Well Broncos Country, it’s Week 14 and the Broncos sit at 3-9, easily staring down a 3-14 finish if they’re not careful. And although it has taken 9 losses before an ultimate fan picks a loss from the Broncos, that’s at least 7 more than I would have guessed. Because there is no denying that this team is pretty bad.
But I don’t bring up the prediction of a loss as a critique but rather a praise. DailyDose’s post this week is perfect. It’s just the right amount of realistic analysis of where this team with enough hope that it will get better...at some point.
And his perspective on how the locker room might be feeling right now is the best I’ve seen yet - without the hyperbole of TV analysts or the PR-coached answers of our players. A perfect assessment, in my opinion. Also, his tribute to Demaryius Thomas is worth the price of admission. Thanks, DD!
Yours truly is going to be at the game this weekend, and I have zero confidence in a win. But at this point, I don’t care. I’ll be hoping for any kind of miracle on offense to get some drives - maybe even a touchdown - and I’ll be cheering on that defense all damn day to stop Mahomes and Kelce.
So hey, let’s go Broncos...losing seasons be damned!
Work week ✅#KCvsDEN 's » https://t.co/KIzCBxxBXR pic.twitter.com/2CvWMW1K14— Denver Broncos (@Broncos) December 9, 2022
Week 14: Chiefs at Broncos
MHR - Let’s stay away from the negative right off the bat…what gave some glimmer of hope from the Baltimore loss?
DailyDose: Greg Dulcich. Easily. I don’t know if he’s necessarily the greatest blocker, but the fact he’s seeing a lot of snaps his rookie year and is increasingly becoming the only offensive positive week in and week out gives me a lot of hope for this guy in the future. Two of the best teams in the NFL have 2 of the most productive TEs. Broncos set the NFL scoring record with a lot of contributions from Julius Thomas. And of course when Denver won back-to-back SBs, HOFer Shannon Sharpe was there wrecking and trash-talking DBs. So hoping Greg continues to grow and improve, because he’ll be a very nice and positive piece to have on this team going forward. A very solid draft choice by George Paton.
MHR - It’s no secret who the best weapons are for the Chiefs offense, and Denver has often stymied them even if not being able to beat them. Is this version of the Denver defense even better equipped to handle Mahomes, Kelce, and the stable of WRs they’ll trot out there? Alex Singleton and Josey Jewell have become a pretty good ILB pair out there - can they stop Kelce?
DailyDose: I am very pleasantly surprised with what Singleton and Jewell have been doing this season. And I might even say more so about Singleton. Maybe not necessarily because he’s playing better but more because he is playing well above his $1.1 million, one-year contract. The dude was a UDFA and has been doing a lot of bouncing around, but during a year of nothing but disappointment on a pretty comparatively cheap contract, the dude still shows up and plays. No business decisions. All that said, Kelce is the best tight end in the league. And Mahomes just makes him annoyingly better because Mahomes properly utilizes Kelce’s immense talents. We’ve seen Singleton and Jewell get beat by lesser TEs. But that’s the nature of the NFL; the offense has the advantage because they already know where they’re going. Anyway, without proper pass rush and run defense, Kelce is likely to feast. And where Kelce and Mahomes do their most damage is typically when the Chiefs are down and it’s under 2 minutes to go. So far, our defense seems to be crumbling lately in crunch time.
MHR - Isaiah Pacheco has been a solid replacement since Clyde Edwards-Helaire went out and now the Chiefs have Melvin Gordon, who can do some damage as long as he holds onto the ball. What do you expect from the Chiefs’ run game this weekend and is that a weakness the Broncos' run defense can exploit?
DailyDose: This is an interesting question. For the 2022 season, the Chiefs have passed on 62.5% of their offensive plays, which ranks sixth in the NFL. But that number is definitely affected by the last four weeks, since Isiah Pacheco started taking serious snaps. In the last three weeks, the Chiefs have only passed 56.4% of the time. And last week it was as low as 53.7%. Meaning the Chiefs have geared up for the winter season. In the last three weeks, Pacheco is averaging 4.8 yards per carry - which is nothing to scoff at. The Broncos are middle of the pack in rushing yards allowed per game at 120.1. That’s more of a testament to the team than we realize seeing as how the offense can’t stay on the field for very long. But they do get gashed for big plays here and there. My expectation is that Melvin Gordon will be a complete non-factor because Andy Reid is a good coach. I expect Pacheco to be obnoxious, but the guy I really worry about is Jerick McKinnon. The dude is just a solid vet. Knows how to play the game. I know we slowed down the Titans and technically the Ravens, but I wouldn’t be surprised if just being afraid of what Mahomes can do opens up running lanes.
