As usual, this is the post that feeds the soul. No matter what is wrong with the Broncos on the field - and there is A LOT that is wrong - the UFG delivers Every. Single. Time.
This week’s UFGer needs no introduction as drtacp is a regular commenter and has much to contribute. Today’s post is no exception. And somehow I just learned that he is a converted Chiefs fan, so sticking with the Broncos these past few years and not jumping back on the Chiefs bandwagon takes some real fortitude. A true ultimate fan!
I’m pretty disgusted with the team at the moment but I look forward to publishing this post every week because it always makes me far more positive about the potential. Even against great odds.
Mile High Salute to all the UFGers for keeping us here for Week 13 when our team is 3-8!
Week 13: Broncos at Ravens
MHR - Last week’s loss was the first time that I can remember turning off the game midway through to voluntarily go do something else. How much more of this season can we take?
drtacp: Good point. I was not sure that I was going to bring that up. For preseason and the London game I relied upon KOA affilliate KBPL out of Colorado Springs for coverage. I work Sundays and take a television to work. I have permission to take a three-hour lunch to watch my Broncos game. If not locally televised, there is a BWW just three blocks from my place of work.
This past week I was off work Sunday for the holiday weekend. My son and I met up with a few old Broncos fans at a local bar. One friend tabbed out in the first half preparing to leave. He changed his mind and ordered a meal. He was still there when my son and I left right after Carolina threw deep to make Tim Lynch write this “1:23 p.m. - Carolina found a big play against Pat Surtain with DJ Moore catching a 52-yard bomb from Sam Darnold to set the Panthers up inside the Broncos’ 10-yard line. The Broncos’ defense would hold from there to force a field goal, but Carolina is up 20-3.”
I knew that game was a loss so I did not shift to KBPL coverage of the game, but I still have hope that something—anything—will click this week...or next. Part of that hope and optimism is knowing that I had to answer the UFG questions you would pose. Great start by the way!
MHR - Which unit on the Broncos is more “on the hot seat” this week to play well - the league’s lowest-scoring offense or a run defense that has allowed two teams the past two weeks in a row to run all over it?
drtacp: This Q is so in the wheelhouse of the A that I want to give. The run D was stellar against the Titans, so there is that. Denver run D vs. Las Vegas has been a totally opposite outcome. So our run D has performed, but they’ve just been up and down. Our O has come up short every time.
Even the wins declared that the offense coulda, shoulda, woulda been better if: the o-line had blocked better, or Russ made better reads and decisions, or a running back did not fumble within three yards of the goal line, or we weren’t the most penalized team in the league, or the wide receivers caught the ball when it was in their hands, or the play call got to Russ 10 seconds earlier, or that the actual play call had better than a 50% chance of being successful, or that Russ had thrown 1 more accurate football per game, or that the team scored at least 18 points every game. (*editor’s note: the number of “ors” in this answer has me laughing so hard…and crying!)
I do not think that this list is exhaustive even if it is exhausting. Also I consider that if the run D is flagging, then the root cause is that they are demoralized from having kicked ass and performed while being paired with the worst offense in the NFL; their effort has all been for naught.
Mike Purcell became a fan favorite by answering this very question. Also consider the higher stress factor on the run D that they have been given by the offense’s putrid point production.
MHR - Speaking of the lowest scoring offense, an ex-NFL QB JT Sullivan analyzed the tape and he’s putting most of the problem on Russell Wilson - but also called offense generally a “disaster sandwich.” What can be done in the short term (i.e., the next two days or at least the next six weeks) to fix this disaster sandwich?
drtacp: This is another point that I am eager to address. I like “disaster sandwich”. I have seen many versions of who is to blame for the Broncos 2022 disaster sandwich, aka sandwitch. The original version is that the problem is layered, but there is a primary blame assigned to Dange-Russ. I read a link to Sullivan’s article and found it informative but not conclusive. It is probably a better viewpoint than most. The true accounting is more likely due to the amount of injuries to offensive skill players.
The sandwich version questions responsibility and looks for a root cause. I really cannot ignore the beyond decimation-level of injuries to the Broncos for the past 6 seasons as being close to being the root cause. I think the tackle-bros win this version. As goes the o-line, so goes the offense. Count me in that number when the Broncos go marching in.
Finally there is the sandwitch version. These involve personal attacks on Denver Broncos coaches, players and even the GM. I have been impressed with George Paton at every turn. This has not changed this year. There is much to be said for loyalty, especially when it has been earned and is deserved.
Hackett has been saddled with a subpar offensive line that is gasping for any NFL level credibility after so many injuries to starters and backups and even third stringers. His level of neophyte just overwhelms Bronco fans. He is a much better person than McDaniels, but he may be merely on par with Joseph in the HC department.
