Like every week, we reached out to our opponents and this week it was Broncos sister site, Mile High Report, to have them answer a handful of questions so all of us can get a bit better acquainted prior to this Sunday’s intra-divisional tilt in Denver.
A big thank you to Joe Rowles (@JoRo_NFL) from MHR for taking to the time to help us out this week.
I hope you guys enjoy!
1.) The Broncos are coming off a pretty bad outing against the Chiefs. I think I even saw one person describe it as “a bloodbath.” What’s the current mindset of the Broncos fan base and do they believe there’s greener pastures in their future?
There are some who believe the team should fire *fill in the blank* and there are some who believe the Broncos can still win nine of their last 10 games. It’s hard to ignore how bad a matchup the Chiefs are for this Broncos’ team right now, but Denver went winless into the Jets game before they “won” a potential Trevor Lawrence bowl with Brett Rypien.
Most believe better days are ahead because Von Miller and Courtland Sutton will return next year while Bradley Chubb and some of the young players are making the most of their opportunities. Right now I’d say it’s mostly kind of ”grin and bear whatever 2020 brings.”
2.) Like the Chargers, the Broncos have also been hit by the injury bug, including superstars Von Miller and Jurrell Casey, as well as budding wideout Courtland Sutton. How has the team adapted and which players have stepped up in their places?
I’ve never seen a more aggressive Vic Fangio defense. They may start to taper off in part to make a rookie quarterback read the field, but you’re going to see more man coverage than last year as well as both Alexander Johnson and Josey Jewell getting a chance to rush Justin Herbert. The return of A.J. Bouye last week will probably help to bolster a secondary where Bryce Callahan and Justin Simmons have balled out. Shelby Harris will be a problem. He’s playing like one of the best tackles in football.
During Chiefs’ week many in Broncos Country discussed if Tim Patrick was a WR1 in the NFL. Noah Fant’s banged up and trying to grit it out, but the passing game has run through most of the year. Jerry Jeudy and K.J. Hamler should continue to flash when the quarterback looks their way. As I write this Lindsay’s in concussion protocol, but if he can play it has a transformative impact on the running game. When Melvin Gordon’s in you’ll see mostly inside zone, outside zone, and a little duo. When 30 is in the game Dalton Risner, Graham Glasgow, and even Garett Bolles could become pullers to lead on runs at the edges.
3.) Drew Lock has thrown zero touchdowns compared to four interceptions over his last two starts against New England and Kansas City. Is Lock still the future of the franchise or are the Broncos expected to draft a new quarterback in 2021?
Ask me again in 10 games.
4.) On Paper, the secondary looks to be the strongest position group for the Broncos. Is the matchup between Justin Herbert and the likes of Justin Simmons and Co. going to be a deciding factor in Sunday’s contest? What other positions/players should the Chargers be worried about this week?
Defensively, I think it will come down to the pass rush. Fangio’s going to give Herbert some looks he hasn’t dealt with yet and is smart about when he dials up heat. If the Broncos can force LA into long yardage things will become unpredictable, which often leads to rookie mistakes.
That said, the game will come down to Drew Lock’s performance and how Shurmur can help his callow passer against the Chargers defense. He’s had a ton of issues with the blitz so it’ll be important to stay on track. They’ll try and run the ball early and often, mix in play action and boots and try to give Lock half field reads.
5.) What’s your quick summary of how you think the game will go, including your final score prediction?
I think the Broncos defense give Herbert his worst game as a pro while Drew Lock continues his ride through a blender.
Broncos 13 - Chargers 12