The Denver #Broncos have the 4th highest blitz rate of any team in the NFL this season at 34.6%— Nick Kendell (@NickKendellMHH) December 9, 2022
Blitzing Mahomes is a death wish https://t.co/y0aT9z8KpA
MHR - If you were the Broncos defense last week, and you held the Ravens to three points until the final two minutes of the game when you let them drive 90 yards for a score at the very end while your offense failed to get ANY touchdowns or barely stay on the field in the 4th quarter…how would you be feeling heading into the Chiefs game? How do you stay focused on your job as a defense and not get too depressed over such an abysmal counterpart?
DailyDose: I played defense in high school, specifically safety and rover backer. We were a solid defense. And there were weeks where we walked away from a game having held the opposing team to single digits but still lost. I know I personally got frustrated with the offense (specifically the QB) during the game. And it was hard to not be frustrated even the day after. The calm eventually sets in… until you watch tape and relive the horror. I don’t know if my experience is really that relatable, but the thing that ate at me was the knowledge that this is my only chance and time to do this. To play this game I love. I’m sure some of the Broncos players treat it as just a job, but there’s definitely players who see it exactly that way. They are told at the beginning of their careers during initiation that many of them will not be on the team in five years and may not even be in the NFL anymore. And most careers don’t last much longer after you cross the 30-year-old threshold. I honestly don’t know how (or if) any of the Broncos defenders are not holding onto grudges right now knowing they have a limited window. But I do know that, even though they held the Ravens to 10, they still took that final TD to seal the game personally. That they still are likely down on themselves. Defense is definitely the prideful side of football and seeing how much they work week in and week out, I’m convinced they are licking their chops and are gonna be mentally ready no matter what the offense does or (more likely) doesn’t do. Cuz it’s all about pride.
MHR - Andy Reid v. Nathaniel Hackett. If you were comparing those two to board games, which one do you assign each?
DailyDose: Andy Reid - IDK if it can be considered a board game - but when I see Andy Reid, I see Wooly Willy. All he needs to do is put on the red nose and BOOM! Guess he’d need to also ditch the mustache. Or I can just draw it on. That makes it a board game, right?
Nathaniel Hackett: Operation. He’s been doing a lot of dissecting but keeps hitting the edges. At some point, you just toss the game after getting buzzed so many times.
MHR - Even Bryce Perkins and a pretty bad Rams offense scored a touchdown against the Chiefs. Is it possible for the Broncos to manage at least one on Sunday…the first in weeks?
DailyDose: *looks at injury report and WRs and sees only Jeudy likely to play* *checks starting QB* …Probably not … but I believe Wilson will run one in.
MHR - It was nice to see Klint Kubiak use a lot more play action and boot offense last week, but there were still the terrible third down calls (like run up the middle on 3rd-and-5 where it just feels like they are playing to punt). If there’s any hope for this offense making some noise against a mediocre Chiefs defense, how do they do it? Is Greg Dulcich a secret weapon again?
DailyDose: Yes. Greg is the answer. I know we (and I am guilty of this) wonder aloud why he isn’t targeted more, but defenses do change their schemes based on who’s getting targeted. We did see a little success with bootlegs and play action, but those plays have intended targets, and the only success we saw with them was really with Dulcich. RW turning his back to the play and then turning around to scan the field is definitely not ideal seeing as how he doesn’t really have time, can hardly see over the line, and already seems to struggle with scanning the field when in shotgun. They’re designed plays. If you take away Dulcich (the likely intended target) then you’re essentially throwing away plays which… honestly that seems like the case no matter what. So I get it. But we all here, having enjoyed the Shanny era, understand bootleg and play action is a product of a successful run game. We don’t really have that either. If Denver could run the ball with command, this can be a very different game.
MHR - Obviously, the offense has been bad - and there are so many reasons for that. But injuries have certainly played a big role. This week Russ will maybe have Jerry Jeudy as the only starter in the WR room plus a handful of undrafted and late-round players. The lone remaining starter on the offensive line - Dalton Risner - has missed the last two practices for a shoulder/back injury so Denver could be scraping for another backup backup backup o-lineman. Despite the other struggles, if the team had a roster of mostly starters, is the record any different?
DailyDose: Absolutely. Too many one-score games. Too many 3-and-outs giving the ball back. Too much wearing out the defense. Just a few more first downs probably changes the outcome of a few games. Whether that be closing out games or getting closer for game-winning FGs.
