The Denver Broncos are off to another rough start for the 2018 season. After winning their first two games, they lost four games in a row. Their next game is Thursday night, October 18, against the Phoenix Cardinals (1-5). On paper, the Broncos seem to be the favorite, much like they were two weeks ago against the Jets. But as you know, the Jets dominated that game, rushing for 323 yards. Then, this past Sunday, the Rams maintained their winning streak on our home field, rushing the ball for 270 yards.
Unfortunately for the Broncos, Case Keenum hasn't been the savior that the fans had been hoping for. The team needs more than a quarterback after last year’s miserable season, and there are still a number of unanswered questions that need to be addressed. For starters, while the offensive line has shown some improvement with the running game, it is still struggling with protecting the passer. Keenum, like any other pocket quarterback, needs time to read the defense. He isn't a gifted scrambler, so having the time to read the line is of utmost importance. A welcome addition to the offense has been Phillip Lindsey, gifted with exceptional quickness, he is a good receiver. Royce Freeman too has been a good addition for the running game. The receiver group is solid, if Keenum has time to throw.
On defense, the letdown against the run has been a major surprise. In the last three weeks, the defense has given up an average of 245 yards on the ground, one of the worst records in the NFL. It was expected that the pass defense might slip a little after Aqib Talib signed with the Rams, but no one thought that it would be this bad. The addition of Bradley Chubb was supposed to take the double team pressure off of Von Miller, perhaps giving Derek Wolfe and Shane Ray a better chance to step up their game. That said, the obvious weak link in the defense is Bradley Roby. Although he was used a lot last season, he was never a starter at the corner position. Talib and Chris Harris Jr. were the two shut down corners and allowed the Broncos to play man for man defense in critical situations. Roby doesn't have that ability and opposing teams are attacking his side of the defense successfully every week.
Having been around this game for a number of years, it is plain to see that the head coach and defensive coordinator have serious issues and aren't getting the job done. There is no discipline on defense, their tackling is lousy, and the effort of the defensive team as a whole is lacking. We are only six games into the season, but the writing is certainly on the wall. The Broncos have to make a change at the head coaching position quickly. Vance Joseph's credentials as a good head coaching candidate were weak: he didn’t have enough experience as a coordinator to be able to step up to the head coaching position. After his first season, it became obvious that he didn’t have the ability to get the most out of his players and he should have been let go then. This season, nothing has changed.
As we head into week 1
I wanted to share some thoughts about the upcoming season along with my opinion on how the Denver Broncos will do this year.
As we all know, the Broncos struggled through the 2017 season and ended up having one of the worst seasons in recent Bronco history. The blame for last year’s poor season can be shared by the coaches and players equally.
The team has addressed a number of the issues that plagued them last season and it appears to me that this year's Broncos team will be noticeably improved. During the preseason games, the starting offensive line appeared to be much improved from last year…thankfully as that was one area of total disappointment last season. The addition of Jared Veldheer at right tackle should help by bringing 8 seasons of experience to the line. Veldheer will also improve the running game on that side of the line.
On the other side of the line, it should come as no surprise that Denver’s defensive line and linebackers will still remain as the strongest part of the team. The addition of Bradley Chubb will make it extremely difficult for opposing teams to double team Vonn Miller and should free up the middle for Derek Wolfe. The defensive backfield is still a bit of a question mark. They will miss Talib greatly and it remains to be seen if Bradley Roby will be able to play man for man defense. If Roby has trouble with the man for man defense and they have to go to a zone defense, the opposing quarterback will have a much easier time completing passes. The strength of a lock down man for man defense is that it pressures the quarterback to throw early by limiting the time that a quarterback has to get the pass off.
If the offensive line has improved, the Broncos can go to a ball control offense. With Case Keenum at quarterback, the Broncos have a passer with experience who will dink and dunk the ball down the field. Keenum is no doubt a good athlete and he has played well for the last couple of seasons. We all know that the Broncos are gifted at the wide receiver position and I wouldn't be surprised to see DT given less playing time if he doesn't step his game up a bit. I believe that Sutton is being groomed to replace DT. The running back position looks to be in good shape, both Booker and Freeman had a good preseason. The one wild card is CU’s Phillip Lindsay. He has exceptional quickness, and speed and opposing defenses will have a difficult time containing him.
The kicking game looks be solid this season. Obviously, McManus has a strong and accurate leg and is a proven commodity. As for King, I am still wondering why the Raiders gave him up. At just under 47 yards, he punted for a good average last season and I was surprised that he was available.
Looking at the upcoming season for the Broncos, I believe that we will see some serious improvement. Hopefully the injuries will be kept to a minimum and if that happens, I believe that they can win their division; the Raiders have a new coach and will probably need some time to adjust to Gruden. The Chiefs seem to be solid, but don't appear to have made any great additions in the off season. The Chargers don't appear to have done anything special in the off season to improve their chances.
I do believe that this season will be the ultimate test for Coach Vance Joseph. He really doesn't have much coaching experience as a coordinator or head coach. The Broncos took a big chance when selecting Joseph as the head coach last year, and so far, he hasn't been very impressive. Time will tell. Although, when you are a head coach, time isn't always on your side.