Russell Wilson is getting the worst treatment from media (dare I call them press?) that I have ever seen for a law abiding active NFL player. I think that this media driven age has whirled many fans into a witch hunt frenzy as I have never seen before. The signs were there from Seattle letting Wilson go, to the Pete Carroll tiffs with Wilson, but Paton and fans did not fathom the level of mollycodling that Wilson demanded and probably needs in order to perform at a high level that he displayed in his younger years.
As for fixing this quagmire before we face off against Baltimore I am at a loss. The Penner group is also at a loss. I propose that fans put on their gameface and think positive that the little things that haven’t clicked so far this season finally will click in our favor. For some this may be merely Pollyannish thinking: that this is the best of all worlds. For me it is not, most definitely not. This is Pygmalion thinking.
I read a great book delving into the concept of self-fullfilling prophecy. Winners win. They win because it has become a self-fullfilling prophecy that they can control. If the DEN players are able to ignore the fandom pessimism, which I truly doubt, then so be it. How much better will it be for us all to recall the nearly universal fanbase optimism we had before the regular season started.
For long term we should obtain the best strength and conditioning group of trainers in the entire NFL. I sometimes have good ideas and I think this is one of my best. Of course Paton drafting/free agent signing viable o-line personnel is next on the list for long term success.
The truth about the #Broncos?— Zack Kelberman (@KelbermanNFL) November 28, 2022
Russ is a problem.
The coaching is a problem.
The offensive line is a problem.
The running game is a problem.
The receivers are a problem.
The injuries are a problem.
And the blame is not either-or but rather accept-all.
MHR - How did you feel overall about Klint Kubiak’s playcalling last week against the Panthers? I wrote a post on Tuesday highlighting the fact that it was impossible to watch the offense and know its “identity.” Do you agree? What should the offensive identity be of this team?
drtacp: I did not consider that until I read your article. I have to agree with your assessment though. That looked like checkmarks of random plays that worked in practice against our defense. Quite random and did not work against our opponents defense. I do not yet fathom what our winning identity is and that may be the coaches’ problem too. I follow the physicist’s lead in saying every glass is full: “Some are half full of liquid and half full of air.” I want my team to be identified as the most improved team in the league ever. All it would take is for a few “coulda, woulda, shouldas” to turn into “can do, did, and will do again.”
MHR - Sadly, the big story this week was Russ Wilson and whether he has lost the locker room. And that narrative became the focal point of national stories. Are the Broncos just a meme now? Is there a chance at saving our season?
drtacp: Media once again inflates truth to the level of sensationalism that garners attention and leads to this apostasy of our fans and to DEN becoming a laughingstock of the sports world. Sorry if I step on your toes in my analysis. I read the sensationalism and disagreed on their conclusions. I still have faith in both Penner and Paton. Bowlen would have already fixed the injury situation and we would not be in this mess. P&P inherited this debacle and will soon remedy. I refuse to accept that we are merely a losing meme so shortly removed from having an NFL best offense and so soon after having an NFL best defense that won us a Superb Owl. The fix as stated before is us having a healthy o-line, healthy skill players and all with winning mindsets.
Let me introduce you to what I call Rogers’ rule: All that a Big Wheel needs is a good spokesperson to give them a good spin.
Samuel Robson Walton can afford that.
MHR - Back to some actual football. The Ravens defense is no joke, led by their linebackers and defensive backs - which does not bode well for our already low-scoring offense. What is our best approach to get some scoring - lean on the sometimes OK run game? Try to resurrect the quick passing game? Utilize TEs? Hell, try the Wildcat? Does this offense have even a chance?
drtacp: “The Ravens defense is no joke...” but then neither is ours. The Baltimore offense has a similar problem that we have in that the offense is complex and difficult to quickly communicate before the mic is cut. I think our defense can make hay of that. If our offense would hone in on just 10 plays and few variations that work well (not my idea originally, but it is worth supporting…shout out to the originator of this idea!) then Denver has a fighting chance.
I read an article long ago that PFM in Indy used a small set of plays. The playset was so small that the opposing defense often knew exactly what was coming and yet the offensive efficiency was so great that it was not overcome, time and time again. Sadly I have seen some of the DEN play calls that worked beautifully never to be called again. Oooof! We are best relying on Sutton, Murray and Dulcich imo. The wideouts behind Sutton and Hinton would still be on practice squads everywhere else. Decimation literally means 10% depleted.
The DEN o-line was double that upon the first o-line personnel loss of the season. Maybe coaches should think toward six big uglies and four skill players. The loss of a way down the depth chart skill player is not going to affect the outcome nearly as much as the way the BAL defense lines up vs. us having a beefed o-line. Once again, o-line trumps skill players.
