GIF Horse - Chopping down the Chiefs I can’t remember the last time Broncos Country has been so down while their team had a winning record Authentic Domata Peko Jersey
, but here we are. It’s not completely surprising given that Denver has beaten two teams that look ready to compete for the top of the draft in close fashion while losing a game in all facets to a Ravens team that looks ready to contend for the playoffs. There are a few positives to glean from the Baltimore game, but there’s hardly time for morale victories with Kansas City on the horizon. Let’s dive in.The Good - This rookie class looks special.Ravens were ready for Woods coverage calls from the start, but Bradley Chubb got home. Through 3 weeks Bradley Chubb has been a monster so far. He has put up pressure in spades and should only improve as he further acclimates to opposing offenses. His play hasn’t resulted in a ton of individual numbers so most casual fans and media outlets haven’t noticed, but he’s been really impressive.Courtland Sutton is beating people with sheer talent. Wait ‘til he figures out the nuances of the position. If you were paying attention back during the draft, Denver was looking hard at Will Hernandez but pivoted to a raw receiver out of SMU when the Giants took the apple of their eye. Since then Courtland Sutton has done nothing but look like the heir apparent to Demaryius Thomas as the too big, too fast monster. What’s really exciting is that he’s still just figuring it out. Barring injury, he should only get better as the year goes on.While Lindsay’s gotten all the love, Freeman has quietly been a very steady producer for the Musgrave offense. The Thunder back in the Broncos backfield, Royce Freeman did just about all he could with the chances provided to carry Denver to victory Sunday. He routinely flashes the kind of power, vision and burst that had me so high on him for my first GIF Horse. The Bad - In a word? Keenum.He had pressure in his face, but this is a bad read and terrible decision. The play above effectively ended the comeback attempt and while the situation demanded a sense of urgency Keenum would have been better served throwing this away. Easier said than done of course with pressure coming up the middle, but Keenum doesn’t have the kind of arm where a throw off his back foot is ever a good idea. It’s easy to point to the interception, but that alone fails to capture the struggle.Week 3 Quick Reads | Football OutsidersAs optimistic as I was going into the season, it’s fair to start to wonder if the questionable play will elevate or if Keenum is what he is.So far Keenum in 2018 is not even playing as well as TS did in 2017’s first quarter of the season. He could improve, every quarterback has iffy play from time to time but many of the interceptions have been bad decisions. Hardly the most efficient way to spend $20 million.Now as bad as that is, there’s a hidden bit of good beneath Keenum’s struggles: this offense has a lot of talent. Musgrave doesn’t need the QB to beat the world, he just has to make smarter decisions with the football and let the playmakers do the rest. Case showed with the Vikings he could potentially do that. If he wants to retire a Bronco as he said before the season started, it’s time he played within his capabilities. Take the check downs when they’re there and throw the ball away if the alternative is disaster.Denver Broncos 3rd and long: pecked to death by the Baltimore Ravens - Mile High ReportThe Ugly - Denver’s 3 fatal flaws 3 games in.This is what happens when stopping the run > defending against the pass in 2018. Baltimore’s tight ends caught 4 of the 5 passes thrown their way Sunday and could have done more damage if the game had been closer. Su’a Cravens’ absence has stopped being a convenient excuse for the woeful defense against tightends. Woods has to do more without compromising the rest of the integrity of the defense, but it remains to be seen if he can. Play action has also been a huge issue in every game so far this year. There are times this is combined with number 1, as in the play above. It isn’t just one player, which is a sign there’s a coaching issue. Since Joseph and Woods have come to Denver, the Broncos D has become a sandpit for opposing running backs, but it’s a passing league. Teams will gladly trade the running game for wide open receivers.The Broncos secondary lacks the talent to simply line up in Cover 1 and win every down. I’m already running out of ways to say Joe Woods needs to mix up his coverages. It was a key last week following the Raiders game and that noise will only get louder the longer Denver’s defensive coordinator throws an over-matched secondary into man coverage time and again. Harris has said it Youth Von Miller Jersey
