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Broncos at Raiders: The No Bull Review

The Broncos ended their season with a whimper against the Raiders. Here are my thoughts, opinions, and analysis on their lackluster game.

Denver Broncos v Las Vegas Raiders Photo by Candice Ward/Getty Images

The optimist in me enjoys the positive gain of getting a better draft pick this offseason. But truly, I think a win would have sat better with me as a fan.

This season was up and down and all over the place. It would have been nice to see the first winning season since 2016 and for that, I think this team fell short. We went from chasing a playoff spot to chasing a winning record to losing once again.

I hope that this doesn’t sit well with the players…because it plainly has sat just fine with many of them for years. I certainly don’t think it is going to sit well with Sean Payton and I expect a lot of change this offseason in response to how this season went. We’ll dig into the roster next week and get some No Bull thoughts on where our players are and what upgrades we’ll likely see.

But for now, let’s spit some truth about this game.

Offense

What a disappointment from this offense. We made a change at quarterback supposedly to get a better chance of winning. I’m not so sure if that is what we saw with Stidham behind center. Supposedly our run game was supposed to be a feature of this offense (we heard this mantra all year), but the team averaged 2.4 ypc.

Our receivers looked completely average and our line blocked poorly. There wasn’t much to lean on from an offensive standpoint. I’d say Sean Payton did a fairly good job of selling us swampland in Arizona with the quarterback change topic. It was about protecting the finances of the team first and foremost the whole time (which I don’t knock them for, I just would have loved to hear honesty about it instead of some nonsense about Stidham being a better quarterback than Russell Wilson).

Quarterbacks

Denver Broncos v Las Vegas Raiders Photo by Candice Ward/Getty Images

Jarrett Stidham looks like a decent backup quarterback. I honestly think he has a place in the league in that role. We saw some more of the things he does better than Wilson in this game: throws to crossing routes over the middle, timing passes, and quick read ability. His accuracy sadly wasn’t up to snuff as he showed more of the problems we saw last week with him consistently throwing short and/or behind his targets.

Line

Cam Flemming looked most of the part of a fence post at right tackle. Against an edge rusher with the jets to get to the outside his slow footwork really stood out. It was mentioned ad nauseam in the broadcast and they weren’t wrong. Fleming looked like a guard playing tackle with slow feet and no ability to engage with the wide rush angles that were used all game long to exploit his slowness.

Our guards had their own problems as well. Ben Powers got out to block for a screen and just didn’t engage at all. Quinn Meinerz on two occasions was blocking air as a guy split the gap between him and Lloyd Cushenberry.

Let’s put to rest the nonsense about Russell Wilson being the cause of all the sacks this season…our line wasn’t up to snuff regardless of which quarterback was behind center.

Running Backs

I can’t think of a team with a weaker backfield than the Denver Broncos. Javonte Williams is a plodder who rarely averages 3.5 ypc or more (he did exceed that by .1 yards this game due in large to one 11-yard gain). Jaleel McLaughlin looks like a guy who has skills but lacks the size to make a splash on his own with a weak line. Samaje Perine is honestly my favorite back on the team because he plays consistently and looks like a solid #3 RB, but he’s not lighting up the scoreboard either.

Receivers

Denver Broncos v Las Vegas Raiders Photo by Candice Ward/Getty Images

Jerry Jeudy easily had his best play of the year on a 2nd and 22 where he showed superb quickness, balance, and resolve to get to the end zone. We’re always wondering if that’s the kind of play we’d see if he had a more timing-based quarterback tossing him the rock. I do know that I like seeing him get more targets.

Brandon Johnson honestly set himself up for having a safe job next season. He played at a high level for a depth receiver on the roster. I loved his 36-yard crossing route in the first half. It was an explosive play that contributed to a touchdown drive.

Defense

For all the razzle-dazzle this defense brought us in the middle of the season, they just got worse and worse as the year marched on. Without the magic of consistent turnovers, their poor tackling, bad run blocking, and inability to rush the passer led to a bad Las Vegas Raiders team putting up 27 on the Broncos.

I’ve touted the job Vance Joseph did in the middle of the season, but as the year wraps up I can’t help but think his job is in jeopardy. There’s something to be said with how little talent he was working with, but a good coordinator should be able to get more out of his players against non-elite competition than our last three games were.

Front 7

Denver Broncos v Las Vegas Raiders Photo by Ian Maule/Getty Images

Baron Browning opens the game up with a sack with a beautiful delayed rush off the left side of the offense. He had a TFL on the game and another quarterback hit on the day which was the best defensive output you’ll see from our weak defensive front.

Secondary

NFL: Denver Broncos at Las Vegas Raiders Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

Patrick Surtain II nearly had a pick on his 2nd play of the game. It was soon after that that the Raiders stopped throwing at him.

Fabian Moreau got flat-footed against the Raiders’ fastest receiver and paid for giving up a huge gain at the end of the first half. He had a rough game with only one pass defended to his name against several plays completed on him.

Special Teams

We have two good notes about our special teams:

  1. The coaching for this unit is doing exceptionally better than we’ve seen in the past few years
  2. We have a real returner in Marvin Mimms, Jr. who gets the most out of our returns consistently.

Final Thoughts

Largely this game was meaningless in the grand scheme of things. Another win doesn’t get us to the playoffs. Another loss helps us get better draft picks. I hate losing to the Raiders, but it isn’t like this game helped them at all either. They now have a worse draft pick from winning a meaningless game at the end of the season which never feels good a week or two after the season is over and you start looking at the draft.

The exciting thing is that we get to look forward to some positive changes for this roster this offseason. We’ll supposedly need to look for a new quarterback which will be exciting. I’m honestly more excited about upgrading some areas of this team that are woefully lacking (offensive line, defensive front, inside linebackers off the top of my head).

Let me finish the season by thanking all of you out there in Broncos Country for reading my reviews, commenting, etc. I’ve been doing this since about 2010 in some form or function and I’m thankful for every year getting to talk Broncos football with all of you.