MHR - I’m going to assume that part of your answer above touched on the fact that the Broncos’ offensive line couldn’t stand up to a gust of wind, much less a stout D-line. And news came out this week that Dalton Risner hasn’t been approached about a contract extension - which may not surprise many fans who have watched his decline the past two seasons. But there are a lot of holes to fix even if injuries weren’t taking a toll. Is that Priority No. 1 in the offseason? How best to address it?
drtacp: I will be very disappointed (confer with Zorg in the Fifth Element when he finds that there are no stones in the box) if the need for o-line is not addressed multiple times, as in pre-draft, draft and post-draft. I do not think we have any NFL level RT’s under contract for next season. Oooof!
Bowles and Meinerz fill their positions well. Question is: of which can we get a better center or RG in the draft or free agency that will decide which position Quinn M. will play. Risner gone. Glasgow overpaid/gone. All teams suffer at finding good o-linemen and serviceable ones are retained way above their real worth. This is THE hardest task facing P&P and is PRIORITY #2.
In my opinion the easier and priority #1 task is obtaining world-class strength and conditioning trainers. If that had already been obtained, we would still have Bolles and Flemming for this entire season.
“We’ve just been able to play really fast beside each other and [play] really decisive football.”— Denver Broncos (@Broncos) December 3, 2022
The Outlaw @josey_jewell joined #LetsDrive this week to talk working alongside @alexsingleton49, his #MyCauseMyCleats & more: pic.twitter.com/ex0c4Cc9K7
MHR - While the Broncos’ defense continues to be among the leaders in certain categories, it has also spent two weeks in a row getting worn down by strong rushers. Between Lamar Jackson and a stable of running backs, what is your prediction for the Denver run defense this week? Can it bounce back from the Josh Jacobs and D’Onta Freeman lashings to stop Jackson, Gus Edwards and whoever else holds the ball and runs? How much of the defense’s success will depend on the offense being able to stay on the field and sustain a drive?
drtacp: Jackson is truly a wonderkind such that some coaches have given him the highest accolades as being the best running QB ever. Lamar’s willingness to use his talent to elevate his team will lead to his detriment. Just as Kordell Stewart, Michael Vick, RGIII, Cam Newton and possibly even Russell Wilson have done. It won’t happen this week when Lamar Jackson faces the Broncos though. I have seen that when Josey Jewel has been healthy he wears the green dot helmet and plays 100% of the defensive snaps. But he is slightly outperformed by Alex Singleton in total tackles this season, so putting JJ47 as the LJ8 spy is a no brainer imo. Let the rest of our vaunted D do what they do. Mike Purcell is up for this game I guarantee.
MHR - The Ravens receiving offense is mostly the Lamar Jackson Mark Andrews Show, but that’s been enough to get seven wins and be atop the AFC North. Broncos struggled in the pass rush last week as well as the run D, so does this all lead to a perfect storm that spells disaster for the Broncos?
drtacp: The entire Bronco season has been one slow moving perfect storm to our detriment. I predict that it is finally time for that storm to end. If I had any say so I would have Singleton focus on MA89 while positioning PSII to also cover Andrews whenever he is on the field in order to give PSII a chance to get his mojo back. I know that is a lot of man coverage but it is doable because we have gotten past growing pains for Mathis and we all are really glad to have PJ Locke. Bonitto still has growing pains though. Cannot count on it but Bonitto could elevate his pass rush play closer to achieving his potential in this game vs. the Ravens.
MHR - We haven’t talked about special teams in a while - and that’s mostly good - but after kind of a hot start on special teams that fizzled, do you think we have a good foundation to build on? What do you think of McManus? He’s been so good for us, but is he getting a little cocky about his ability for his own good?
drtacp: Winners want to be in control of the ball when their number is called. I cannot fault him for last season when being denied and being sore about it. He was, for very good reason, one of the first to join in on the castigation of the NFL owners for providing NFL players so many turf fields and yet their immediate acquiescence to the international soccer team’s demands for grass playing surfaces when they come to the USA to play soccer in NFL stadiums. I have so rooted for Montrell Washington (No.12), but he does not really seem to have ‘it’. Obviously Special Teams ain’t there yet, but they are closer. (Rufus in Bill And Ted’s Excellent Adventure: “They do get better.”) Bottom line is that DEN has so many other fires to put out that special teams improvement is always welcome but should be put on the back burner for now imo.