, Joe Flacco basically said it. Joe Woods and Vance Joseph need to adjust. Before the Baltimore beat down, Denver’s hogs looked like one of the better units in the league. They were the only team in the league to have a line ranking among Football Outsiders best in Adjusted Line Yards and Adjusted Sack Rate. Then Suggs and Wink Martindale’s zone blitz’ exposed the unit as a work in progress. Keep in mind that Keenum’s struggles spill over into the sack rate a great deal, but as the tweet above illustrates: Bolles will still have his fair share of really bad plays, even if you forget his bear hug holds.The good news? It sounds like Chiefs edge rusher Dee Ford could be limited or absent Monday night. If he can’t go it will be a combination of rookie Breeland Speaks and second-year outside linebacker Tanoh Kpassagnon manning his spot. Denver’s going to need to score points to keep up with KC, so any little bit helps. Keeping up with Kansas CityPlay designs like this with the talent KC has on offense are all but impossible to stop. Every Broncos fan I’ve talked to since the season started has said some version of “the league will figure out the KC offense.” That may be true to an extent. Reid has always been harder to defend in September than November. At the same time, Reid has never had an offense with as much raw talent as his 2018 Chiefs. Nothing fancy, just 3 verticals to the left here. The problem defensive coordinators are currently having with Mahomes and the Chiefs is there’s too much speed on their offense to defend. Reid has always stressed defenses horizontally, which is a big part of the success Alex Smith had. Last year they began to push the ball downfield more and that’s continued into this season.There are 3 different receivers open during parts of this play. That’s insane. What’s changed is that between Tyreek Hill, Sammy Watkins, and Travis Kelce, Kansas City has so much speed that few if any secondaries can truly bottle them up. Then you add Mahomes’ arm and willingness to go deep? It’s a lethal combination.As I alluded to for Horse Tracks yesterday, the Broncos are among the worst teams in the league against deep passes, tight ends and throws to the middle of the field.They aren’t going to stop Mahomes. The question is: can they slow him down enough to keep up? When Mahome’s been taken down he often has underneath options he never saw. There is little doubt Mahomes will become more adept at finding his check downs when faced with threatening pass rush, but his affinity for bombs has left him susceptible to blind spots. Mahomes is always looking for the home run, which leaves him missing singles and doubles at times. Now it’s not as if he hasn’t found the hot reads more often than not. He has, but if there’s a hole in his game that can be exploited that seems to be it. It could be incredibly frustrating for fans but Woods may be wise to move closer to an Oakland game plan where he gives up the underneath in order to force Kansas City to complete a million passes rather than one. It will require a few wrinkles sprinkled in to keep the Chiefs off balance, but that would provide Von Miller and the Orange Rush more opportunities to cause an errant throw. Don’t be surprised if Mahomes winds up in empty as a way to combat this. Reid and the Chiefs used this to devastating effect against the Steelers and has sprinkled it into every game so far. The pass rush has to get home if they see it Monday. Houston looked like his old self at times last week. On offense the game plan should be simple. Keep Justin Houston quiet and play keep away ball. It won’t be easy, as they’re better than they’ve been given credit for so far. Kendall Fuller and the secondary has done an admirable job minus Eric Berry while Chris Jones has flashed along the defensive line. Where the Chiefs are weakest is their run defense out of sub packages and defending against the pass in the intermediate areas. It’d be wise for Musgrave and the Broncos to fully utilize their run game out of 11 personnel groupsThat means grinding out the clock with Phillip Lindsay and Royce Freeman as well as managing the down and distance to stay on the field. Keenum could quiet his critics if he does just that. With news coming out that Vic Fangio will be the new head coach of the Denver Broncos and Gary Kubiak will coordinate the offense, I continued my look at Denver’s roster. What players mean the most to the team. Obviously some of these players could move up and down based on how the schemes change. That means this is as much art as science, but to be as transparent as possible I wanted to lay out how I made my list. There are 3 main aspects I considered.1. Their value to this year’s team and past performance.2. Positional value3. Salary compared to both past & expected future performance.All three factors are important, but obviously this isn’t an exact science, so I look forward to seeing how Broncos Country disagrees with me.Check out last week’s GIF Horse to see players 45-35 here.34. Tramaine Brock - CornerbackWhen he was healthy, Brock had some serious ups and downs last season.In his favor was the fact that he only allowed 6.6 yards per pass on throws in his direction. He also missed 4 games and parts of others because of injuries Womens Adam Gotsis Jersey
, which is the story of his career really. Just 30 years old, it wouldn’t be out of the question for him to return, especially if Roby is not resigned. I’ll be looking at more Fangio tape as the offseason continues to get a better idea how Brock may fit the new system, but one thing stands out. While Prince Amukamara and Kyle Fuller played like stars for the 2018 Bears, Fangio has made hay on defense with less than stellar cornerback play in the past. An aging Carlos Rogers and Tarrell Brown were manning the corners for much of his stint with the 49ers. His last year in San Francisco, former Bronco Perrish Cox and Chris Culliver combined for 9 interceptions. 