Broncos Exposed, Battered by Eagles

Last week, I spoke at length about the Sunk Cost Fallacy, and that moving on from Trevor Siemian at quarterback was in the best interest of the team. No matter how long the Broncos believed he was the answer at that position, it was better to wash their hands of the problem now rather than continuing to try and salvage it.

After watching the Broncos get annihilated in Philly on Sunday, it’s become rather clear to me that these sunk costs exist all across the roster, and the Broncos’ brass are going to have to decide just how long they’re willing to put up with them before they blow the whole thing up and rebuild it from scratch. Brock Osweiler is not saving the season. Vance Joseph appears to be in way over his head. The defense, while still very good, is worn out from carrying this team for the last three seasons and has some of the same crucial weaknesses that have been around for what feels like forever.

John Elway’s motto was always that he didn’t only want to win now, but from now on. The Broncos aren’t winning much right now and things may very well get a lot worse before they start winning again in the future. Maybe the motto should be, “Everything is terrible, who wants a shot of Jack?”

The Good

1. Brandon McManus

It’s becoming painfully difficult to find the silver lining after each loss, but I have to give McMoney his due for fighting through his slump and getting back to the consistency that he’s known for. McManus has made his last five field goal attempts, including three on Sunday, one of which was a 53-yarder. Eventually the Broncos will be back in a position to win close games and it’s nice knowing that they’ll probably have a kicker they can count on to come through for them. At least someone on the team is on an upward trajectory.

The Ugly

1. The Offensive Line

Yup, we are skipping The Bad section this week, because that whole dumpster fire of a game was ugly. I’m running out of ways to convey how inept the offensive line is week after week, so how about a poem?

Against the Eagles, our offensive line was stonewalled
trying to block for plays on the ground and in the air.
You’d think at some point, they’d play well when called
but alas, they still suck and life just isn’t fair.

For those of you unimpressed by my crudely written rhyme, the offensive line allowed Brock Osweiler to be the most pressured quarterback in the league this week, let him get sacked three times and paved the way for just 35 yards rushing on 19 carries, which made for a pitiful 1.8 yards per attempt. I for one prefer channeling my inner Dr. Seuss rather than having to look at that bullshit.

2. Brock Osweiler

In hindsight, I made two rather serious mistakes when I predicted that the Broncos would beat the Eagles: 1) I severely underestimated just how good Philly is this season and 2) I overestimated the positive impact that Brock could have on the Broncos offense. Granted, I never said he would come out and look like an all-pro or anything, but just that if he minimized his mistakes and took some of the pressure off the defense, then the Broncos could steal a win. Obviously, that didn’t even come close to happening.

Brock had zero to do with the defense getting torched by Carson Wentz and the Eagles offense, but he had a lot to do with how ineffective he was in sparking the offense. Completing just 50 percent of your passes for 208 yards and tossing a couple picks (including several other balls that could’ve been picked off) is not often going to get the job done on the road against a good team. Yeah, I know that he was constantly under duress. I also know that he performed about as well as he did last year with Houston. It’s just who Brock is and that’s not a whole lot better, if any, than what the Broncos were getting from Siemian. On the plus side, the Broncos did lead 3-0 for a brief stretch in the first quarter, so Brock had that going for him at least.

Unless he pulls off another stunner against the Patriots this week, we’re almost definitely going to see Paxton Lynch in the lineup sooner rather than later. I doubt he will fare much better than his predecessors, but at least he’ll provide an answer on whether or not the Broncos need to go shopping for a new quarterback this offseason. Baker Mayfield, anyone?

3. The Defense

There’s no easy way to say this, so I’ll just come right out with it: Sunday’s effort against the Eagles was the worst I’ve seen from the Broncos defense since Jack Del Rio was still in town. Whether it was being constantly fooled by misdirection plays, getting burned downfield by Alshon Jeffery or yielding gaping holes to Jay Ajayi, the defense was beaten a variety of ways by the Eagles’ relentless attack. I suppose it was payback for the shellacking that Peyton Manning dealt Philly back in 2013, during his record-breaking season. Those were the good ol’ days, right?

While the Denver D is still capable of somehow keeping the Broncos in the game most weeks, they are also clearly no longer the elite unit that propelled the team to the Super Bowl back in 2015. If that wasn’t evident last season, it definitely is now.

4. Vance Joseph

I’ve been cautious in piling too much blame onto the Broncos’ rookie head coach. After all, it takes time for every guy to figure things out when he gets his first crack at the job. However, this team has effort and discipline-related deficiencies that can no longer be ignored. It seems like every week the Broncos are outcoached and outhustled by their opponent and then magnify the situation by shooting themselves in the foot with penalties. When this happens in one game, you can write it off as a bad day at the office. When it occurs four weeks in a row, then there are some serious issues going on that need to be dealt with.

It’s not fair to make him the only scapegoat for what has been happening. He didn’t build this roster and he doesn’t have the luxury of relying on a legendary quarterback or a historically great defense to win games, as John Fox and Gary Kubiak did. That being said, it’s his job to ensure that the Broncos are well-prepared and play with discipline come Sunday, and not just have a “great week of practice.” So far this season, we haven’t seen too much of that.

5. John Elway

Every addition the Broncos make to their “L” column is another sad reminder that the man who has meant so much to this franchise as a player and an executive has done very little to help it the past two seasons. With the exception of the alien from another planet Bill Belichick, every general manager makes mistakes or has a bad run in assembling his team’s roster. Elway is very clearly in one of those slumps, as few of the additions he has made since the Super Bowl have made a positive impact for the Broncos. Draft picks aren’t panning out. The big moves in the offseason are absent. Positions of weakness are as bad as they’ve ever been, if not worse.

You can bet that this season is killing Elway, because it’s a direct result of all the choices he has made over the last couple of years. You can also count on him being driven to do whatever he can to fix it and restore the Broncos to their winning ways. However, in order to do so he needs to look in the mirror and realize that there are certain pitfalls that have continuously befallen him as a GM and he needs to avoid them in the future (favoring tall quarterbacks, using band-aids to cover holes on the offensive line, practically ignoring the middle linebacker position, etc.).

I trust that John Elway is still the man who will right this ship. If it takes a bad season for him to realize his mistakes and get this team back on course, then I guess we’ll all have to be loyal fans and stomach it until next year.

Next week’s game: Patriots 23, Broncos 10

After being thoroughly embarrassed by the Eagles, I have a feeling the Broncos’ defense will look to take its anger out on somebody and they love hitting Tom Brady. He typically struggles in Denver, anyway. And while the offense could find some life against a pretty mediocre New England D, I just don’t trust them at all at this point. I’m certainly not predicting any more upsets until they actually pull one off.

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