Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images
Our Ultimate Fan doesn’t see a great path to victory this week for the injured Broncos, but if there is one, it comes with quick slants and beating Tom Brady into the ground…er, “rushing the passer.”
Well, Broncos fans, it’s been a tough two weeks…
In our Hollywood version of this movie a month ago, we were looking at a blockbuster action film that probably wouldn’t win the Oscar but would have entertained millions and made the world better in the process. Now that blockbuster is teetering on being more of B-list movie with a few cameos from some older stars.
But sometimes the enjoyment of the movie is not about the depth of story or brilliant writing or impeccable acting. Sometimes it’s just about an escape from reality for a few moments to watch something crazy, maybe surprising, maybe just different but a little bit entertaining – and with cool special effects.
And in this week’s movie, we are looking for something surprising, maybe crazy, and (hopefully) some special effects.
One of those is this Ultimate Fan Guide by a new participant – Flit007 – and it’s worth the price of admission (well, actually, worth way more than the price of admission!) A true Bronco fan as he hates Tom Brady and loves Shannon Sharpe, you’re welcome for today’s entertainment!
Week 3: Buccaneers at Broncos
MHR – Ugh. Broncos are starting 0-2 and half the team is on IR. After a few days to process the Steelers’ loss, what are some takeaways from that game?
Flit007: My biggest positive takeaway is that the team fights hard even though they’re missing so many key players due to injuries. The “junkyard dog” mentality, as I like to call it, could make for very entertaining football in seasons to come where we are actually healthy. On the other hand, my biggest negative takeaway is that the team’s pass rush looked nonexistent against the Steelers. Again, injuries (especially the one to Von) played a big part in this I’m sure, but Big Ben had all day to throw far too often in that game, and it’s something that Fangio and the defense will need to address moving forward.
MHR – There were no CMIs this past game (clock mismanagement issues) but to everyone’s surprise, the Broncos were in a position to win the game (until some sketchy play-calling for 3rd-and-2 and 4th-and-2 led to an incomplete and then a sack). But what is most holding this team back from being able to win the close ones?
Flit007: In my opinion, it is the play calling on both sides of the ball. On offense we are seeing Shurmur either call plays that we don’t really have the personnel for (I’m looking at you, shovel pass on the goal line) or he gets too conservative (just like our many past OCs have also done) and as a result wastes over half the game not being able to put points on the board.
Falling into and then needing to overcome deficits is not in the best interest of our young work-in-progress offense, and that would be true without any injuries as well. On the other side of the ball, Fangio and Donatell just seem so cautious with their play calling. I already mentioned the lack of pressure on Roethlisberger last game, and you have to wonder if Fangio’s refusal to send extra guys after the passer played a part in that. I don’t know if Fangio isn’t blitzing because injuries have forced him to play inexperienced guys in the secondary who he doesn’t trust to cover their assignments without help, or if it’s just that Fangio’s system rarely uses blitzes, but I would love to see our defense generate pressure and actually get to to the QB on a more frequent basis.
MHR – So the Broncos have a backup quarterback, a rookie at WR1 (and a limited one at that), an overmatched right tackle…if you’re Pat Shurmur, what is your best chance at these guys going up against the Bucs defense and winning the one-on-ones as much as possible?
Flit007: If you’re Pat Shurmur, you’ve got to call plays that actually have a chance of success with the players that we currently have available. I’m sure the long crossing routes that take over two seconds to develop that Shurmur has been calling in the first two games would work wonders with a strong offensive line, but our O-line is severely limited. I want to see some quick slants or curls called this next game, really anything to get the ball out of Driskel’s hands ASAP, and catch the Tampa Bay defense being over aggressive, in order to open the door for big chunk plays downfield.
MHR – Although the Shaq Barrett-led Bucs’ defense is very stout, it has shown a little weakness against tight ends and speedy receivers. Sounds like a heavy dose of Noah Fant and Jerry Jeudy, does it not? Along with KJ Hamler, especially if Jeudy is limited?
Flit007: Absolutely. I felt that Fant wasn’t targeted near enough in the first half of the last game, and the tides briefly turned in our favor shortly after Driskel started throwing to him in the second half. I expect Driskel to be looking for Fant early and often in this upcoming game. I liked what I saw from Hamler against the Steelers, and I want to see more of that on the field this Sunday. Anything he can contribute will be huge with Sutton gone for the year, and Jeudy still dealing with sore ribs.
MHR – Melvin Gordon has been looking good – speedy and durable. But the Bucs’ run defense is its forté. Can Gordon get past that D-line? And then Devin White?
Flit007: Gordon had some good runs against what many would consider an even tougher front seven in the Steelers last week. I think he will likewise have several carries where he will break off for 10+ yards against the Bucs. However, Devin White along with Lavonte David comprise a scary good ILB duo, and they could give Gordon hell if they are on their games Sunday.
MHR – With the Broncos’ offensive line and the Bucs’ defensive line, what’s the over-under on number of sacks (and pressures) to Jeff Driskel this week?
Flit007: Over: 6 sacks 10 pressures. Under: 2 sacks, 5 pressures.
MHR – Moving on to the ‘other’ quarterback in the game, is it harder to hate Tom Brady knowing he’s not getting help from Darth Vader? Or is it still pretty easy to hate No. 12?
Flit007: Definitely still easy to hate TB12.
MHR – Which player will get the first sack on Brady – Jurrell Casey? Bradley Chubb? Malik Reed? Jeremiah Attachou? Mike Purcell? Or will all five have a good shot?
