OK, got that out of the way so I can move on with the proper optimism necessary for the Ultimate Fan!
In fact, truth be told, if it weren’t that we lost to the Raiders - the team I truly hate the most in all the world - I would not have been terribly upset about the loss last week.
The lack of pressure on the quarterback was disappointing and Wil Lutz’s misses were infuriating, but the fact that the offense was relatively efficient gave me great hope. I saw a coach on the sideline who knew what he was doing, and players looked confident and prepared. Execution wasn’t perfect but I actually felt hope that this season will be an improvement on the road to relevance.
Then I looked at Twitter, rolled my eyes, tried to console fans and MHR colleagues and ultimately just moved on because everyone does fandom differently.
But our newest member to the UFG series - and the first of two ultimate fans for this week - is in line with my thinking, so I’m extra pumped to share this.
Washington is coming in with confidence and a fierce defensive line that will test every improvement the Broncos’ offense made last week. But it’s another day of football and that’s a pretty great thing.
Week 2: Commanders at Broncos
MHR - Ugh. Starting the season with a loss. Be honest - did you have a jaded “sky is falling” vibe after losing to the Raiders? Or did you see some improvement in the team’s play that can be built upon?
Brahncos: It was definitely a rough start to the season, but I haven’t hit the “sky is falling” panic button yet. Watching us lose to the Raiders always sucks but I did see some improvements from this team. Honestly, I think for the first time in a long time this team actually competed together. Even though they lost, for once they seemed mostly on the same page. I think this loss can be built upon but we definitely didn’t make it any easier on ourselves.
MHR - What did you think of Sean Payton’s play calling overall? Hind sight is always 20/20, so aside from the outcomes, did you like the aggressive stance at the beginning of the game with the onside kick? Would you have gone for a touchdown on 4th and goal in the second half instead of taking a field goal to only go up 6 points?
Brahncos: You bring up the onside kick so let’s start there. As you stated, hindsight is always 20/20. Had we come up with that onside kick, who knows what would’ve happened but a touchdown for the Raiders to open the game would’ve been much harder for them to accomplish had we just kicked it off. I think from the offensive side of the ball, the play-calling was definitely much better and I think fits Russ better. Unfortunately in the second half, he just stopped calling the plays that had worked in the first. I think both not going for it on that 4th down or the one on our own 32 were bad calls. You need to take one shot with those because at the end of the day, you’re playing at home and you want that first win of the season to start off on the right foot. My mentality is always play to win, not to lose so sometimes you have to be like Dan Campbell in the Chiefs game this season.
MHR - Russell Wilson was sharp, comfortable and effective passing the ball and running Payton’s offense. How did the offense’s performance make you feel about the potential (or not) of the offense this season?
Brahncos: I’ll say that first half made me think Broncos football was back. We looked phenomenal in that first half. I think Russ looked great because we finally put him in a position to succeed. I think over the past several years we’ve been running offenses not to our QB’s strength. I can’t be the only one to question getting rid of Rich Scangarello at the end of that 2019 season after he made Drew Lock look like the next coming of something great for the Broncos. I think Payton finally had Russ on the move and also made his internal clock process faster. Overall I feel optimistic about this offense but only time will tell if Russ and Sean can put up more than our dreaded 16 points.
MHR - Jerry Jeudy is expected to play this weekend, but Greg Dulcich is out. What will the addition of Jeudy bring to the game this weekend? What will the loss of Dulcich mean to the offense’s game plan; are the other 94 tight ends in the room able to pick up the slack left behind by Dulcich’s absence?
Brahncos: I think Jeudy brings a wide receiver who can separate extremely well from corners and who can help us spread the field a little more - and hopefully open up some deep shots to Sutton or Mims. Jeudy can be a deep threat receiver but we mainly use him for shorter - intermediate routes. I also hope this opens up the screen passing game more, I feel like too many times on third and short we have the ability to call screen plays and pickup a quick three-yard gain. Overall Jeudy is going to be a welcomed site, especially against a really good defense in the Commanders.
