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Ultimate Fan: Key to a win over the Niners will be not abandoning the run game

Against this 49ers defense, keeping heat off Russell Wilson will be crucial.

Houston Texans v Denver Broncos Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images

WooHoo, Broncos Country!

Denver is coming off a win - even as ugly as it was - and looking ahead to hopefully stealing another one at Mile High this weekend on Sunday Night Football and improving to 2-1.

I say “stealing” because our beloved but discombobulated team is an underdog at home this week following another mishmash performance last weekend.

But our UFG is 3-0 as per the usual, as rookie UFGer Uhmda Spicy hits another UFG post through the uprights. And as is so crucial for ultimate fans, he is going against the odds in Vegas and picking the Broncos to beat the Niners - just like I paid him to do! (kidding, I did no such thing)

But I am thrilled with the prediction, and like him, so ready to watch this team show some improvement in game management and decision-making. If it comes down to it, I say just let Russell Wilson do whatever he wants out there!

Here’s to Wilson and the offense getting better in the red zone while the defense does its best to keep the Niners out of it!

Week 3: Niners at Broncos

MHR - It’s getting a little old having Russ Wilson on this team and having to start my first question with “WTF happened last week?” But here we are. WTF happened last week? It was a win, but…
UhmdaSpicy: A win is always good. And there were a lot of good things that I saw in the game as far as individual play by Gregory, Sutton, Washington and Williams that really stood out for me. There were several factors that kept this game a bit frustrating for Broncos Country - injuries, continued Red Zone struggles, too many penalties, and a new head coach and QB still working out proper procedural processes.

On the defensive side, having Simmons out and losing PS2 didn’t allow the time needed for our formidable pash rush to be as effective as it could have been. But Gregory had a game! DJ caught my attention as well. Run defense could use improvement.

I know I was really expecting great things from this year’s offense. But it’s early in the season and Wilson seems to still be adjusting to a new head coach, scheme, and teammates. Losing Tim Patrick for the year and Jerry Jeudy going out early in the game didn’t make it any easier for the QB either. But boy did Sutton look good, and I really liked how they are trying to get Montrell Washington more touches. He stood out as well. Would like to see a bit more of a commitment to the run game because Williams and Gordon continue to play well.

They really need to improve the RZ offense, clean up the penalties and procedural problems. The positive is that all of these things are fixable and I do see the team continuing to improve as the season unfolds.

MHR - After the game and on Monday, Coach Hackett seemed oblivious to the level of ineptitude the offense was displaying and particularly his role in that. By Wednesday and Thursday he was telling reporters he sat down with GM George Paton and several other experienced game managers on the staff to figure out where/how he could improve in that area. Does that encourage you that he’s figuring this out and isn’t afraid to admit his flaws or do you think it shows he has no idea what he’s doing?
UhmdaSpicy: I am encouraged that Coach Hackett is looking to improve. Quite a difference from our previous head coach. He needs to improve his situational decisions and clean up the lines of communication. Get the plays in more quickly - and like a chess game - be more forward looking and anticipate a strategy based on possible outcomes.

MHR - On the other side of the field Sunday night will be the son of the man who was one of the greatest coaches in Broncos history (you may possibly agree the greatest), and Kyle told the Denver media this week that it’s an adjustment becoming head coach - something he learned and appears to be well on his way to following in his dad’s footsteps. How much leeway should Broncos Country give Coach Hackett in terms of making some mistakes but learning his new role? Are we capable of that? ;)
UhmdaSpicy: Coach Mike is the greatest in my eyes and why we couldn’t get Kyle when he was available is mind boggling to me. But I do feel that Hackett needs more time to grow into his head coaching role. He is already openly taking steps to do just that. I think he will sort it out and we will be humming sooner than later.

MHR - OK, enough of the coaching issues; he’s working on it and we’re counting on it…on to Russell Wilson and the offense! Wilson struggled a good bit of the game last week before getting into some rhythm in the second half and particularly the 4th quarter. Yet the Broncos offense still has some red zone woes - 0 touchdowns in six trips to the RZ. But when asked about it, Wilson turned around and spoke about the positive…ACTUALLY GETTING INTO the red zone and having some key 3rd and 4th down plays. Do you like Wilson’s reframe there or do you want to see some urgency to fix the lack of red zone scoring?
UhmdaSpicy: I really love Wilson as the Broncos QB. He is always positive but I am not exactly happy about his comments in the sense that it comes off as deflective. I would like him to take ownership of the struggles in the RZ and not be happy about it. It needs to be fixed as soon as possible if we are going to keep up with the high powered offenses in the AFC. It also really helps out our stout defense. Being No. 1 in the NFL in average length of drive is great, but coming away with just field goals is not going to get us in the playoffs.

MHR - Courtland Sutton had himself a DAY last Sunday, catching 7 passes for 122 yards. But Montrell Washingon, Tyrie Cleveland and Kendall Hinton also stepped up big time to catch some clutch passes. How confident are you in this receiving corps that doesn’t even have Tim Patrick for the year or Jerry Jeudy?
UhmdaSpicy: Sutton surely did, and it was great to see. I think losing Patrick for the season was a big blow to the receiving corps, particularly in the RZ. Sounds like Jeudy has a good chance to be back for this game, which will help spread the ball around more. Washington, Tyrie Cleveland, and Kendall Hinton did have some clutch catches and I hope they keep finding more chemistry with Wilson as the season progresses. We need them to continue to step it up.

