BRONCOS

Mile High Monday: Changes may be on the horizon for the Broncos

Oct 18, 2021, 6:18 AM | Updated: 8:07 am
DENVER, COLORADO - SEPTEMBER 26: Denver Broncos head coach Vic Fangio looks at his play book as the...
(Photo by RJ Sangosti/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
(Photo by RJ Sangosti/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images)

The Denver Broncos could be on the verge of making changes in the near future. They were flat out embarrassed against the Las Vegas Raiders on Sunday, losing by a score of 34-24. This puts head coach Vic Fangio squarely on the hot seat, even though the Broncos don’t have an owner who could make the call to remove the head coach if he doesn’t get things turned around quickly.

I like the idea of what the Broncos could be with a new coaching staff. If the team had an owner then Fangio would be coaching for his job on Thursday against the Cleveland Browns. Because there is no owner in place, Fangio is probably safe even if they lose in Week 7 – making it four straight losses after three straight wins to open the season.

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.

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Under Pressure

Broncos quarterback Teddy Bridgewater was rattled against the Raiders. He was under duress all day long and ended up getting sacked five times on Sunday.

It’s not just the sacks, it the impact the Raiders pass rush had on Bridgewater as a passer as they forced three interceptions in Week 6. Bridgewater throws interceptions, he’s not immune from doing that, but he had been very careful with the football for most of the 2021 season.

I think the rush has rattled Bridgewater. Gone is his footwork where he stands in and delivers the football on target and on time. It has been replaced by a quarterback who rushes throws, gets too “toesy” when he does throw and his passes are sailing out of bounds or over the heads of his intended targets.

Pressure seems to also have robbed Bridgewater of his joy. He’s getting hit and he looks to be in pain. He did have a concussion a couple of weeks ago against the Ravens, and Bridgewater hasn’t looked the same since then. Bridgewater also doesn’t smile as much as he used to when he’s on the field for the Broncos.

The Broncos must do a better job of protecting Bridgewater if they want to get back on the winning track. The offensive line has been disappointing this year – all across the line. They need to block better so Bridgewater gets to step into his throws and feel comfortable doing so on most plays.

Offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur also needs to call better plays. Everyone knows the Raiders play umbrella coverage and don’t let big plays happen over the top. However, most plays we saw were deep routes where Bridgewater had to hang onto the rock too long. Shurmur should have called short passes to keep the Raiders pass rush at bay.
Sunday was a teachable moment, but are the Broncos veteran coaches open to learning?

***

Nothing But Penalties

It’s been an up-and-down season for Broncos tight end Noah Fant. The team started out using him as a big part of their passing game, but then they went away from him for a couple of weeks. The offense started going back to Fant, only to see his role reduced again.

On Sunday, Fant was a big part of the passing game – and he was a big problem for the rushing game. In the first half against the Raiders, Fant got a holding penalty which pushed his season total to four penalties in six games. That’s a poor mark, and he wasn’t done yet.

At the beginning of the second half, Fant got another holding penalty – making it five penalties for him this season – tying the mark he had last year. He’s just not a good blocker, even though he’s a great receiver. Blocking is about technique and desire. His technique is poor, and he just doesn’t seem like he wants to block. He gets energized when a pass is thrown his way, and he does get disappointed when he misses a block – but he just doesn’t get better in that department.

Fant finished the game against the Raiders with nine catches for 97 yards and one touchdown. That’s a great stat line, but it does not make up for his shortcomings in the ground game. Fant must be better as he’s one of the most talented players on the roster at any position. We’ll see if the Broncos can get the best out of him going forward.

***

Be Like Mike

Former Broncos head coach Mike Shanahan was inducted into the Ring of Fame at halftime against the Raiders. It was a long overdue honor for the best coach the Broncos have ever had. Shanahan led the team to two Super Bowls and is beloved by fans and players who were coached by him.

Things are so different now with the head coaching position of the Broncos.

I wish Fangio would be more like Shanahan. Fangio will lose this team, and perhaps lose his job, if things don’t get on the winning track. Shanahan’s teams had some bad years, but those years – the 8-8 and 7-9 seasons – would be a huge upgrade over what Fangio has done with the position. After winning three games in a row to start the 2021 season, the Broncos have now dropped three in a row.

It doesn’t look like Fangio and the Broncos will win against a better Cleveland Browns team on Thursday night. That means they could be 3-4 in the matter of a few days. Looking over the rest of the schedule and you don’t see too many more games where they can win – or even be competitive. Getting to seven wins might be out of the picture, and nobody is talking about the Broncos in the playoffs anymore.

Shanahan is now in the Ring of Fame, and it won’t be long until we see him in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. The entire NFL seems to be running a version of the Shanahan system. Several of his disciples now have major coaching roles across the league, and the “Shanahan offense” is just part of the nomenclature of the league.

He’s been a huge influence on the game, and it was fun to see him finally inducted by the Broncos. While things are off track with Fangio and the current coaching staff, we always have those memories of how great things used to be when Shanahan was calling the shots.

***

I Am Vengeance

On Saturday the online convention DC FanDome was held, and we got to see quite a bit of what DC Comics has coming up in movies, cartoons and comic books. We got to see glimpses of The Flash and Black Adam, but everyone was waiting for the new trailer for the upcoming Batman movie.

Robert Pattinson stars as the Caped Crusader in next year’s film “The Batman” which comes out in early March 2022. We’d seen glimpses of the movie, screen shots and some videos but this felt like the first big event to promote the next Batman movie.

This movie looks gritty and takes us back to early Batman stories. It’s based loosely on “Year One” and “Batman: Ego” which were two dramas in comic books that were well written. Pattinson is not my first choice as Batman, but I always reserve judgement until I see the movie. He may end up being a great Batman like I feel Michael Keaton, Christian Bale and Ben Affleck were in my opinion.

Are you excited about the new Batman movie? What did you think of the new trailer? Hit me up on social networking and let me know!

***

Follow Cecil Lammey on Twitter and Instagram: @cecillammey

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