Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images
It’s 2020, so both are possible, but the Broncos open the season Monday night, and thanks to our “ultimate fans,” Broncos Country is behind this team 100 percent.
Welcome back to the U-F-G!
The last six months have been a long five years, haven’t they? Well, here’s to something in 2020 to look forward to – exciting Broncos football.
As Old Strike will remind us, get excited but don’t get discouraged at the mistakes. This is still a young team with a relatively untested quarterback and now a huge missing piece on the defense and a limited key weapon on offense.
But football is not for the weak-hearted and Broncos’ fandom is not for the weak-minded. So, 2020 nonsense be damned, we’re going to get behind this team and have some fun – and probably a few heart seizures – every Sunday (or Monday or Thursday) while we watch this team of youngsters go out and compete. I, for one, am soooooo ready for this.
And so is our UFGer this week. Huge thanks to Old Strike for stepping up to be the first UFGer and for doing such a fantastic job out of the gate! Also, it turns out Old Strike has a few talents beyond being a Broncos fan, including writing/producing some great tunes for his band, Forgotten Masses. Check out their latest song, Sunny Days. It’s outstanding.
And then check out our favorite team in Orange and Blue!
— Denver Broncos (@Broncos) September 11, 2020
Week 1: Titans at Broncos on Monday Night Football
MHR – As if the offseason weren’t difficult enough to navigate, now Von Miller is out for the season (or most of it). On a scale from “just so thrilled to watch football” to “add this season to the 2020 dumpster fire” – how are you feeling about this upcoming season overall?
OldStrike: Well… I was on the “thrilled for the season to start” train, but with the recent spate of injuries I started leaning toward the burning dumpster. Nah, I’m ready to cheer on the Broncos come hell or high water.
MHR – There is a lot of hype over Drew Lock as he takes over as the bonafide leader of the team. What kind of expectations do you have of the young QB in Game 1 against the Titans, as well as the entire season? How patient should we be as fans with his progress and performance this year?
OldStrike: I expect Drew will have a few early jitters Monday night but suspect that Shurmer will have a game plan that will feature a fairly heavy dose of runs and play-action passes to start. Once things have settled in, then probably more shots down the field as long as the o-line can keep Drew upright. Overall, we need to keep in mind that Lock is still practically a rookie, five games started notwithstanding. As long as we see steady improvement and Lock can continue to show he’s a leader, then we should be happy even if/when there are some ups and downs.
MHR – Courtland Sutton may or may not play Monday night, but all eyes are likely to be on Jerry Jeudy anyway. What do you want to see from him in his NFL debut?
OldStrike: From the film I’ve seen, with the kid’s route running and unbelievable footwork, he’s going to get open. With enough time Lock should find him a few times. What I hope to see is his willingness to be a blocker on running plays, screens and swing passes.
MHR – Before training camp there was a lot of talk about the “rivalry” between Melvin Gordon and Phillip Lindsay, but Pat Shurmur essentially telegraphed that he’ll be using them about equal time. And both are listed as RB1 on the depth chart. Do you see both having big seasons? Do you think the days are over where offenses can really just have one main RB1?
OldStrike: By and large, yes, the era of one feature back is mostly history. There are a few backs (Henry) that have shown they can be the bell cow, but they don’t seem to come around as often as they once did. Barring injury, aargh, I think they’ll both have good seasons, but I don’t expect either to eclipse the 1,000-yard mark. Now, if Gordon goes down then Lindsay may surpass that mark again. I hope they both break the 1,000 all purpose yards, just don’t see it. If they do, then things are going pretty darned well for Denver.
MHR – Last year Noah Fant struggled early (as is typical at the TE position). How excited are you to see if he can pick up where he left off by the end of the season?
OldStrike: With a year under his belt, Fant shouldn’t miss a beat and do well. With the other tight end additions, that room is looking a lot better than it has for some time.
MHR – Lloyd Cushenberry III vaulted up the depth chart pretty quick over the last three weeks to start Monday night at Center. How does he add confidence in the offensive line? Is the O-line going to be able to hold up against Jadeveon Clowney (if he plays)?
OldStrike: Cush is very smart and tough as nails. From everything I’ve seen and heard the team and coaches are very high on him. I’m sure there will be a few, umm… moments, for him, but that should be expected from a rookie. I think he’ll be great in the long run. As for Clowney, without many practice reps, playing at altitude, I would imagine he’s not going to be an every down player in the beginning. When he is in, I’m guessing some doubling and chipping will be in order.
— Denver Broncos (@Broncos) September 11, 2020
MHR – Missing Von Miller is a huge blow for team and defensive morale, but do you think Malik Reed and Jeremiah Attachou can step up enough to keep the defense from taking a huge step back? Are you concerned about Bradley Chubb at all?
OldStrike: I do have some concerns, but Reed and Attachou have shown to be decent players. The whole team will need to step up with Von out and Chubb on a limited snap count, but I think they’ll be up to the task. I just hope Chubb doesn’t suffer any setbacks, or it’ll probably be a lot tougher.