MHR - The running game. Always the thing coaches say they want to establish, yet usually the part of the offense they abandon at the first obstacle ;) But how important will it be for the Broncos to stick with it and wear down a very good Niners’ defense (a defense, by the way, that is tops in the NFL - first in passing defense, second in rushing defense and third in points allowed)?
UhmdaSpicy: Indeed, the Niners have a formidable defense, the toughest we have faced all year. Their front 7 is one of the best if not the best in the NFL. It will be important to not abandon the run game to keep the heat of Wilson. And with Williams and Gordon being very effective, I don’t see any good reason not to stick to it.

MHR - Of all the strengths of the Niners’ defense, its defensive line and edge rushers seem the most formidable as they have pressured QBs on nearly half of their dropbacks (47%). What do Wilson and the Broncos offensive line need to do schematically to keep Joey Bosa & Co. from wreaking havoc? How will Russ’ familiarity with thi
UhmdaSpicy: It’s not going to be an easy task for sure. Sticking to the running game will be paramount. The screen game seems to be working well, maybe think about bubble screens for Washington and Hamler if he’s back. Misdirection plays as well. Keep the Niners defense on their toes.

MHR - Perhaps to Denver defense’s advantage, the Broncos are getting Jimmy Garoppolo at quarterback - a QB they know much more about than Trey Lance. But also one with perhaps more ability to do just what he needs to to score. What will be the key to preventing Jimmy G from slicing and dicing his way down the field to score?
UhmdaSpicy: I think I would have rather had us facing the Niners with Lance under center. While there is a lot more tape on Garoppolo, I believe he knows their system better having been there so long and having a lot of success. The key I believe will be getting good pressure on him and making sure Deebo Samuel and George Kittle are contained. It’s not going to be easy. Kyle is a great schemer as the apple didn’t fall far from the tree.

MHR - The defense is without Justin Simmons and possibly Dre’Mont Jones and even Pat Surtain on Sunday. Hopefully Josey Jewell is back, but despite injuries to key starters, Ejiro Evero has had this defense humming…especially behind the strength of the D-line. What kind of encore performance from this defense do you expect this week after its big showing against the Texans last week and even the Seahawks in Week 1? Especially against Kyle Shanahan’s outside zone rushing attack?
UhmdaSpicy: Will not be easy if they are all out. Not having Simmons is always tough, but it sounds like at least Jones and Jewell are likely to play and possibly PS2. They will have to stay disciplined and execute their assignments well. Hopefully the run defense and secondary will continue to improve. Continue to be stingy in RZ defense; they have been quite impressive there.

MHR - Randy Gregory has played like his hair is on fire the last two games - even with limited snaps. What do you think he brings to this defense and do you think the pass rush is getting back to where it needs to be with Gregory and Bradley Chubb?
UhmdaSpicy: Oh yeah, Gregory played last week like he was Michael Jackson in a Pepsi commercial. I do think that once he starts getting worked back into the game more, they will be formidable. He and Chubb can be a duo of destruction I believe.

MHR - George Kittle is likely to play this weekend. How does the Broncos’ defense ensure he is a non-factor in this game - unlike it did in 2018 when Kittle torched the defense to the tune of 210 yards and a TD - if it can?
UhmdaSpicy: I am not sure they will be able to shut him down, but hopefully they can contain him and limit yards after the catch. They will need to make sure they get him on the ground if he makes a catch.

MHR - What is the bigger threat to the Broncos’ success this weekend - Kyle Shanahan’s game planning, the Niners’ offense, the Niners’ No. 1 rated defense, Coach Hackett? Lol, I kid, I kid. But seriously, is the Niners’ offense going against our defense a bigger problem for us, or our offense up against their defense?
UhmdaSpicy: In my opinion it will be how our offense performs against a capable defense. If we can’t solve the RZ problems, it is going to be really difficult to walk away with a win. If the defense can still keep playing great RZ defense they will continue to give the offense a chance to come through for the win.


Stats for RUSSELL “LET’S RIDE” WILSON? 25/30/320/2 no interceptions

Stats for each Broncos RB? Williams: 22/115/; Gordon: 16/75/0

Number of yards receiving/TDs for all 187 receivers? Sutton 8/140/2; Jeudy 5/75/0; Hinton 2/25/0

Longest FG for McManus? 56

Number of sacks to Wilson? 3

Number of sacks to Jimmy G? 5

Broncos player with the most tackles? Jones

Who gets the first sack of the game for the Broncos? Chubb

Who gets the most sacks? Gregory

How many INTs/FF/FR for the Broncos D? 2/2/1

How many time outs will Coach Hackett waste? 1

How many times will the crowd count down the play clock for the offense? Too many

Final Score? 24 - 19 Broncos

The Favorites

Favorite John Elway win outside of the Super Bowls? The Drive

Team you love to beat the most in the AFC West? Raiders

Coach you laugh at the most in the NFL? Funny wise, current Mike McDaniel

Coach you most want to throw an egg at? That’s an easy one - Joshy boy

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, Giants, Commanders, or Seahawks would do

Favorite game looking forward to this season? Chiefs in Arrowhead

Easiest game left on the schedule? Jets

Toughest game left on the schedule? Chiefs in Arrowhead

Favorite Broncos player on the current roster? Sutton

Favorite Broncos player of all time not named John Elway? Another easy one - The Smiling Assassin

Favorite new guy/rookie on the team? Washington

Food/Snack you have to eat on game day? Shrimp cocktail recently

Favorite game analyst/commentator? Manning brothers

Which sports cliche best describes the Broncos? “Defense wins championships”

How you chose your MHR handle? The Spice must flow

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? All of them

How did you become a Broncos fan?

I was born in Denver but moved to Boise when I was 1. Denver and Boise are similar and both Broncos Country. The Pat Bowlen era was something to be so proud of - a classy organization that does it the right way while winning championships!