MHR - What are your thoughts on the head coach and his ability to lead this team, to keep players disciplined, and put together a decent game plan. What would you like to see happen next year - do you give Hackett a second try or fire his ass the minute it becomes Black Monday? If Hackett is fired, who would be some of your early interests for a new coach?
drtacp: If Hackett was competent at all, the penalties would have dropped week 2 and evermore. That is enough for me. I will now rail on the early insurrection of Broncos fandom that dismissed Hackett for not using starters in Pre-season. Obviously in retrospect, playing or not playing starters in Preseason did not even amount to a hill of beans (Except in Somalia, Yemen, Burundi, South Sudan and Syria). In retrospect both Hackett and Joseph inherited dumpster fires they could not control. Also in retrospect, not firing Joseph after year 1 was a big mistake. Penner group will not allow Paton to make the same mistake. Sean Payton is #1. I want to keep Eviro safe as our best D coordinator since Son Of Bum. I am not sure, but I have been told that draft picks to NO are no longer required after this season to obtain Payton as an HC. Open the checkbook Mr.Walton, please.
MHR - Following the Mike Purcell outburst toward Wilson on Sunday - and the ensuing PR binge to have Coach Hackett, Wilson and Purcell completely downplay it - there’s been a lot of talk about Wilson “losing the locker room” (to which Broncos PR immediately tried to squash by trotting out players to say that isn’t true) but HOW are players NOT frustrated with him right now? Wilson is playing bad football and getting paid big bucks. Hackett is trying to act like fighting for his job is just a normal day at the office…
drtacp: I have already addressed my perspective of the situation as being non-journalistic sensationalism. Frustration in the locker room has got to be tempered with their acknowledgement of us having way too many injuries, o-line inefficiencies and just knowing that Hackett is not ACTING as if he were fighting to keep his job. Fans who deny these truths are pissed that RW3 can remain positive through this shitstorm.
MHR - If Ciara invited you to Russ Wilson’s birthday party, would you go?
drtacp: Back to the physicist: “Half of the team showed up, the other half were already committed otherwise.” I would attend if I was invited after Dange-Russ had as many or more touchdown passes as he and Ciara have bathrooms in their $15M mansion (=12).
Stats for RUSSELL “LET’S RIDE it out” WILSON? 1 TD, 2 picks, 5 sacks 1 fumble
Stats for each Broncos RB? Murray = 98yds rush, 15 car, 1 TD rush, 17 yds rec, 2 rec, 1 TD rec,; Boone = 28 yds rush, 5 car, 0 TD; Mack = 12 yds, 3 car
Number of yards receiving/TDs for the receivers? Sutton = 80yds, 10 rec, 0; Dulcich = 53yds, 3 rec, 0; Hinton = 29yds, 2 rec
Longest FG for McManus? 49 at near sea level
Number of sacks to Lamar Jackson? 4
Broncos player with the most tackles? Singleton
Who gets the first sack of the game for the Broncos? Bonitto
Who gets the most sacks? Bonitto
How many INTs/FF/FR for the Broncos D? 2/2/1
How many times will TV announcers mention the Broncos-Ravens playoff game in 2012? Too many because it is still a nightmare.
Final Score? Broncos, 24-20
Favorite Broncos win ever? AFCCG vs. NE
Favorite Peyton Manning win? SB50
Favorite John Elway win? SB32
Favorite Russell Wilson meme? none
Team you love to beat the most in the AFC West? Chiefs
Coach you despise most in the NFL? McDaniels
Team you hate to lose to the most in the rest of the AFC (outside AFC West)? Used to be NE, now, BALTIMORE RAVENS
NFC team you could cheer for in the Super Bowl? PHI
NFC team you’d want to face more than any other in the Super Bowl? How about DET? It means that they finally got there!
Favorite game looking forward to this season? KC at our home
Toughest game left on the schedule? KC at their home
Favorite Broncos player on the current roster? Mike Purcell has risen but Justin Simmons reigns
Favorite Broncos player of all time not named John Elway? Von Miller (sorry PFM, but you are as funny as you are football smart)
Favorite new guy/rookie on the team? Mathis
Food/Snack you have to eat on game day? Crow
Favorite game analyst/commentator? Tony Romo now outshines Al Michaels
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 would just place a banner over Lynch and highlight ALL the rest as so deserving. I probably would not need to talk. I could just show NFL highlights.
How did you become a Broncos fan?
It has been documented on UFG that I made a conscious decision to resign as a Chiefs fan to join the Broncos beginning the season after their 4-12 record. I mentioned this resignation to a co-worker who has known me for 20 years. He told me this past week that my announcement of my quitting my Chiefs fandom was a supreme shock to every football fan in the building. That is somehow very satisfying to know.
Who’s changing their minds and going with a win after reading this?
This poll is closed
100 percent. Go BRONCOS!
Loved it, but still can’t see a win in Baltimore