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How long before this defense gets tired of bailing out the offense...again?

It was one thing to watch an elite defense get wasted behind an offense without an elite QB. But this offense supposedly has that elite QB...

Indianapolis Colts v Denver Broncos Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images

KJ Hamler was all of us last night.

If we had helmets on, they would have been slammed on the ground in disgust too.

The offensive performance was so abysmal all game, it’s hard to point to just the last play as the reason for angst in Broncos Country today.

But that final play has everything wrong with it that is wrong with this team right now - bad design, poor vision, embarrassing execution.

Meanwhile, the defense balled out the entire game. The Colts scored just three field goals in regulation, and Matt Ryan was sacked six times, hit 12 times, threw two interceptions and fumbled two times (but both were recovered).

Holding a team to 9 points and getting to the quarterback so often almost always guarantees a victory for your team.

Unless your quarterback also gets sacked four times, fumbles once and throws two interceptions, one in the end zone.

“At the end of the day, I have to be better. I have to play better. This team, this defense played their butts off tonight,” Wilson said, noting there were some good drives moving the ball. “In the red zone, we just didn’t get to capitalize on some of them. There were some plays here and there that we can capitalize on. We were [facing] third and long again too much. ...At the end of the day, throwing two interceptions can’t happen. Can’t happen. I let the team down tonight.”

He’s not wrong. As the $245 million man, he needs to make those throws. And the inability to make that OT drive work in the Broncos’ favor at the end was Wilson’s fault.

But the entire loss is not his fault.

That belongs to the coach.

He says a lot of the right things - “we want to put guys in the best position to win” “we want to do what is best for Russ” ...blah, blah, blah.

Right now the only guys in the best position to win are the guys on defense.

Hats off to Ejiro Evero for truly bouncing back after last week’s poor performance (which was an anomaly for that side of the ball this season) - and doing it so often, as the offense could not stay on the field, and doing it with soooo many backups.

With Justin Simmons, P.J. Locke and Randy Gregory out, Caden Sterns and Baron Browning stepped in with All Pro-like game-changing plays.

Sterns came down with two heads-up interceptions, neither of which could the Broncos capitalize on with a touchdown and only once could the offense muster any points despite getting the ball on Indy’s 27-yard line.

Browning, who ultimately left the game with an injury in the fourth quarter, made the most of his start by getting 1.5 sacks, two tackles for a loss, six QB hits and constant pressure. One sack was so Von Miller-esque the way he figured out the cadence and bounced the millisecond the ball was snapped, you’d swear he’d been playing edge in the NFL for years.

After the game, the defense knew it played well but even then they were blaming themselves for not keeping the Colts from tying the game or getting what ended up being the game-winning field goal.

The guy who made two of the best plays of the game was lamenting not making more superhero plays.

“We have to go back to the drawing board and do better. In those last two minutes, we have to come up with a stop and not let them get into field-goal range,” Sterns said. “We just have to go back to the drawing board and make the corrections we need to make.”

Kareem Jackson had a similar take.

“Defensively, that’s what we are supposed to do. Regardless of the situation, we have to go get stops,” he said. “For them to get that three right before half, kind of hurt. And then, the three in overtime. I mean, we are going to get stops, obviously, we got to do a little bit more.”

And Bradley Chubb said he’s “not really” bothered that the offense can’t score more than nine points; he’s just concerned about the defense.

“Because at the end of the day we know they’re going to figure it out. It’s just a matter of—it could be this play, could be the next play. We just keep our head down, control what we can control,” Chubb said. “You said we had a good game; I feel like we could have done better those last two drives. Gave up three both times and put us in a position we don’t want to be in. Could have ended it a little earlier. As good as we think we’re playing, we just have to be even better.”

It’s admirable but absurd. And offense of this caliber should be able to score more than 9 (or 12) points.

D.J. Jones sounded a little more grounded on the problem.

“We played our assignments and we dominated. We did what we are supposed to do. We just came up short,” he said, acknowledging that losing is frustrating. “But you have to move on. This is not the last game of the season. I always say, this does not eliminate us from anything. We have to learn from it, plain and simple. We have to learn from the loss.”

It’s hard to imagine this isn’t tearing apart the Broncos’ locker room right now, but players insist they are as bonded as ever in the fight to get better.

“I’m not going to lie to you. I’ve been on two or three teams a couple times in my tenure of the NFL, and this is the best I’ve seen guys rally around each other, best I’ve seen guys stay together. Like, nobody is pointing the finger, nobody is doubting each other. We know it’s going to pop. When it does pop, it’s going to be a real awakening for everybody.”

As a team captain, Chubb feels it’s on him to keep the team communicating, picking each other up and fighting.

“I feel like you just have to continue to engage with those guys because if you’re on the defensive side and you don’t talk to them or are mad at them or something—at the end of the day, we’re all the team. We [are] one. We win as one, we move as one, we lose as one,” Chubb said, noting that he purposely went over to high-five the O-line for their protection on the final play. “Man, it just takes that one person to believe in you. It takes a sideline to believe in you. ...So we just have to make sure we continue to lift guys up.”

Head coach Nathaniel Hackett’s reply to the state of the team seemed a little less confident - spoken from a coach who knows his performance is not up to standard and that he is far more expendable than anyone else in that locker room.

“I think the guys are staying together. I think everybody’s playing together. I think we all know that the offense has to put it together. We need to be better,” he said. “From an offensive perspective on this team, the defense needs to continually do what they’re doing and then it will come together. I think all teams are tested through adversity throughout a season. For us, it’s early in the season right now and those guys in that room are really tight. That locker room is really tight. They know they got to play together.”

Courtland Sutton, who caught 5 of his 11 targets, acknowledged the frustration.

“I’m as frustrated as you guys. I know how badly you guys want to see us put points on the board and stack our wins—us as players want the same thing,” he told the media. “We want to get these wins, and we want to stack them.”

Melvin Gordon - who was the target of so much blame last week after fumbling in a key play that turned into a momentum-changing touchdown for the Raiders - knows a little something about frustration at performance.

“We know we dropped the ball. We could have played better offensively. We know that. We do not need to beat ourselves across the head about it. The media will do that enough,” Gordon said, giving props to the defense. “The way our defense is playing right now, they are holding it down for us, but we are going to figure it out.”

Defending his coach and QB, Gordon said it falls on the entire offense to fix the struggles.

“It is just us. We just have to get in a rhythm. We have to stop making mistakes and be sharp on the details. We are way better offensively than we have shown the past few weeks. That is what is more disappointing than anything,” he said. “You can blame the coach, you can blame this, or you can blame that, but at the end of the day, it comes down to us going out there and getting the job done. We fell short on that.”

Hamler, who didn’t even go into the locker room for a long time after the game because he “was processing” what happened, sounded a little less optimistic than his teammate.

“It’s hard man. The NFL is hard. It’s a hard game. It’s hard, hard league to win in. You know, I’m frustrated. I think everybody’s frustrated,” he said. “We just have to stop shooting ourselves in the foot, self-inflicted wounds, and you see what we can do, we drove down there fast. We can do that every time. We just have to finish. We have to execute. we have to finish.”

Asked to elaborate on why the offense isn’t quite getting it together, Hamler repeated “self-inflicted” wounds.

“That’s all I have.”

Same, KJ. Same.


Confidence this offense will ‘figure it out’ in time to save the season

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  • 5%
    (29 votes)
  • 50%
    No way
    (262 votes)
  • 43%
    Just hoping...
    (223 votes)
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