You may not have known this, but the Nuggets are kicking off their 2017-18 season tonight. They’ll be wearing new uniforms and featuring a new star player, hoping that they actually register on the NBA’s radar this season. They are definitely already on mine.
For the second straight year, I’m predicting that the Nuggets will find themselves back in the playoffs for the first time since George Karl was roaming the Denver bench. But what does making the playoffs even mean in the NBA anymore? I suppose it’s all about perspective.
Oh, and yes that is Nikola Jokic messing around with Paul Millsap in the photo above. If that doesn’t get you excited for this season, I’m not sure anything I can say is going to do the trick. But I’ll try anyway.
There’s not much to say after a loss like this. When you get your ass kicked by a bad team at home despite having plenty of time to rest and prepare, there aren’t really any excuses either. You just have to hope that the stink of your pathetic performance will wash off and not carry over to the following week. And that’s the reality that the Broncos woke up to yesterday after they laid an egg and were embarrassed by the lowly New York Giants.
I’m sure that adjustments will be made. You’ll hear a lot of soundbites this week about how the Broncos just came up short against a desperate team and didn’t play their best game. A lot of players will be pissed off and will vow that it won’t happen again this season, and I hope that proves to be true. I really do.
But, as Kevin said in a group text with me and our buddy Ryan yesterday morning, “I thought we lost because we secretly suck.”
To which I respond, unless last night was just an aberration, then the secret is out.
“Little too close for comfort there at the end.”
My buddy Ryan’s synopsis of the Broncos’ win over the Raiders hit the nail right on the head. That was more or less my first thought after the game concluded, as it was just an ugly win overall and much closer at the end than it needed to be. But after reflecting on it for a bit, I remembered that the 2015 season was littered with ugly wins and that turned out pretty well for the Broncos.
Not to say that the Broncos can make it that far this year without improving in some crucial areas. They can’t. All I’m saying is that it’s a reminder that the defense is and has been the backbone of this team, and that the offense doesn’t have to be the best in the league for the Broncos to win most Sundays. For instance, if McManus makes that field goal he missed yesterday and Siemian and co. come away with just one more touchdown, the outcome of the game isn’t even close to being in doubt. And I don’t think it’s too much to ask of this offense to score 20+ points per game and give their defense a cushion to work with, especially when it’s already happened twice this season.
We’ll see if they are improved or not after the bye, but for one week at least, we were all back in the glorious year of 2015, watching the dominant Denver defense close the door for another hard fought win. Almost brings a tear to my eye.
Welp, that was about as frustrating a loss as there is in the NFL. On a day when the Broncos needed to dig deep to overcome a resilient foe, they came up empty. And for a team that has made so much progress from the mediocrity that defined their 2016 season, Sunday was a step backward.
Games like this will happen. Buffalo has never been a kind venue for Denver, as the Broncos haven’t won there since 2007, and one glance at the scoreboard will show that there were upsets and near upsets aplenty for week 3, so it could’ve just been one of those days. However, the fact remains that the Broncos had plenty of chances to reverse their fortunes and come away with a hard-fought win, and they just didn’t get it done. It’s really as simple as that.
Does this mean that the Broncos are no better than last year’s squad and are destined to miss the playoffs again? Of course not. It just means that they have a lot of things to improve on if they want to keep pace with Kansas City and Oakland, despite the latter getting routed last night by Washington. They’ll have a chance to do the same thing to the Raiders next week, and so long as they get back to what made them successful in the first two games, there’s no reason why that can’t happen.
Hopefully it does. On the bright side, the Raiders lost on Sunday too. It wasn’t all bad!
Before Sunday, it had been a hot minute since we’d last seen the Broncos play anything closely resembling a complete game. I’m thinking maybe back in 2015 against the Packers? That’s a long damn time. Then they went out and did something that basically no one outside of their locker room thought they could do: for four quarters, they largely bullied and battered the beleaguered Cowboys en route to a 42-17 blowout.
It was the brand of Broncos’ football that we’ve all come to know and love, and the one that has typically been most successful for the team. Run the ball with authority, take what they give you in the passing game and play great defense. It was a beautiful sight to behold and reestablished the Broncos as legitimate contenders in the AFC.
And though there’s plenty of credit to go around, we may as well start with everyone’s favorite seventh-round quarterback.
A good rule of thumb is to not overreact to week 1 of the NFL season. You don’t wanna get too high or too low, unless you’re a Bengals fan and you just watched your quarterback toss four picks and your team get shutout. Then you can overreact with impunity. For the rest of us, it’s important to stay on an even keel. Case in point? The Bills, Jaguars and Rams are all currently in first place in their respective divisions.
That’s why I’m trying not to read too much into the Broncos’ nail-biting win last night over the Chargers. On the one hand, it was encouraging to see the team eek out a close game over a division rival in Vance Joseph’s first game as head coach. On the other, it was eerily similar to last year’s opener against the Panthers. The Broncos almost blow a fourth quarter lead, only to be bailed out when they ice the other team’s kicker and then he misses his second attempt.
One game a season does not make, and there were enough promising signs to suggest that the Broncos are improved from last year’s squad that missed the playoffs. That’s why, for now, I’m not going to get too concerned that they may not have improved enough on the flaws that hindered them in 2016, and will happily take the win. More thoughts and analysis (mostly happy) after the jump.
Back in June, I got bored one day and attempted to predict what the makeup of the Broncos’ final 53-man roster would look like. For the most part, my opinions haven’t changed that much since then, but considering tomorrow is the last preseason game and I found myself kind of bored again, I figured it would be a good time to take one more shot at predicting those 53.
This will mainly consist of me offering up my insight with a couple of self-deprecating jokes mixed in, but now we also know that the Broncos are rumored to move on from T.J. Ward. And we have to talk about that too, right?
Hit the jump and we’ll get to it.