Hello friends, and welcome to the 2017 er 2018 season. Last season was a catastrophe for our beloved knuckleheads in orange and blue, and this season, though still young, seems to be heading the same way.
There are so many issues on this team, and some of them I believe are normal when you look at other teams around the league. I want to look at the biggest issues, or perceived issues, that Broncos fans have observed thus far this year.
Thought: Case Keenum is awful and I hate him!
Reality: It’s really tough to find a franchise QB
The Broncos are fortunate to have had two of the best QB’s to ever play. But who is the third best QB in franchise history? Jake Plummer? Tim Tebow? The Jets have been looking for a franchise QB since Joe Namath. The Dolphins haven’t had one since Dan Marino. Every franchise has whiffed on a QB at some point, either in free agency or the draft. I certainly understand the frustration of the current QB situation, but I believe fans got way too spoiled (myself included) during the Manning era. Let’s look at the current man under center in Denver.
I don’t dislike Case Keenum, and I certainly don’t understand so much of the hatred directed at him from fans over the last few weeks. If you’ve seen him on Hard Knocks or All or Nothing, he’s a very down to earth guy. And his teammates believe in him. (Sorry if I sound like VJ right now; I’m trying to look for the positives :)) But he’s struggled to consistently push the ball down the field in the early parts of games, and similar to #13 (I can’t speak his name), he’s struggled with turnovers and holding onto the ball too long. Now, two things can be true at the same time: Keenum has underperformed, but the offensive line has been bad as well.
So where does this leave us? Unfortunately for Keenum, I believe he won’t see a contract extension. I was excited for the Keenum signing. But he’s best served on a strong playoff team with a great defense and running game. The Broncos have the running game, but fall behind often, and it’s unrealistic to expect Keenum to always bring the team back from the brink.
For the love of donuts, please keep Chad Kelly out of this. Remember Kyle Sloter? Guys who play well in pre-season are often never heard from again. There are a muriad of problems on this team. Chad Kelly is not the answer, he’s just the unknown. The backup QB is always the favorite guy for fans of a struggling team.
I don’t believe the QB of the future is on this roster. I liked the Bradley Chubb pick, but as long as this team is below .500, people will question the Broncos not taking a QB this year. The good news is that we’ll probably get a high pick again for the 2019 draft. That’s my silver lining. Elway will keep trying to find his guy, but it’s not going to happen overnight.
Thought: Vance Joseph is the worst coach ever and I literally can’t even, he makes me so mad, why are you challenging an eight yard catch, why can’t your team win road games, he’s not having the time of his life, he needs to be fired, I hope he’s never happy again, etc.
Reality: Yeah, he’s pretty bad. But if he’s fired, how many issues will that really fix? This team is bad, and that’s not all on Joseph.
Broncos fans are really sensitive about this one. The head coach is the easiest one to blame when things are bad, and they haven’t been this bad in a long time for the Broncos.
When VJ was hired, he had a relationship with front office man Matt Russell, and was touted as a leader of men and a local, having played at CU. Now, the Broncos were already kind of in a weird situation when he was hired. Gary Kubiak retired/was fired/had health issues that forced him to step down after the 2016 season. Joseph was tagged as the replacement, coming in after a season as Miami’s defensive coordinator. Remember the mood of Broncos fan’s towards Kubiak? How pissed we were at a 9-7 season? That the offense was bad and archaic? Oh how I long for those days.
Fast foward to today. The Broncos have won one road game since VJ was hired, and that was against the Colts, without Andrew Luck. Brock Lobster was the starting QB that game. I think this has just been too big for VJ. Young coaches often have a hard time when they first become the front man for the team, but looking around the league doesn’t really help VJ’s case. Sean McVay is crushing it in LA. Kyle Shanahan and the 49ers at least looked promising until Jimmy G went down with an injury. Even Adam Gase, an ex-Bronco coordinator, has the Dolphins playing above expectations. So what gives?