MHR - Speaking of that, the Commanders have an incredible defensive line and a very athletic defense overall. What would be your advice on the best offensive strategy against this group?
Brahncos: Honestly it’s gonna be a tough game on Sunday. It seemed like the running game may be an option as James Connor last week was eating up 4.1 yards per carry. I think the run game has to get going this week so the passing game can open up and also hopefully help Russ and the O-line keep a clean pocket. Second, we have to continue to put Russ on the move. We saw what he did to the Raiders last week when we put him on a play-action outside; he threw 2 TDs and looked solid overall. I think if we can do those two things well we might see some success on Sunday.
It's almost like Russell Wilson should have been rolling to the right all last season.— Doctor of Words (and tights) (@docllv) September 10, 2023
MHR - The running game last week wasn’t spectacular but it was effective and efficient. Do you expect to see a lot more of Javonte Williams, Jaleel McLaughlin and Samaje Perine on the field Sunday? What is your assessment of our run game overall and our running backs specifically?
Brahncos: I think we see more of both Williams and Perine as they looked pretty good on Sunday. I think McLaughlin got one snap and got blown up pretty good. Holistically, all three backs need to have a good game Sunday. Williams looked solid against the Raiders but I think he could’ve gotten more touches. Perine had a little bit of a rough start but got going by the end and had that really nice catch and run. I think Sean Payton said the run game is what he wants to do so let's see if they go and get it done.
MHR - What did you think of the Offensive Line’s performance last week? Russell Wilson gave them high praise. Do you think our OLine will be able to match pressure and skill of Washington’s very strong D-line?
Brahncos: They looked a lot better than I thought they would. I mean Russ had a pretty clean pocket outside of a few instances and had some actual time to throw the ball. This will definitely be a tough test against a Commanders’ D-line that boasts Jonathan Allen, Montez Sweat, Daron Payne and Chase Young. I think our O-line this year though is much better equipped to handle this upcoming D-line than last year. I’m really curious to see how our guys hold up inside and overall against a ferocious pass rush.
MHR - Despite blitzing 41% of the time last week (3rd most in the NFL), the Broncos’ ability to pressure the QB and/or sack him was among the worst. In your view, why didn’t the pressure work well against the Raiders?
Brahncos: It seemed like we ran a lot of 4-man rush sometimes adding a linebacker into the mix but I think our guys just got beat sadly. None of them looked like they could get past the Raiders blockers and that may just be a testament to the Raiders O-line of being a good unit. I think what we needed to see more of though is either on 3rd-and-long really sending the house and hoping the secondary can give those rushers some time, or send a safety in to give a delayed blitz and get to Jimmy G. Overall we just gave him way too much time, especially on third down. We’re going to have to get something going this week though against Washington.
MHR - Sam Howell was a fifth-round pick and is in just his second year in the pros. How should Vance Joseph rattle this guy with pressure? Protections?
Brahncos: SACK HIM!! Our guys have to get to the QB and put some pressure on him. He’s a young QB and overall has looked pretty poised so far in the NFL. We have to sack him, hit him, bump him a few times anything to get him off his center line and make him react quicker, make him take a wrong read. I think it’ll be interesting to watch how we attack him.
MHR - What is the biggest threat from Ron Rivera and his Washington Commanders this week?
Brahncos: I think it’s confidence. That team is coming in with a 1-0 record whereas we’re coming in off a loss. If I’m the Commanders, I’m feeling great coming into Denver and I think teams that have confidence have a much better chance. I also just think Rivera is a smart coach who’s going to come into Denver with a winning mentality, Riverboat Ron is not going to leave this game without trying to win. Hopefully, Payton and the Broncos can match that energy come Sunday.
MHR - Wil Lutz missed an extra point and field goal and the Broncos lost by one point. What should the punishment be at practice for Wil Lutz this week?
