We’re on to Cincinnati… and other hot Broncos observations
• I learned a lot in the aftermath of Demaryius Thomas’ tragic passing. I already knew the man was the most-talented wide receiver in Broncos history and the second-best wideout trailing only Rod Smith. I knew he was good guy who was good in the community. What I didn’t know was he was a great guy and great in the community. That came through loud and clear with the heart-warming tributes from former teammates and the overwhelming outpouring of stories from fans who shared memories of meeting DT at charitable events, camps and just out in daily life. The anecdotes captured the warmth, kindness, generosity and good humor of DT. A huge force that will be missed.
• Style points mattered in this win over the Lions. Escaping with a 20-17 win would not have been impressive. The Broncos needed to win big to create the belief this team has a finishing kick in them that could land them in the playoffs.
• That said, can anyone really trust the Broncos to keep this going with the Bengals coming to town? This team’s consistent inconsistency is maddening. Then again, look around the NFL. It’s happening everywhere. Just when you think you have a bead on a team-positively or negatively-they go the other way.
• The Bengals game is must-win. In order to get to 10 wins they will need to put together a three-game winning streak. What’s more likely? Beat Detroit and Cincy at home then win in Vegas, or, lose this week to Cincy then expect them to turn around and finish off the season with wins at Vegas, at the Chargers, then home against a KC team that will probably still have something to play for?
• Chuckling at the idea that Pat Shurmur and Vic Fangio just like Melvin Gordon more than Javonte Williams, which explains Gordon returning and getting the bulk of the carries against Detroit. What is this, kindergarten?
• What makes more sense is Williams is a rookie who’s already played more football than any other season in his life. The Broncos are trying to preserve him. Plus, he’s their future. Gordon is likely in his last few games as a Bronco. He’s a good back. Use him up. He’s a running back. Move ’em in, move ’em out. Get as much out of Gordon as you can. Sound strategy.
• I thought the Broncos missed an opportunity on Sunday. Yes, they were running the ball. I get the idea of sticking with something that was working. But their passing game is struggling, especially the connections between Teddy Bridgewater and his wide receivers. All I hear from the pro-running-the-ball crowd is how running the ball sets up big plays in the passing game. Knowing it was Detroit, I thought Shurmur and Bridgewater should’ve tried to push the issue more in throwing the ball downfield to build some chemistry and confidence in the passing game. They will need that to win three of these final four games. A small nit to pick, but one to pick nonetheless.
• 10,000 no shows? Likely more than that? Closer to 15k? Probably. Big deal? Yeah. It was a beautiful day. The Broncos are in playoff contention. Who cares about the quality of the opponent? That hasn’t stopped Broncos fans from packing the stadium before. So what’s the deal? Clearly, the fan base doesn’t buy this coach and doesn’t buy this quarterback. Being 7-6 and with a chance to make the playoffs isn’t exciting everyone. Some folks have already made up their minds about where this team is and where it’s going and they aren’t going to be talked into artificially getting excited about where this season is going. Which I would get if the Broncos were coming off a string of playoff seasons that included a Super Bowl win. This is happening after several years of bad football, yet it isn’t enough to excite?
• Well, all that stuff is in the past. The Broncos still have a lot to play for. Plenty of chances to inspire a skeptical fan base. Which is why, in the words of that great NFL philosopher: “We’re onto Cincinnati.”