Mile High Monday: The real problem that is plaguing the Broncos

Oct 11, 2021, 6:29 AM
Teddy Bridgewater...
(Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images)
(Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images)

The Denver Broncos season is on shaky ground. After winning the first three games of the 2021 season, the Broncos have now dropped two games in a row. The Pittsburgh Steelers beat them on Sunday 27-19, but the Broncos fought hard to get back in that game after doing next to nothing in the first half.

I like when the Broncos show some fight. They have a good collection of players, but the game plan for these players does not quite fit. Hopefully over the rest of the season the Broncos change that on both sides of the ball.

I also like contemplating life and sports when driving around with the top down on my old Jeep TJ! The following is a result of those trips during the week.

Buckle up, let’s take a ride through my thoughts.


The Real Power Rankings

It seems like every website under the sun does a weekly Power Rankings of NFL teams as they go through the season. It’s a fun (and repetitive) exercise that some writers go through every week. “Hot take” radio, or (as I like to call it) “list” radio, hosts will go through these each week like the gospel passed down from the mountain. For the most part, power rankings are folly but they are like mock drafts – everyone loves them.

The real ranking should come when considering the aptitude of the coaching staff. If the Broncos were ranked by coaching staff, I can’t imagine they would rank too high – especially when it comes to head coach and offensive coordinator.

Vic Fangio is in his third year as head coach, and he still seems more like a glorified defensive coordinator than a head coach. Too often, Fangio seems solely focused on his defense and doesn’t seem to be as engaged with the offensive side of the ball. Don’t get me started on timeout issues and playcalling issues that fall on Fangio’s shoulders. Also, when things go wrong Fangio seems to blame everyone but himself. The best head coaches in the NFL take the blame if they make a mistake. Fangio seems to be an expert at passing the buck.

Offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur does not have a great system. The best offenses that he’s been a part of (I’m not counting his time with Chip Kelly because that was Kelly’s system) have regularly ranked in the 20s. I believe the best year he had as a coordinator, his offense ranked No. 18 in the NFL. That’s below average – and that’s the best he’s ever been. The Broncos offense is regularly underperforming, and I blame the playcalling of Shurmur. They have talent, but Shurmur does not play to their strengths and instead follows his system without considering other options or other ways to attack a defense (see his lack of screen passes, etc).

How do the Broncos players overcome bad coaching? This is their largest challenge going forward in the 2021 season. It’s a challenge I don’t think they can overcome, so we’re basically just wasting time with this coaching staff. Maybe I’m wrong, but I don’t think so.


Birthday Bash

I love Broncos wide receiver Courtland Sutton. Ever since he was selected by the Broncos in the second round of the 2018 NFL draft, I’ve called Sutton the “steal of the draft.” It has been fun watching his career with the Broncos, and I still feel the best is yet to come.
We saw some of that on Sunday against the Steelers – on Sutton’s birthday. He was targeted 11 times, caught seven passes for 120 yards and one touchdown in Week 5.

He tweaked his ankle in practice on Friday, and he was considered a game-time decision before the Steelers game. Sutton was able to quickly show he was ready before the game, and then he quickly showed that he could be dominant this week.

Sutton was able to have this monster game on the same field he tore his ACL on roughly a year ago. I’m sure that was something on his mind as he prepared during the week of practice. It didn’t seem to be on his mind when he was dominating the Steelers secondary.

Sutton’s efforts did not lead to a win, which I’m sure is what he wanted the most. I sure hope this coaching staff figures out that he needs to be a big part of the offense every week. Sutton had a big game in Week 2 (159 yards) but only had 84 yards in the two games following that. It was nice to see him targeted early and often this week.


Off the Ole Block

Broncos starting tight end Noah Fant struggles when it comes to blocking. As a receiver, Fant is one of the best in the game at his position. The problem is tight end isn’t just a receiving position. We saw several times against the Steelers when Fant’s man blew right past him for the sack or tackle to stunt the Broncos on offense.

Too many times we saw Fant standing around after a play when his man made the play. Fant needs better positioning as a blocker and needs to make sure that he’s not the weak spot when the team is pass-blocking and trying to protect the quarterback.

Fant is a fine receiving weapon, but to truly be a well-rounded tight end he must improve as a blocker. The Broncos need to double their efforts when it comes to working with Fant on his blocking skill.

With Okwuegbunam on IR, they’ll be without him for at least two more games. During that time, we need to see better effort and performance when it comes to blocking from Fant. He can’t be a “tell” when he’s on the field, meaning he can’t give away that a pass route is coming because he’s such a bad blocker. Fant also cannot be a pushover when he does go to block.

They say that blocking is a lot about “want to” and I know Fant wants to be better. Hopefully, he can speed things up in his development in the blocking department.


Squid Game Video Game

The latest Netflix movie to take the internet by storm is “Squid Game.” The log line for the game, or the trailer, gets you immediately hooked. On Netflix, the show is described as “Hundreds of cash-strapped players accept a strange invitation to compete in children’s games. Inside, a tempting prize awaits — with deadly high stakes.” If that doesn’t hook you, I don’t know what will.

I’m not going to spoil the show, but it’s worth watching for fans out there – for multiple reasons. The show is a hit and now it’s supposed to be made into a video game. This is perfect because the show is about a game that people play to win cash – with death being the punishment for losing the game.

Playing this on a console would be fun and interactive. It’s a way to immerse yourself into the show even more. No date has been set for release, but they should be able to put something together quickly and “Squid Game” has been greenlit for a second season. The end of season one will want you coming back for more in this universe.

Did you enjoy “Squid Game” on Netflix? Hit me up on social media and let me know!


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