Brahncos: I think the punishment is knowing that he was one of the main reasons we lost the game last week and I hope he’s felt it from the fans. I’m not sure a punishment does him any good especially since he’s already at a low but I bet he’s been hearing the fans and probably feeling pretty terrible about his performance last Sunday. All we can hope for is that Wil as Ted Lasso would put it is a goldfish and takes that rancid performance, forgets about it and moves forward to hit some 50-yard bombs this week. If not, it might be time to call back Maher.
MHR - How would you feel about this team’s chances for the rest of the season if they lose on Sunday? What about when they win, how will you feel about the rest of the season?
Brahncos: If we lose Sunday it’s gonna be a rough year. Statistically, as we all know, most teams that start 0-2 do not make the playoffs. Also, after this game, we have to go to Miami where the Phins look pretty good. I think if we win, it puts us in a good spot even just from a mental perspective and gives our team some confidence heading into that tough game in Miami. I guess we’ll find out Sunday, but this is a game where if we want to compete this year we have to win.
MHR - Which ONE player has to be an MVP on Sunday for this game to end with a check in the W column?
Brahncos: This is a tough one but I think it has to be Damarri Mathis. He had a putrid game against the Raiders and made Jakobi Meyers look like a Pro Bowler. Against Terry McLaurin, Jahan Dotson and Curtis Samuel, our entire secondary has to play well but man, Mathis has got to step up after last week’s performance.
In Week 1, Damarri Mathis was targeted 9 times, and allowed 8 receptions for 95 yards, 7 conversions (first downs+touchdowns) and 2 TDs— Zach Segars (@Zach_Segars) September 11, 2023
Stats for RUSSELL WILSON? 25-32, 241 YDS, 2 TDs, 25 YDS rushing
Stats for each Broncos RB? Javontae William 101 YDS 1 TD Samaje Perine 20 YDS Rushing 30 YDS Receiving Jaleel McLaughlin 10 YDS Receiving
Number of yards receiving/TDs for the receivers? Jerry Jeudy 84 YDS 1 TD, Cortland Sutton 60 YDS 1 TD, Marvin Mims 52 YDS, Lil’ Jordan Humphry 45 YDS
How many XPs does Lutz make this week? 3
Number of sacks to Sam Howell? 4 sacks
Broncos player with the most tackles? Alex Singleton - 10 tackles
Who gets the first sack of the game for the Broncos? Randy Gregory
Who gets the most sacks? Zach Allen
How many INTs/FF/FR for the Commanders D? 0
How many INTs/FF/FR for the Broncos D? 2
How many penalties between the two teams? 10
How many Broncos fans will be wearing Sean Payton visors to the game? Half
Final Score? 24-20 Broncos
Favorite Broncos win ever? 2011 AFC Wild Card Game - Tebow to DT in OT
Favorite Peyton Manning win? Beat Cowboys 51-48 in 2013
Favorite John Elway win? Super Bowl 32 win vs the Packers
Team you love to beat the most in the AFC West? Raiders
Coach you despise most in the NFL? Bill Belichik
Team you hate to lose to the most in the rest of the AFC (outside AFC West)? Browns
NFC team you could cheer for in the Super Bowl? 49ers
NFC team you’d want to face more than any other in the Super Bowl? Seattle Seahawks
Toughest game on the schedule? Week 6 at the Chiefs
Favorite Broncos player on the current roster? Pat Surtain II (PS2)
Favorite Broncos player of all time not named John Elway? Von Miller
Favorite Broncos Hall-of-Famer? Champ Bailey
Favorite new guy/rookie on the team? Jaleel McLaughlin
Food/Snack you have to eat on game day? Wings
Favorite game analyst/commentator? Jim Nantz
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? Rod Smith
Give me one word/phrase/cliche to describe your hope for this season? Realisitc
The Broncos will celebrate Super Bowl XXXIII champs on Sunday. What is your favorite play from that game?
John Elway’s TD throw to Rod Smith
How did you become a Broncos fan?
I was born in Boulder and lived in Denver for several years. I moved to Las Vegas when I was young but have always remained a Denver Broncos and Denver sports fan since. However any season goes, I’m always going to rep that orange and blue.