Flit007: Chubb has struggled to make his presence felt in the first two weeks of the season, and I attribute that to him still not having 100 percent recovered from his torn ACL last season, and the lack of Von drawing attention on the other side of opposing offensive lines. I see his struggles continuing into Week 3, so I’m going to go with Attachou being the one to get the first sack on Brady.
MHR – In the absence of AJ Bouyé, rookie Michael Ojemudia has been tested. A lot. Will the former mechanical engineering major be able to stop Mike Evans, who’s about 15 feet long when he reaches?
Flit007: Michael O has performed about as good as you could expect a rookie corner taken in the third round to perform. That being said, Mike Evans is a tough matchup for even the best corners in the NFL, so this week could be Ojemudia’s real “welcome to the NFL” game.
MHR – Last year Leonard Fournette was with the Jaguars and ran 225 yards against the Broncos’ defense. Fournette is with a different supporting cast now, but can he and the Bucs get through the Broncos defense?
Flit007: Despite all the injuries, Denver’s run defense has looked remarkably stout for the most part early on in this young season. Couple that with the fact that Fournette will be sharing snaps out of the backfield with Ronald Jones and LeSean McCoy, and I think it’s very unlikely that he even gets over 100 on us this weekend.
MHR – With all the injuries to so many key players, it’s tough to expect perfection from this Broncos’ team. Yet they did hang in there with the Steelers and just lost out in the end with the Titans. Can they master enough mojo to beat Brady in Denver?
Flit007: I would love to see the Broncos send home Brady with an L in what could very well be the last time this team ever faces the ageless wonder before his eventual retirement. If we were healthy, and Mile High could be filled to capacity with our raucous fans, I would go so far as to say that I would almost be expecting a win. Alas, we are the opposite of healthy, and the stadium will be mostly empty due to COVID. I don’t expect us to win; in fact I’m prepared for the worst, but if we do win, it will be because either the offense or defense (or both) stepped up and made big plays down the stretch.
MHR – Name a player on offense and defense that has really stood out to you so far and why?
Flit007: Offense: Noah Fant. His performance in the early going of this season compared to the same time last year has been night and day. It really appears that he has taken the next step toward becoming that superstar TE that our offense has been lacking for what seems like centuries.
Defense: Josey Jewell. This guy has gotten more than his fair share of hate since being drafted a few years back. While he has never been the elite coverage LB that our defense has needed for ages now (and he still isn’t), I have been impressed by his play this season. He has made several incredibly solid tackles (my favorite being his tackle for a loss on Derrick Henry Week 1) and has just overall stepped up his level of play in this injury-riddled season. He will probably never be a star in this league, but he is a great depth piece on any defense, and I think he is worth keeping around at the right price.
Stats for Jeff Driskel? 22-33 217 yards passing. 1 TD, 1 INT.
Stats for each Broncos RB? Gordon, 17 carries for 75 yards and a TD. Freeman, 6 carries for 16 yards.
Number of yards receiving/TDs for each receiver? Jeudy, 54 yards. Fant, 83 yards and a TD. Hamler, 17 yards. Patrick, 22 yards. Hamilton, 15 yards. Gordon, 26 yards.
Longest FG for McManus? McManus has always been McMoney from inside 50 yards. That makes my prediction of longest FG rather simple – 49 yards will be his long for the day.
Number of sacks to Lock? 0 since he will be sitting this one out. For Jeff Driskel, I predict 4 sacks. (*editor’s note: oops, wishful thinking!)
Number of sacks to Tom Brady? 2 sacks (though I’ll gladly take more)
Broncos player with the most tackles? Alexander Johnson
Who gets the most sacks? Jerry Attachou
How many INTs/FF/FR for the Broncos D? 1 INT, 2 FF, 1 FR
How many penalties will the refs get wrong? At least 2
Final Score? 27-17 Bucs
— Denver Broncos (@Broncos) September 26, 2020
Favorite Broncos game EVER? Super Bowl XXXII. No moment in Broncos history will ever top the pure joy that Elway winning his first ring gave me.
Team you hate to lose to the most? KC Chiefs. I mean, come on. The current losing streak is ridiculous.
Non AFC West team you hate to lose to the most? NE Patriots
Team you love to beat? Raiders
Favorite time Broncos beat Tom Brady? Gotta be the 2015 AFC Championship game. Our historically good defense beat the tar out of Brady, and knocked off the defending SB champs along the way to a title of our own.
Favorite game looking forward to this season? @ KC on SNF Week 13. (Arrowhead in December would’ve been hellish even before all the injuries, but I’m just excited that we get a game in prime time on a Sunday for the first time in a while).
Toughest game on the schedule? @ KC on SNF Week 13. See above comment.
Favorite Broncos player on the current roster? Easy. Von Miller.
Favorite Broncos player of all time? Shannon Sharpe. I consider him a trailblazer in terms of how TEs are utilized in modern NFL offenses. He also has a personality of gold, and supports the Broncos to this day. How can you not love the guy?
Someone call the National Guard …
— Denver Broncos (@Broncos) October 10, 2019
Favorite new guy/rookie on the team? Jerry Jeudy. Once he gets his legs underneath him a bit more, I think the kid is going to be a special player in this league for a long time.
Superstitions on game day? Only snack during commercial breaks or halftime. No eating while the game is currently in motion.
Least favorite game analyst/commentator? Cris “Now here’s a guy” Collinsworth, by a mile.
Favorite sports cliche? Defense wins championships.
Best sports GIF? Von Miller’s take on the Hingle McCringleberry celebration.
How did you become a Broncos fan?
My grandma has been a die hard Broncos fan for as long as I can remember. She introduced me to the team at a very young age, and I have been a huge supporter ever since. Broncos for life, baby.