Final injury report ahead of #KCvsDEN:— Denver Broncos (@Broncos) December 9, 2022
» https://t.co/o9BNo1w4Gk pic.twitter.com/HzHNEv9LAT
MHR - I’ve listened to a bunch of analysts, read a bunch of reviews, and the feeling still seems mixed on whether the problem is just Russ Wilson declining or the system not being good for him or the playcalls (even with Kubiak) still being headscratchers occasionally. What do you think is the main problem to be addressed - either immediately or definitely in the offseason?
DailyDose: When George Paton traded for RW, I was ecstatic. I had always seen him as a top 5 QB. And I thought that because of his situational smarts. He ran the ball when he needed to and he did it for only however much he could. Got the first and ran out of bounds. Never took unnecessary shots. Watching him now, he is not the scrambler he once was, which is a massive piece for his game to be successful. I hear the argument that it’s just unfathomable for someone to fall off a cliff like that. But that’s actually quite fathomable when it’s your legs. I was a sprinter. Went to state for track in Colorado for 200m (and some relays). That speed definitely began to leave me at 30. By 34, my knees just couldn’t do it anymore, and that dropoff between 33 and 34 was quite significant. I play a lot of ultimate frisbee and was/am still half decent at throwing, but I couldn’t/can’t keep up with the speedsters anymore. RW might throw a mean deep ball, but his game was heavily dependent on his legs. I don’t think we realized just how necessary that tool was until this year. Without an OL, he’s pretty much toast. I just don’t think there’s any play calls or scheme changes you can make to help him at this point. I mean, come on, when Peyton hurt his foot, his game dropped off a cliff. Manning…the guy who doesn’t scramble.
MHR - I’m not sure how “old” of a fan you are, but in your years as a Broncos fan, how does this compare for “among the worst” because surely this is among the worst ;) What is your advice to Broncos fans for the remaining five games?
DailyDose: Watching massive offensive ineptitude week in and week out is definitely painful. Especially when you think about how being bad is benefitting only Seattle. Then you think about how much Wilson is getting paid and how financially crippling that is and is going to be… But somehow, despite being the worst offense I have ever seen (of any NFL team), I might still say 2017 - where Denver swapped between Siemian, Paxton, and Brock - was worse. Cuz nothing about that team was good. Nothing. And we all got pretty heated on MHR (we’re passionate fans, I don’t hold that against anyone). That was just an absolutely miserable season. Josh McDaniels’ final year wasn’t much fun either. But I still think 2017 takes the cake. My advice for fans? Don’t watch games with any expectations at this point. Lower expectations and you can’t be disappointed… That’s probably what hurts the most. Such high and lofty expectations. And they’ve all been dashed.
MHR - I’m going to this game (call me crazy) and I’ll be cheering as loud as I can. What do you think of the message earlier this week by a local radio host asking fans to boycott the game and sell their tickets to Chiefs fans. Is that blasphemy? Or is that a good way to get the new owners’ attention? (*also, predict how much vodka I might need to make it through the game!)
DailyDose: I was planning on going to the game as well, but I suspected they were going to flex it, so I decided against making plans. But boycotting the game? And more specifically selling to the enemy? That’s dumb. What message needs to be sent? That they’re losing and we’re upset? They know that. Last thing we need to do is tell the rest of the league we’re bad fans.
MHR - According to an SBNation survey of fans, only 7% of Broncos Country has confidence the team is headed in the right direction. Where do you stand on that? If injured players are back, is this team ok? Does Hackett need to go in order to move forward? Does George Paton need to go?
DailyDose: Russ’ contract kills my confidence. What he’s doing compared to what he’s getting paid (and is about to get paid) are not remotely equal, injuries be damned. You pay someone that much money because they raise all boats. He is clearly dependent on there being talent around him. Granted, Peyton nor Elway could throw TDs whilst on their backsides, but RW is not back there with 0 time. He’s missing a lot of open throws. That 7% has got to be some Raiders fan (or divisional rival fans) - cuz from their perspective, they’re confident. Personnel solutions… I keep Paton for multiple reasons. 1) You won’t get an actually good GM willing to take on the Broncos’ cap issue and jeopardize their own professional fate. You’ll just get someone who just wants to get paid the millions the position pays. 2) His 2 drafts are already better than the 5 before put together. 3) His FAs are technically better than the 5 years before put together. In regards to Hackett… I’m not sure I care. We may as well fire him and bring in someone else just to see what happens, but I think that faces a similar issue to that of firing Paton….where the next coach is just taking the paycheck.
