That Broncos vs Titans game was as messy as it could have possibly been. Gostkowski missing three field goals and an extra point to keep the Broncos in the game was the biggest headline of the night but boy was it a crap shoot of a game the whole way through. Gostkowski, the Titans kicker, did everything he could to gift the Broncos a win by missing pretty much every field goal and the Donkey’s could not capitalize one bit. The defense showed up and played better than expected all game, and like multiple times last year they couldn’t stop the opposing offense on the last drive of the game. Just like last season the defense can’t be blamed all that much. They held their own against the Titans and held them to under 20 points. The offense has to step up and score more than a meager 14 points to win games, and they just couldn’t do it. ANOTHER heartbreaking loss where the Broncos held a lead with 30 seconds to go and couldn’t pull a win.
What an absolutely miserable stat. Losing four games when holding a lead with under 30 seconds to go sucks. Getting beat when you’re seconds away from victory has to be so much more deflating than getting blown out. I sure know it is as fans. There were some good to the Broncos game though.
Going into the game the Broncos would be down their franchise player Von Miller, and number one receiver Courtland Sutton. By the end of the night they’d be without starting cornerback AJ Bouye and running back Phillip Lindsay as well. Even without all those guys the Broncos were able to keep it close in spite of themselves and in thanks to Gostkowski’s atrocious kicking. Seriously if Gostkowski makes even half of his kicks the Broncos never even would have had a lead to blow in the fourth quarter.
One of the most infuriating parts of watching that Broncos game was the play calling. Whether it was in the last 7 minutes of the game with a 1 point lead or down by 6 on the one yard line the Broncos offensive play calling was bad. Just plain bad. Who the fuck calls a shovel pass on 4th and goal from the inch line? Sure it’s predictable, but running it straight up the middle is so much easier to execute and works way more often. Did the Broncos not sign a larger back in Melvin Gordon for this very reason? To run it up the middle against all the big guys when the smaller Lindsay can’t? Sure, Gordon fumbled earlier in the game, which was also pretty bad, but you’ve got a pretty sizable running back named Royce Freeman on the roster too. Freeman or Gordon could have been the power back to move the pile forward a mere three feet. When the shovel pass works its a thing of beauty, but boy is it ugly when it fails.
The shovel pass was just the start of piss poor play calling. I guess thats what the Broncos get when they hire the Giants head coach as their offensive coordinator. Pat Shurmer is an experienced coach, but he looked completely out of touch calling plays. Shovel pass on the goal line, and passing the ball more than running it with a lead in the fourth quarter is the last thing you’d expect from an experienced offensive coordinator. It was a “we zig when they zag” type of mentality that just did not pan out one bit. The Broncos had the ball with seven minutes to go and they had a lead, rather than run the ball and try to drain as much clock as possible the Shurmer directed offense elected to throw the ball stopping the clock and gifting the Titans plenty of time to come back and win. I just want to know what Shurmer was thinking calling up a shot to the end zone on the Broncos side of the field with under three minutes to go on third and six. I don’t even do that when I’m trying to run up the score in Madden, let alone when I’m up by one point. You get the first down and drain clock, it is so god damn simple.
The play calling was pretty bad and at times mind boggling, but the most confusing thing that happened all game involved head coach Vic Fangio. Did he think those extra timeouts would carry over to next game? Was he told that a new rule was in place this year that said for every time out left over at the end of the game you’d get an extra point? I can’t think of a single reason that Vic Fangio doesn’t call timeouts at the end of the game. The Titans were marching down the field to win the game with under two minutes to play, both teams have all three timeouts and the only coach to actually use them was Mike Vrabel. Fangio could have stopped the clock multiple times to give his offense more time to work with after the Titans made the eventual game winning field goal, but he didn’t. He elects to stop the clock once with 30 seconds left and preserve the last two time outs for… what exactly? I genuinely don’t know. 30 seconds left on the clock with two timeouts left is barely enough time for an Aaron Rodgers miracle comeback, but it’s definitely not enough time for Drew Lock and the young Broncos offense.
While play calling sucked, and Fangio lacked any sort of clock management skills, it can’t be all to blame. First round pick Jerry Jeudy dropped a pass early in the game and another one later in the game that would have extended the Broncos drive while they had the lead in the fourth quarter. Melvin Gordon fumbled the ball, something Phillip Lindsay has never done, and a Broncos interception was called back due to defensive holding. Broncos shot themselves in the foot more than once.
Besides those two drops Jeudy looked fantastic. His explosiveness off the line was unreal for a rookie. Same goes for his footwork when running routes, just unbelievably crisp routes for a rookie. He’s got some work to do but Jeudy looked good in his debut. He’ll only get better as the season progresses. Plus when Sutton is back from an AC joint sprain opposing corners and safeties won’t be able to double team Jeudy.
Jeudy is a home run hitter. No doubt about it. His speed and moves in the open field make him dangerous every time he catches the ball. Yet the rookie will have to catch the ball first to get those home runs. So besides those two drops he was a bright spot.
Other bright spots in the game for the Broncos were the defense, Noah Fant, Drew Lock, and dare I say it, Garret Bolles. Broncos fans have been unbelievably harsh on the left tackle Bolles. Rightfully so, the amount of holding penalties Bolles has committed that have killed Broncos drives is astounding. Yet Bolles was not mentioned once in Monday’s loss to the Titans, and thats a really good thing. Bolles didn’t commit a single holding penalty, he wasn’t a human turnstile either. That is something Broncos fans are not used to at all. It’ll take more than one game to redeem Garret Bolles in the eyes of Broncos fans but he’s on the right track after the first game.
Noah Fant had the most receptions of any receiver on the Broncos. He got open all game, he was excellent running the ball after the catch, and he blocked well on run plays. Overall it was a solid outing from Fant. The Drew Lock to Noah Fant connection is one Broncos fans can be excited about all season, and hopefully years to come.
Now for Drew Lock. He was easily the most hyped quarterback on the Broncos roster since Peyton Manning came to town. Lock’s swagger, enthusiasm, and love of the game convinced everyone he was going to be an instant star in the NFL. 22 of 33 with 216 passing yards and a touchdown isn’t exactly lighting up the stat sheet, but he played extremely well. He did fumble the ball twice on snaps that came from under center, something Lock was not used to at Missouri, yet he didn’t lose either of those fumbles. The more Lock plays under center the better he will get at those center to quarterback exchanges. Having a rookie center probably doesn’t help too much either, but the two will get that exchange dialed in. Sooner rather than later hopefully. Did Lock go out there and absolutely shred the Titans defense? No. Did he play really well for his sixth ever NFL game? Yeah he did. Lock’s future is still extremely bright, same for the Broncos. The offense is young and explosive, while the defense looked just as good as last year even without Von Miller. If the Broncos can stop shooting themselves in the foot, call better plays on offense, and actually use timeouts at the right time maybe they will be able to win games this year.