My biggest knock on VJ isn’t personal, it’s that he was just not the guy to come onto a team that badly needed an offensive makeover. The offense was bad before VJ, and it’s still bad now. My hope is that the next coach (seems inevitable at this point) is an innovative one who has a real solid plan for rebuilding this team from the ground up, and knows the exact personnel he needs to make that happen. Elway wanted a yes man, and he got one in VJ.
I think it’s easy to become bitter and cyncical for every action the coach commits when the team is in a slump. We’ve all heard the “practice” quotes. How many times does the same message get repeated before it falls on deaf ears, to both fans and players? The most damning thing about VJ is that this team can’t recover from mental mistakes. How many bad penalties have the Broncos committed at the worst times? How many times on the road have they looked beat from the 2nd quarter on? I don’t put a bad offensive line on the head coach, but I put preparation on him. And this team hasn’t looked prepared in a loooooooong time.
I still vote Josh McDaniels as the worst coach ever for the Broncos, because he was supposed to be a genius. Let’s say VJ get’s fired going into the bye. Who is going to replace him on this staff that is going to do a better job? People are calling for Joe Wood’s job, and Billy Musgrave’s offense has been bad too. The bad roster that exists isn’t suddenly going to get better because Vance is gone, at least not this year. Speaking of this, here is my biggest pet peeve that I hear.
Thought: The Broncos would be good if they just tweaked a few things. The roster is still full of talent, it’s the scheme/coaching/front office that is at fault.
Reality: This isn’t 2015!!! The roster is depleted/aging, and many talented players are gone, and the replacements aren’t great.
I hear this alot. I love the optimism, but strongly disagree. Who is the most talented player on the Broncos defense? I’d say Chris Harris Jr. In fact, if I had to write about #25, it’d be nothing but good things. Wish we had 22 Chris Harris’s. Most people would say Von Miller. The guy hasn’t had a sack in 3 games. Yikes. And that’s probably the consensus best player on the team. Who else is making plays for the Broncos on defense? Not Bradley Roby or Brandon Marshall. Derek Wolfe can’t stay healthy. Gone are Demarcus Ware, the chain snatching dude, Danny Treviathan, Malik Jackson, etc.
It’s really tough to maintain an elite defense. Look at the Seahawks, the Legion of Boom is dead and gone. The Seahawks are left with a great QB in Russell Wilson, and not a lot else. If only we had a great QB. The defense has been depleted, and the blue chip free agents aren’t coming in anymore. This defense is at times average, but we’ve already seen several long TD drives against them. The No-Fly zone is dead, and QB’s are getting rid of the ball quickly or gashing the Broncos inside. I love Von, but he’s had no impact the last 3 weeks.
On offense, a leaky unit since 2015, the problems have gotten worse. Garrett Bolles is frequently out of position and committs too many holds/tackles/WWE takedowns. The RT position has been a turnstile. DT has long been criticized for drops, and Emmanuel Sanders just isn’t used as effectively as he should be in the offense (I still think he can play). We already covered the QB issues. I actually love our RB group, but they just aren’t on the field enough.
The draft has seen so many busts. Carlos Henderson, Isaiah Mckensie, Paxton Lynch, that one CSU lineman I can’t remember, Brendan Langley, Demarcus Walker, etc etc. I’ll get to the good picks, but for every year you miss on picks, your team loses depth. The Broncos have the least depth they’ve had in years. This team is a shell of itself and needs a full rebuild, not just a few tweaks. Which brings me to…..
Jordan Thought: This team has some promising players, but it needs to be acknowledged that they aren’t in “win now” mode. The sooner management faces this, the sooner they can actually have a plan going foward.
Reality: Maybe I’m just dreaming. It could get worse, though I’m not sure how.
I love Phillip Lindsay, Royce Freeman, Courtland Sutton, DeShaun Hamilton, and Josey Jewell. I’m excited they’re rookie Broncos, and I think they’re great building blocks. I’m optimistic the Broncos will be more thorough in their next head coaching search, and that eventually Elway will find the right QB. The defense has a few pieces, but outside of #25 and #58, I don’t see any starter that couldn’t be replaced. Here’s to hoping for a brighter future. Beat LA!!!