Where in the heck did that performance by the Broncos come from?
Count me as someone who’s shocked the Broncos went down to Dallas and stuffed the Cowboys. On Friday before the game, I tried to envision a scenario in which the Broncos could pull off the upset. It was based largely on Dallas coming out flat. Dak Prescott being rusty after missing a few weeks between a calf injury and the bye week. What do you know? It happened.
But I don’t want to take away from what the Broncos accomplished. I heard a lot of that in the immediate aftermath of the win. Oh, well, Dallas was flat. Dallas gave them the game. This win isn’t that impressive. That’s BS.
The Cowboys got a big return on the opening kickoff. (Special teams. Tom McMahon. We this every week, don’t we?) Jerry’s World was loud. Dallas looked plenty engaged. Those two fourth-down stops to start the game were huge. If the Broncos fall behind 10-0 or 14-0, are we talking about how flat the Cowboys were? No, we’re likely talking about another Broncos’ loss.
Other hot takes from the game…
• Pat Shurmur finally gets it? I’ll need to see more to be convinced but this was encouraging. Lot of comparisons to last year’s Carolina game where injuries along the o-line forced Shurmur to go more run heavy and despite great results he went back to chucking it all over the yard the next week when guys got healthy. In this game, yes, there were injuries up and down the line, but the game started with just Garett Bolles out. And at the beginning, the Broncos were running the ball. Before the injuries came. Good sign. Keep it up.
• The Broncos blocking was on point! The o-line. The tight ends. Even the receivers got into the act. Is it a coincidence this happened on a day Noah Fant didn’t play? I don’t think it was. Fant is not a good blocker. With him out there was more Eric Saubert and Andrew Beck. Blocking well became contagious.
• At this point, I don’t see Fant getting a second contract. Another miss for a John Elway first-round pick. Way too many.
• On the other hand, so far, so good with the early returns on George Paton’s first class. Pat Surtain, Javonte Williams, Quinn Meinerz, Baron Browning, Caden Stearns and Jonathon Cooper have all made big rookie contributions.
• I’m not going to trash Von Miller on the way out and claim trading the Vonster removed some sort of headache. What I saw was a team that took ownership. Young players realizing with Von gone this is not only their moment, their chance, but also their responsibility to take command. Take charge. Combine that with the chip that comes with being a heavy underdog and you saw a Broncos team that played with intensity and effort and emotion. That’s huge. Too often these last five years the Broncos not only lost, but they lost in a way that just made them so… so… unlikeable. That was the kind of performance that win or lose I can get behind.
• Allow me to fight back against the idea this was a “bad win” because it will somehow fool George Paton to bring back Vic Fangio and Teddy Bridgewater. Give the guy more credit than that will you? The Broncos are 5-4. There’s a long way to go. Eight more games. Five in the division. I’m confident we’ll know what this team is when it’s all said and done. Even if they find themselves in that 9-8 world known as NFL purgatory. Paton will know. I don’t see this guy going to great lengths to talk himself into believing the status quo is the way to go. Didn’t the Von Miller trade already prove that? If he was absolutely convinced this could be a playoff team would he have traded Von? No. He already has his eyes on the future while still allowing himself to be won over by Fangio and Bridgewater. One surprise win in Dallas, as good as it feels, isn’t enough.