“I just wish I could hear that laugh one more time” -@VonMiller— Broncos TV (@BroncosTV) December 8, 2022
“Demaryius Thomas: The Heart of a Legend”
Airs this Saturday at 5pm MT on the #Broncos YouTube channel. #BroncosCountry pic.twitter.com/3WKXXutBmu
MHR - Demaryius Thomas died a year ago on Dec. 9. Such a big loss to this world. What did DT mean to you as a Broncos fan, much less the team/community in Denver?
DailyDose: Having DT on the Broncos was a tremendous pleasure and honor. I loved being able to root for someone I actually liked and for someone worthy of my (our) respect. His work in the community and his professionalism and attitude towards his teammates is the exact type of person and player I want my children to look up to and strive to be like. A true role model. It was an absolute shock when he passed. A massive blow. He will be missed by so many. Thank you, Demaryius Thomas, for what you did for so many people. RIP.
*Side note: I actually got in contact with Popsocket last year to create #88 Popsockets and all monies would be donated to a charity of Broncos Country choosing - either to a Colorado foundation for researching seizures or to a foundation that gives children gifts for Christmas (something DT was involved in). Would love feedback from MHR.
Stats for RUSSELL “LET’S RIDE it out” WILSON? 176 yards passing and 17 yards rushing, 0 Passing TDs, 1 Rushing TD
Stats for each Broncos RB? 46 yards for Murray and 23 for whoever the other guy is
Number of yards receiving/TDs for the receivers? 0
Longest FG for McManus? 44
Number of sacks to Patrick Mahomes? 1
Number of times Mahomes barely misses getting sacked? Eh - it’s Mahomes - 5
Broncos player with the most tackles? Singleton
Who gets the first sack of the game for the Broncos? Browning
Who gets the most sacks? Browning
How many INTs/FF/FR for the Chiefs D? 0 unfortunately - no reason to take risks when the opposing offense isn’t a threat
How many penalties between the two teams? 17
Final Score? 30 - 16, Chiefs
Bringing an AFC West matchup home to #BroncosCountry this weekend.— Broncos Podcast Network (@BroncosPodcasts) December 9, 2022
On #TheNeutralZone, @AricDiLalla and @philmilani debate what a win over the Chiefs would mean.
» https://t.co/QEaRLgRoDn pic.twitter.com/FihrSiBBmr
Favorite Broncos win ever? “This one’s for John!!!”
Favorite Peyton Manning win? 7 TDs on opening night against the Super Bowl Champs Ravens
Favorite John Elway win? ^^
Favorite win over the Chiefs (even though a long time ago)? When Roby scooped and scored to close out the game in 2015 (and I just realized that’s the last time they beat them - is that considered recency bias?)
Team you love to beat the most in the AFC West? The Chiefs… cuz my gf is from KC and is a “Chiefs fan”
Coach you despise most in the NFL? The answer is probably supposed to be McDaniels…but I think I hated Urban Meyer more - for no real Broncos reason other than that guy is just sleeze personified.
Team you hate to lose to the most in the rest of the AFC (outside AFC West)? The COLTS!!!!!!!!!!!!! There’s just so much PTSD with that stupid team.
NFC team you could cheer for in the Super Bowl? Vikings or 49ers (yeah yeah - 49ers 1st round pick)
NFC team you’d want to face more than any other in the Super Bowl? Cowboys - Cuz Cowboys and Broncos
Toughest game left on the schedule? Both Chiefs games
Favorite Broncos player on the current roster? Tim Patrick
Favorite Broncos player of all time not named John Elway? Terrell Davis and Von Miller
Favorite new guy/rookie on the team? Greg Dulcich
Food/Snack you have to eat on game day? Pizza
Favorite game analyst/commentator? Dave Logan - I like to play his DT walk-off TD against Pittsburgh on occasion
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? I’d definitely talk about Terrell Davis, Rod Smith, and Tom Nalen - the big contributors to our first SB win.
How did you become a Broncos fan?
When the Broncos won their first SB, I was a kid and I remember we had gone over to a big get together for the game. It was just so much fun cheering and celebrating with other fans that night as the Broncos won a gut clenching victory that was just so immensely emotional. It was beautiful. And it was topped by Pat Bowlen saying the most perfect of words, “This one’s for John.” T’was the beginning of my Broncos obsession. I was a fan beforehand, don’t get me wrong. My dad and I treated Monday night football as a holiday and we’d get pizza and watch together. Always a super treat when Broncos were playing Monday night. Always remember that with my dad. But the Super Bowl party and victory was just so captivating. It changed me. Lol. (*editor’s note: it changed ALL of us!)