Well, it was a much more fun ride in 2023 than it was in 2022. Sadly, the Denver Broncos decided to gift their fans with an absolute turd sandwich on Christmas Eve.
That they lost to the New England Patriots says a lot about this team and just how good they are. The Patriots completely suck eggs this year. But credit to Bill Belichick…he runs a defense that will take away what you do best and it made the difference.
I honestly did my best to not let the game ruin my holiday and I hope all of you did the same. I’ve been saying it all season: this team needs a lot of work still. They really outdid themselves with some excellent defensive performances in the middle of the season that helped them achieve the bulk of their wins.
But getting turnovers constantly isn’t a sustainable plan in the NFL (at least not with a defensive roster as weak as this one is). At some point, things normalize and you need your offense to start working.
Well, the offense didn’t ever kick it up a gear. We’ve just been playing Wilson ball all year and as the weeks wore on it showed more and more chinks in the armor.
The team all year has been playing to have a solid run game with a completely average at best running back getting most of the carries. The theory is that that would in turn open up the play-action game for the big-armed Russell Wilson. But when you plod along for 2.2 yards per carry with your main guy, that plan doesn’t work.
What bugs me the most is that there was no attempt in either of the past two games to change things up. The plan was the plan and we were either going to sink or swim with it. That shows that Sean Payton isn’t willing to let his guys switch it up and doesn’t trust his backs enough.
But at the end of the game once again the playbook opened up and the offense came a bit online. But it was too little / too late.
Russell Wilson has made a solid argument to be let go this offseason. Not because he’s washed (he isn’t), but because he’s not fit for Sean Payton’s offense. If your coach isn’t willing to truly let the players play, then he needs a quarterback who is able to use the middle of the field, see routes coming open, and hit the players with timing to make his offense hum.
That’s never been Wilson. So the interesting thing to look at as the final two weeks play out will be what’s the future plan with Wilson? Will Payton find a way to move on and get “his guy” or are we going to try to get a team even more geared out to run an offense for Wilson and give it one more year?
Aside from Mike McGlinchey consistently disappointing on the right side, I thought the line did a fairly good job of blocking for Wilson. He had pockets he didn’t use well. He had what seemed like years back there on some plays and just couldn’t or wouldn’t pull the trigger. I think we have a good core for next year aside from needing an upgrade at RT.
Javonte Williams is not it. He hasn’t been it for many games in a row. He’s a plodder at running back who isn’t creating yards consistently enough with his power style of running. I honestly thought that after about 5 carries the team should have swapped in Samaje Perine.
I still like what I see from Jaleel McLaughlin, but he lacks the size to be the main guy carrying the rock. I think this offseason is going to be key for him to really get in prime shape for his next season in the NFL.
I don’t have much to say about our receivers. Losing Courtland Sutton took the wind out of the sails of this offense. That’s the only guy that Wilson seems to have a rapport with and that’s as much on Payton and Wilson as it is on the receivers. The offense kept wanting to throw to tight ends outside and the backs in the flat which let the Patriots hamstring the offense.
This defense has some serious problems tackling. I’m not sure if it isn’t being coached, but we’re consistently seeing guys fly in at bad angles for arm tackles that have very little chance of succeeding. It has been a constant issue this season that was covered up by turnovers.
I’m still a big fan of what this defense did as the season wore on. Vance Joseph did a stellar job without a lot of tools in the toolbox. To fix things this offseason we’ll need to swap out a lot of players on the front seven as we severely lack tackling proficiency and ability to cover in the middle of the field.
There was an absolutely huge lack of pass rush in this game. The Broncos don’t generate much without blitzing and for some reason, they were mostly allergic to the idea against a young and weak quarterback.
I’ve said it enough all season: Alex Singleton and Josey Jewell are not it. The former takes terrible angles and lacks lateral quickness in coverage. The latter lacks speed plain and simple. This team needs better ILBs and they have for years.
Ja’quan McMillian has been a fan favorite all year, but he got taken to the cleaners against the Pats. He was single-handedly responsible for practically a whole touchdown drive.
I will at least give a shout-out to Justin Simmons who was one of the only defenders I saw taking good angles and using proper tackling form on multiple plays. Maybe some of the players could look at his tape for an example of how to get better at their craft.
Marvin Mims, Jr. is a treasure as a returner plain and simple. I’m looking forward to this team finding more ways to get him involved next season.
Will Lutz missed a 57-yard field goal and I’m not a guy that is going to hold that against him. 57 yards is a long damned kick even at Mile High. There are many reasons the Broncos lost this game, I don’t count Lutz as being high on that list.
This game sucked, but I gotta say that I’m looking forward to this next season. We have a head coach that is getting this team online. We are either going to get a better roster for Russel Wilson or find another option that fits Sean Payton’s offense better. Either way is a step in the right direction.
We still get games against the Los Angeles Chargers and the Las Vegas Raiders. This team has already in my mind shown themselves to be a better product than anything I’ve cheered for in 7 years. On to the next game.