Fangio, Bridgewater and Broncos prove they aren’t ready for primetime
They had a chance to prove us all wrong. They had an opportunity to silence all the naysayers.
It was right there in front of them.
That’s what awaited the Broncos on Sunday night. That’s what was on the line in front of a national TV audience.
A win would’ve pushed the Broncos into a three-way tie atop the AFC West. It would’ve put them in the thick of the playoff race. It would’ve shown that this year is different.
Beating the Chiefs would’ve done all of those things. And it would’ve been a mic-drop moment for two key members of the organization.
Vic Fangio has been much-maligned during his tenure in Denver. That’s what comes with a 18-25 (heading into Sunday night) record. But he could’ve all but assured a fourth season at the helm with a win.
If the Broncos had gotten to 7-5, sat atop the division and ended an 11-game losing streak to the Chiefs, the franchise would’ve convinced themselves that Fangio had turned the corner. All of his clock mismanagement, bad challenges and other blunders would’ve been forgiven.
Teddy Bridgewater wasn’t the quarterback that Broncos Country wanted this season. They were hoping for Aaron Rodgers. They would’ve been excited with Justin Fields. And they would’ve gone along with Drew Lock.
If Denver had won in Kansas City, however, it would’ve been tough to argue that the Broncos didn’t make the right decision. A QB getting his team atop the standings is more important than style points.
It was all right there in front of them.
Instead, the Broncos laid an egg. The stumbled and fumbled their way to another loss to the Chiefs. They looked woefully inept in the franchise’s biggest game since Super Bowl 50.
The 22-9 final score doesn’t do the game justice. Denver fell behind 10-0 early and they never felt like they were a serious threat to Kansas City.
They trailed by 19 points in the fourth quarter to a team that, to be honest, didn’t have a very good night. The Chiefs were ripe for the picking, and the Broncos still couldn’t come close to beating them.
Oh, they did some good things. But it just seemed like the Chiefs were toying with them all night.
And why wouldn’t they? The Broncos don’t have a head coach or quarterback who can make them pay.
Fangio mismanaged the clock, threw an ill-advised challenge flag and made a fateful decision that resulted in a 20-play, 88-yard, 11:00 drive end in zero points. His team made some brutal mental errors, as well, repeating the types of special teams gaffes that have plagued the Broncos throughout the head coach’s tenure.
Bridgewater was just bad. He threw two interceptions, including a pick-six that sealed the deal in the fourth quarter. But mostly, he just appeared overwhelmed by the situation. He just couldn’t make enough plays, leading the Broncos offense to three points through the first 54-plus minutes of the game.
It was all too predictable. It was all too familiar.
The Broncos played like they always seem to play under Fangio. Denver’s offense sputtered the way it always seems to sputter with Bridgewater at the helm.
As a result, the Broncos now sit at 6-6. They’re well on their way to an 8-9 or 9-8 finish.
That’ll likely mean they miss the playoffs. It should mean the end of Fangio and Bridgewater.
Sunday night was a chance for both to prove everyone wrong. Instead, they did just the opposite.
Fangio and Bridgewater showed that the naysayers have been right all along. They just aren’t good enough.
The two most important members of a football team are the head coach and the quarterback. For the Broncos, neither is ready for primetime.
It was right there in front of us.