It’s been a long season for Broncos fans. Less than two years removed from watching our team win its third Super Bowl at Levi’s Stadium, it’s become a chore to even sit through an entire game. Vance Joseph was adamant in his belief before the season that these Broncos weren’t broken and just needed a reboot, not an entire rebuild. As loss after loss has piled up, it’s abundantly clear that he couldn’t have been more wrong in his assertion.
Wrong, wrong, wrong.
Outside of a few early wins, the Broncos are in the midst of their longest stretch of futility since Josh McDaniels was fist-pumping and screaming at players on the sideline. They’ve already matched their worst losing streak in 50 years and are almost assured to finish the season near the bottom of the league. There is a silver lining that comes with that (you know, embrace the tank!), but while having a good draft pick will be nice, writing these recaps every week has become rather depressing. Watching the Broncos most recent display of vomit-inducing football is bad enough without having to relive it again.
Then this morning, Scotty Payne of Mile High Report posted an article about how the Broncos can reset their organization and get back to their winning ways, which inspired me to more or less do the same thing for my weekly recap. It sounded like a lot more fun than revisiting the rampant ugliness that is Broncos football.
I’ll offer some of my own thoughts on a few of Scotty’s ideas (hopefully he doesn’t unfollow me on Twitter) and present some that I’ve seen from a couple other guys in the Denver media (or “local bloggers,” as Mike Klis would call them). They are good ideas and they need to be shared as much as possible.
There’s not much to say after a loss like this. When you get your ass kicked by a bad team at home despite having plenty of time to rest and prepare, there aren’t really any excuses either. You just have to hope that the stink of your pathetic performance will wash off and not carry over to the following week. And that’s the reality that the Broncos woke up to yesterday after they laid an egg and were embarrassed by the lowly New York Giants.
I’m sure that adjustments will be made. You’ll hear a lot of soundbites this week about how the Broncos just came up short against a desperate team and didn’t play their best game. A lot of players will be pissed off and will vow that it won’t happen again this season, and I hope that proves to be true. I really do.
But, as Kevin said in a group text with me and our buddy Ryan yesterday morning, “I thought we lost because we secretly suck.”
To which I respond, unless last night was just an aberration, then the secret is out.
“Little too close for comfort there at the end.”
My buddy Ryan’s synopsis of the Broncos’ win over the Raiders hit the nail right on the head. That was more or less my first thought after the game concluded, as it was just an ugly win overall and much closer at the end than it needed to be. But after reflecting on it for a bit, I remembered that the 2015 season was littered with ugly wins and that turned out pretty well for the Broncos.
Not to say that the Broncos can make it that far this year without improving in some crucial areas. They can’t. All I’m saying is that it’s a reminder that the defense is and has been the backbone of this team, and that the offense doesn’t have to be the best in the league for the Broncos to win most Sundays. For instance, if McManus makes that field goal he missed yesterday and Siemian and co. come away with just one more touchdown, the outcome of the game isn’t even close to being in doubt. And I don’t think it’s too much to ask of this offense to score 20+ points per game and give their defense a cushion to work with, especially when it’s already happened twice this season.
We’ll see if they are improved or not after the bye, but for one week at least, we were all back in the glorious year of 2015, watching the dominant Denver defense close the door for another hard fought win. Almost brings a tear to my eye.
Welp, that was about as frustrating a loss as there is in the NFL. On a day when the Broncos needed to dig deep to overcome a resilient foe, they came up empty. And for a team that has made so much progress from the mediocrity that defined their 2016 season, Sunday was a step backward.
Games like this will happen. Buffalo has never been a kind venue for Denver, as the Broncos haven’t won there since 2007, and one glance at the scoreboard will show that there were upsets and near upsets aplenty for week 3, so it could’ve just been one of those days. However, the fact remains that the Broncos had plenty of chances to reverse their fortunes and come away with a hard-fought win, and they just didn’t get it done. It’s really as simple as that.
Does this mean that the Broncos are no better than last year’s squad and are destined to miss the playoffs again? Of course not. It just means that they have a lot of things to improve on if they want to keep pace with Kansas City and Oakland, despite the latter getting routed last night by Washington. They’ll have a chance to do the same thing to the Raiders next week, and so long as they get back to what made them successful in the first two games, there’s no reason why that can’t happen.
Hopefully it does. On the bright side, the Raiders lost on Sunday too. It wasn’t all bad!
A good rule of thumb is to not overreact to week 1 of the NFL season. You don’t wanna get too high or too low, unless you’re a Bengals fan and you just watched your quarterback toss four picks and your team get shutout. Then you can overreact with impunity. For the rest of us, it’s important to stay on an even keel. Case in point? The Bills, Jaguars and Rams are all currently in first place in their respective divisions.
