is to Garrett Bolles. I am tired of the excuses for lack of coaching, letting Munchak leave, etc…this guy is 30 years old, this is the 6th season, he is the highest paid guy on the O-line, he simply has to play better than he is. He cannot be taking bad holding calls every game. There is no excuse, if he needs to be coached every week on how not to hold at this stage of his career then he is getting paid far too much and we have the wrong LT, end of story. He should be the leader on that line, and it’s obvious he is nothing close to that, if you are the highest paid player in the position group, a 6 year vet, and at your prime you better show up week in and week out and not get exposed weekly.
Jerry Juedy, for two years, all I hear is he is underutilized, didn’t have the right QB, etc..but he still is dropping the ball routinely. I’m sorry, but if you are supposed to be an elite WR in this league, you have to make the catches, every ball is not going to be perfect, elite WR make the difficult catches routine. Your number one job is catch the ball. If you can’t catch balls consistently, then you are not an elite WR, I don’t care if you run fantastic routes, catch the ball. And I am a guy that really liked the pick, but at this stage, he needs to be making plays consistently to justify the pick.
It’s easy to rail on Melvin Gordon, I was hoping his earlier fumbles were just more of a fluke aberration, but it’s obvious this issue seems more mental than physical at this point. I give him credit for facing the media, but the question remains, can he get over this, is he going to be a liability, and is there anyway we can trust him going forward. Unfortunately, I think once the label of fumbler comes this late in the career it’s always going to be an issue. Of bigger issue with this game was not so much that we had the fumble returned for a TD, but more that the defense failed to generate a momentum swinging play of it’s own.
Coaching, this game I am not going to be as critical of Hackett as other have been, I actually thought he called a pretty good game, layers failing to execute is different from calling a bad game. He didn’t drop passes, he didn’t get holding penalties, he didn’t fumble. My one criticism would be that once Javonte got injured, we did not adjust well. I understand having limited faith in Gordon and having to rely on the 3rd string RB to carry the load would be daunting, but why not help the running game with some WR reverses or sweep plays to Washington or Hamler, I understand that might not of been in the game plan, but being able to adjust to the conditions should be something Hackett should have been willing or able to do. Most of my frustration is on the defensive side this week, I get that for the most part the red zone defense held up, but our ILB play was bad this week, and the fact that the Raiders were able to end the game by running the ball at the end when everyone knew they would run it was bad. You have to be able to get a stop in that situation, and the defense failed. I think this is the first game where missing Simmons really showed up, we have Indy coming up on a short week, so this has to get fixed quick.
But as my title suggests, I am still very optimistic regarding this season and staff. And here’s why.
We have Russell Wilson, and that can’t be stated how much it matters having a leader and a guy who can make plays when you have to. Unlike years past, if it is a close game, I have a belief that the Broncos can win because we have Russell Wilson. I believe we can come back if we are behind, I haven’t had that feeling since Manning was here.
The running game will be fine without Williams, I know it’s not great losing him for the season. But RB is one of those positions that I think you can find guys that can come in and be productive fairly easily. I think Gordon has a chance to hopefully redeem himself, and if not, I do have faith that Paton can find players who can be productive in this offense.
Despite the loss, I do see this team improving throughout the season. Are there areas of concern, of course, offensive line has been frustrating, but remember we are also playing without two of our starters who are projected to be back. While it was a tough day for the defense, likewise, we are projected to get Simmons back which will help. I see our coaching staff as improving and making adjustments as necessary. Everyone dogged Hackett for bringing in a coach to help with time management. This is a move that I think shows Hackett is the right guy for the job. He accepted that he had the issue, and had the ability to put his ego aside and bring in someone to help manage that aspect of the game. That is the sign of strength and leadership, would you every imagine Fangio bringing someone in after two games to address time management. Being able to put your ego aside and do what is best for the team is something we should all be excited about. That’s probably the one thing that gives me the most encouragement, is that I believe this staff is more than willing to accept their deficiencies and find ways to improve.