MHR – How will the addition of Jurrell Casey make this defense even tougher up front and will it be able to get a lot of pressure on Ryan Tannehill this week?
OldStrike: Jurrell Casey is one heck of a baller and his ability to press the pocket will help a lot in Von’s absence. As long as Reed and Attachou can keep contain, things could get a bit dicey for Tannehill.
MHR – Arguably the toughest guy to stop on Monday night will be Derrick Henry. Is this defensive front plus the linebackers up to the task? How much will the Broncos be missing Todd Davis? Can Alexander Johnson and Josey Jewell get the job done the way Johnson and Davis did last season?
OldStrike: Denver was able to stop Henry last year and I think they can again this time around. I’m not worried about AJ, he’ll be fine; but Jewell does tend to get caught biting too hard on the play action pass and will need some help with tight end/running back coverage. His heart is there, but I do worry about his coverage abilities.
MHR – For the first time in a few years, the secondary looks pretty strong between Justin Simmons, Kareem Jackson, A.J. Bouyé and Bryce Callahan. How do you feel about this group? Who would you like to see in as CB No. 3?
OldStrike: I half expect to see Harris as the No. 3, just remains to be seen since I thought for sure it was going to be Bausby. We may even have a Bassey sighting. If the D can stop Henry, there should be some opportunities for the DBs to come up with a turnover or two.
MHR – What is your all-time favorite Monday Night Football Broncos game?
OldStrike: The Green Bay snow game. From ESPN:
The Packers fumbled on the first play on each of their first two drives, with the Broncos returning both for touchdowns. It’s the only time a defense scored twice on the first two plays from scrimmage in NFL history.
Green Bay failed to score any points until the third quarter, when Gerry Ellis rushed into the end zone from 5 yards out. The Packers coughed up the ball five total times compared to Denver’s one.
The Broncos would win 17-14 thanks to the fumble returns and bare-footed kicker Rich Karlis, who made both extra points and a 30-yard field goal in the whirling snow.
Stats for Drew Lock? 19-25, 248 yds passing with two TDs, 15 yards rushing
Stats for each Broncos RB? Lindsay, 14 carries for 73 yards, 1 TD; Gordon, 12 carries for 42 yards plus 4 catches for another 25.
Number of yards receiving/TDs for each receiver? That’s a tough one. With Sutton dinged up we’ll likely see the ball spread around well. I’ll say one TD for Fant and one to JJ.
Longest FG for McManus? 47 yards, and it’ll be his only attempt
Number of sacks to Lock? 0 I didn’t even need to fill this one in.
Number of sacks to Ryan Tannehill? 4
Broncos player with the most tackles? AJ followed close by Simmons
Who gets the most sacks? Attachou
How many INTs/FF/FR for the Broncos D? 2 INTs, Bouyé with 1 and Simmons with 1
How many penalties will the refs get wrong? 4-5, with one egregious missed PI
Final Score? I was going to change my mind here with the injuries, but I’m sticking with my original thought. 24-20 Broncos
— Denver Broncos (@Broncos) September 11, 2020
Favorite Broncos game EVER? One of my favorites has always been the first AFCCG vs the Raiders, but it’s too hard not to love SB XXXII
Team(s) you hate to lose to the most? Raiders
Team you love to beat? Raiders followed closely by the P@ts and Chefs
Favorite game this season? The next one… But I’ll go with the Chefs at home.
Toughest game on the schedule? The Chefs away. Why do we always have to play them “away” in December?
Favorite Broncos player on the current roster? Phillip Lindsay. The guy is just always so excited and exciting.
Favorite Broncos player of all time? This is another tough one, so many to choose from. But…Steve Atwater.
Favorite new guy/rookie on the team? Cush and JJ are close, but I’ll go with JJ just because of his insane route running.
Superstitions on game day? First, all of last year’s swag has to be removed. It’s a long story. Maybe after the last few years I should drag it all back out. After that, put on my Atwater jersey and Broncos cap and crack a cold one.
Least favorite game analyst/commentator? Cris Collinsworth, without a doubt!
Favorite sports cliche? “On any given Sunday.”
How did you become a Broncos fan?
I grew up watching football as far back as I can remember, and that’s a long way. A lot of college ball in those days and the parents had season tickets to Georgia Tech games. (Definitely not a UGA fan.) Living in the Atlanta burbs before there was a Falcons team, we usually ended up only getting one game on Sunday, and it seemed to always be the Redskins, ugh.
I was a Vikings fan in the 60s and early 70s, one of the reasons I still hate the Chefs, among others. We moved to Florida and were there when Miami was in its heyday and loved watching Miami beat Washington. We moved to Colorado in 1976 and honestly had no clue about the Broncos. After watching that amazing defense and the exciting ways they were able to pull out a victory, I was hooked. Then the following year they beat the Raiders and went to the big show. What’s not to love, right?