That’s why I’m trying not to read too much into the Broncos’ nail-biting win last night over the Chargers. On the one hand, it was encouraging to see the team eek out a close game over a division rival in Vance Joseph’s first game as head coach. On the other, it was eerily similar to last year’s opener against the Panthers. The Broncos almost blow a fourth quarter lead, only to be bailed out when they ice the other team’s kicker and then he misses his second attempt.
One game a season does not make, and there were enough promising signs to suggest that the Broncos are improved from last year’s squad that missed the playoffs. That’s why, for now, I’m not going to get too concerned that they may not have improved enough on the flaws that hindered them in 2016, and will happily take the win. More thoughts and analysis (mostly happy) after the jump.
Back in June, I got bored one day and attempted to predict what the makeup of the Broncos’ final 53-man roster would look like. For the most part, my opinions haven’t changed that much since then, but considering tomorrow is the last preseason game and I found myself kind of bored again, I figured it would be a good time to take one more shot at predicting those 53.
This will mainly consist of me offering up my insight with a couple of self-deprecating jokes mixed in, but now we also know that the Broncos are rumored to move on from T.J. Ward. And we have to talk about that too, right?
Hit the jump and we’ll get to it.
With OTA’s and minicamp in the books, we are entering the most boring time of the calendar year for the Broncos. Quite frankly, the only time any breaking news emerges from late June to early-mid July, it’s always for the wrong reason. So let’s all knock on wood and hope that none of the Broncos do anything to grab our attention until training camp starts.
In the meantime, now is as good a time as any to take a crack at what the Broncos’ final 53-man roster will look like. Let’s get to it.
The Super Bowl is the hardest championship to win in professional sports. “Bunk!” you might say. “You have to play 162 games just to make the playoffs in baseball, or have to topple the superteam Warriors or the Lebron-led Cavs in order to win the NBA Finals.” If you said that, I would agree that you made some good points, but I’d stand by my opinion.
Sure, the NFL season is only 16 games long and at most you only have to claim four victories to get that Super Bowl ring, equivalent to a series win in other sports. Those games are hard to pull out though, people, and it only takes one bad day for everything to come crashing down. Stink out the joint in an NFL playoff game and your season is over. No game two. No series to tie or opportunities for redemption. It was this level of failure during the most crucial times that cost John Fox his job here in Denver, and why despite all of their domination over the rest of the league, the Patriots have lifted the Lombardi trophy just one time over the past 11 years.
Resigning Von Miller may have seemed like an arduous task, mostly thanks to all of the silly and media manufactured drama, but it’s a day at the beach compared to what it will take for the Broncos to be back-to-back champions.
Contract negotiations in sports are like relationships. You have to compromise, talk things out and come to an arrangement that makes both sides happy. Oftentimes, feelings are hurt and that will cause someone to lash out or send a not so subtle message about how disgruntled they are. Look no further than Von Miller’s somewhat comical cropping of a White House picture that left John Elway on the outside looking in.
Maybe these negotiations are more like high school relationships?
Nevertheless, from Elway “lowballing” Miller to Von supposedly threatening to sit out the season if he doesn’t get the deal he is looking for, the prevailing theory is that tensions are high between the Broncos and their franchise player, making the likelihood that a new contract will be reached dismal at best. It’s kind of pathetic how much drama the media tries to fabricate surrounding these situations every year. What’s really alarming is how many people seem to take the bait, hook, line and sinker.
My prediction? You will hear a lot more about how contentious these talks have been, only to watch as Miller signs a long-term deal by the July 15 deadline that will either make him very rich or super rich. A lot of journalists will feign surprise even though absolutely no one should be surprised. Here’s why.
Today is the last day of the NFL Combine and you know what that means; we’ve just been subjected to endless amounts of drills, 40-yard dash times and everyone going bonkers over Michael Sam, most of which none of us will care about when next season starts. Sam is a big deal right now, and I applaud his bravery and the way he’s handled himself in the media, but once he’s drafted he’ll just be another player. That’s what he would prefer anyway I’m sure and that’s how teams are going to treat him. We do live in the year 2014, after all. Back on subject, this is also the time of the year when teams start devising their plans for the off-season and commence putting it into action. Here at Pegboard, we love trying to predict the future and figure out just what our beloved Broncos might do to kick their Super Bowl hangover. I’m not going to talk at-length about that game because I have absolutely no desire to relive it. The Seahawks were dominant, the Broncos were dreadful and I’ll just leave it at that.
The defending AFC Champions will be good enough to contend once more next season, but here are five steps they can take this off-season to ensure that the conclusion will be more satisfying.