Broncos at a Crossroads After Offense Stumbles Once More

You may not know this about Kevin, but he studied economics and is something of an expert on the subject. He recently introduced me to this concept called the Sunk Cost Fallacy, which is essentially a person’s refusal to abandon a resource because they don’t want to waste it, even though they are never going to get a full return on its value. I’m probably paraphrasing just a tad, but basically if I have tickets to a concert and can’t sell them or find someone else to go, I’ll still go to it myself to avoid having to eat the tickets.

And that’s where the Broncos currently find themselves with their quarterback situation, particularly as it relates to Trevor Siemian. Sure, it may not have cost them a whole lot to acquire the seventh rounder out of Northwestern, but they have certainly devoted a lot of time and energy into making him the starter for this team. He’s started 21 games for two different coaching staffs and seems to be regressing more with each one.

Moreover, the Broncos displayed a disconcerting amount of support for a player who didn’t deserve it based on his performance, and that’s where the Sunk Cost Fallacy kicks in. Saying things like “he’s our starter” or “he’s a young player and could get better” are highly irrelevant compared to what is actually happening, especially when everyone outside of Dove Valley could tell that Siemian is not the answer at quarterback.

And when you find yourself at a crossroad, the choice that you make could very well define the rest of your season. That choice for now is going with Brock Osweiler to try and salvage these last nine games. The Broncos may not fare any better with Brock at the helm, but they were going nowhere with Siemian. Kudos to the team for finally abandoning their sunk cost, even if it’s a bit overdue.

The Good

1. The Defense

Yes dear readers, there were some positives that came away from Monday night’s letdown at Arrowhead, as hard as that may be to fathom. I really can’t say enough about the Broncos’ defense, which for two and a half seasons has been saddled with below average to putrid production from their offensive counterparts and yet still finds ways to keep the team in games. Monday was no exception, as the defense limited rookie phenom Kareem Hunt to just 46 yards rushing and speedster Tyreek Hill to 38 yards receiving. Yes, Travis Kelce still ripped the pass defense up for 133 yards of his own, but they also came away with a couple of turnovers at key times.

I can’t blame Chris Harris Jr. for being vocal about his frustrations. It sucks when you’re working your ass off and doing a great job, yet there’s a group of co-workers who keep dragging your whole organization down. Anyone can relate to that.

2. The Running Game

For all the attention that is paid to the Broncos’ issues at quarterback and in pass protection, they are quietly having a very productive season on the ground. They currently boast the 10th best rushing attack in the NFL, a big improvement from last year’s unit that was near the bottom of the league. That continued against the Chiefs, as the Broncos gashed their rivals for 177 yards and a touchdown by Devontae Booker.

None of us are happy about the offense overall, but I take a small measure of solace in the fact that at least something on that side of the ball is going right. Now if we could just get the passing game up to speed…

The Bad

1. Special Teams

Brock Olivo is a good man for continuously falling on the sword for his players. Too bad that he has to keep doing that since he can’t get his special teams to play at an adequate level. Whether it’s Isaiah McKenzie looking like he’s never returned a punt in his life or Riley Dixon barely getting his punts down the field, it seems like it’s always something from this unit that’s hurting the Broncos. And considering that we are nearly at mid-season, I think it’s time to admit that they just aren’t that good.

2. Vance Joseph

It’s hard to tell how Vance is going to turn out as coach of the Broncos. On the one hand, his team has lost four of their last five games and are a lot closer to a top-10 draft pick than they are to going back to the playoffs. On the other, he inherited the mess on offense that plagued the team last year and it would be difficult for any coach to win under those circumstances.

That being said, Vance made the decision to stick with Trevor after bad losses to the Giants and Chargers, so he has to lie in the bed that he made. Combine that with the Broncos’ sloppy play over the past few weeks (which has been defined by turnovers and penalties), and it’s hard to come to any other conclusion than that he is a rookie head coach who has been making a lot of mistakes.

Benching Trevor for Brock was a step in the right direction, so hopefully he sharpens up his team and comes to earn the “Leader of Men” moniker that John Elway repeatedly bestowed upon him in the offseason. Then again, there are no good quarterbacks currently on this roster, so maybe there’s only so much he can do this year.

The Ugly

1. Lack of Playmakers at Slot Receiver/Tight End

Don’t worry, I’m not trying to provide an excuse for Siemian’s poor play, but quarterbacks need a variety of weapons to be successful in this league. It can’t just be one receiver who is responsible for all of a team’s big plays. People love to pile on Demaryius Thomas for his drops and such, and believe me, sometimes I wish he was more dynamic too. Try and picture this offense without him, though, and imagine what that would be like. Whether it’s Bennie Fowler having passes bounce right off his hands or the tight ends being completely absent, that’s a pretty ugly thought.

And I know that Emmanuel Sanders was out again, but really this problem goes back a number of years. Not since the days of Wes Welker and Julius Thomas has this offense had reliable third and fourth options to turn to in the passing game, and color me unimpressed by the ones the Broncos have used this season. Isaiah McKenzie was billed as Denver’s version of Tyreek Hill, but even if they swapped uniforms no one would mistake one for the other. Fowler is less like Welker and more like Clifford Franklin and although I enjoy Jordan Taylor’s highlight reel catches in training camp as much as anyone, it has yet to translate to the regular season.

Maybe Jake Butt will provide a spark when he finally makes his NFL debut, or maybe he’ll play like a guy who hasn’t been in a game for almost a year. Regardless, it’s sad that the Broncos are counting on a rookie working his way back from an injury to revive the dormant tight end position, but at this point the toolbox is looking pretty empty.

2. Trevor Siemian

Welp, here we are. A week after Siemian and the offense got skunked by the Chargers, he followed it up with the worst performance of his career. If you haven’t seen enough at this point to know that he’s not a starting quarterback in this league, even after the Broncos are turning to BROCK FREAKING OSWEILER to save their season, I don’t really know what else to tell you.

And since Trevor has already been demoted for the Brock Lobster, I’m not going to spend any more time beating a dead horse. Let’s all just move on, okay?

Next week’s game:¬†Broncos 20, Eagles 16

Now hear me out for a second. I know that the Eagles have the league’s best record and that the Broncos are undergoing all kinds of turmoil, and looking at this game on paper, there’s no reason to believe the Broncos can go on the road and win this thing. But I feel like everyone is a little too high on the Eagles right now, probably including the Eagles themselves, and this has the makings of a classic trap game.

And Carson Wentz is still just a second-year quarterback and he hasn’t faced the Denver D before, and if Brock can just be average and not turn the ball over… I mean who knows, right? I’m not saying I like the Broncos’ chances beyond this week, but I think they can pull off the upset on Sunday.

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