33. Max Garcia - GuardPlayed a little more than 20% of the Broncos snaps before tearing his ACL in November, but was really disappointing when he did. Garcia has had a fortunate career path so far, he’s been better than free agents busts like Menelik Watson and Donald Stephenson, which has masked the fact that he’s also pretty mediocre. Broncos should move on this offseason, but if he returns he has experience playing both guard spots. He’s also pretty mobile for a guard and did start some games as a rookie when Kubiak was head coach. If he’s resigned, he’ll probably find himself in a fight with Sam Jones over the summer. He needed help on the block, but it was a lot to ask Garcia to wall off Allen Bailey. 32. Tim Patrick - ReceiverPatrick is an upside guy who showed flashes of a bright future in 2018. He’s the kind of size/speed prospect you hope your team takes a shot on every couple of seasons with hopes that proper coaching and health luck will lead to a steal or two. If there was one player to benefit from Emmanuel Sanders injury it was Tim Patrick, who’s role increased exponentially. He made the most of it: 82% of his receptions and 76% of his receiving yards came after the Bengals game. 31. Elijah Wilkinson - Offensive LinemanOne of the Broncos swing lineman before the season began, Wilkinson was kicked inside to guard after injuries derailed Matt Paradis, Ronald Leary, and Max Garcia’s seasons.The opportunity proved fruitful for Wilkinson, as he put out some really solid tape. Individually, the 3rd-year pro isn’t anything special. As a true tackle, he’s heavier and taller than all of the Broncos other interior lineman, but he also lacks the movement skills they do. Generally speaking, an offensive line as a unit can survive one weak link and if it’s Wilkinson the Broncos are in good shape. Ideally, he returns to the 2019 squad as a more experienced swing lineman for his efforts last year. 30.Jeff Heuerman - Tight EndIf the former Buckeye posted a 49-564-4 line in 2018, he would be a bit higher on this list. Alas those are the 5th-year pros career numbers after injuries have limited him to a grand total of 37 games as in the NFL. If I were managing the Broncos I would probably move on from Heuerman in 2019. By all accounts this is a loaded draft class at tight end and Heuerman’s shown nothing worth breaking the bank for. He’s a serviceable dump-off receiver and blocker http://www.thebroncosfootballauthentic.com/jared-veldheer-jersey-au...
, but don’t let his game against the Houston Texans fool you; he has yet to show he can be a true X-factor against a team that adequately defends tight ends. If he’s retained the cost is worth a bit of scrutiny. 29. Jake Butt - Tight EndIf you wanted to swap 29 and 30 you’d hear no protests from me. Both have been injury prone below average tight ends so far. Heuerman has obviously produced more at the NFL level, but if he plays for the Broncos in 2019 it will be on a new contract. Meanwhile Butt has two years remaining on the rookie deal he signed when Elway drafted him in the fifth round out of Michigan.28. Andy Janovich - FullbackThere may not be a Bronco more impacted by the news that Gary Kubiak will return to the call the offensive shots. Throughout his coaching career Kubiak’s used a lot of 2 back personnel sets. In the past that meant using an H-back at times, such as James Casey with the Texans, but Jano is likely to see the field in a Kubes O more than the 200 times he did last season. Another thing that could be good news for the former Cornhusker is how Kubiak makes the most of his fullbacks. He’ll rarely be asked to bash straight on in an iso-style lead block. Instead, Kubiak will use more outside zone than Musgraves did, which will lead to angle blocks. 27. Isaac Yiadom - CornerbackThis is an optimistic ranking for Yiadom, with the hopes that he continues to improve as he did over the course of the season. When pressed into duty against the Ravens, Yiadom looked as bad as Brendan Langley did in 2017. So it should come as a bit of a surprise to see that the final numbers had the Broncos as average or better against all receivers by DVOA. They were the best D in the league against tertiary receivers, but also 11th against WR1s and 17 against WR2s. All of those numbers are relevant to Yiadom as he found himself moving around a bunch with the injuries to players ahead of him on the depth chart.Additionally, Yiadom’s charting numbers showed significant growth: He averaged 7 yards allowed on passes where he was the primary defender according to Sports Info Solutions and plays where the offense attacked him were “successful” only half the time. (SIS defines their success rate as 45 percent of yardage on first down, 60 percent on second down, or 100 percent on third down). Not bad for a raw third round pick who couldn’t cover a rock with a blanket in the early going.Flacco went after Yiadom early and often in week 3. To be perfectly honest, all that leaves me intrigued enough that I hope to go back and watch his games later this offseason. Let me know if that’s something you’d be interested in Broncos Country. 26. Domata Peko - Interior Defensive LinePeko is a player I had some trouble ranking, through no fault of his own. The Broncos nose tackle had another solid year in 2018, but without going back over the tape at length it’s hard to know how much the decline of the interior run defense is on him compared to players around him. It’s something on my list, but those questions combined with his age and expiring contract left me conflicted at 26. With a loaded draft and free agent class, as well as Shelby Harris on the roster, Peko may be number crunched. 25. Billy Turner - Offensive LinemanWould you be surprised if I told you that Turner played more snaps than all but 3 Broncos in 2018?It probably shouldn’t. I’ll admit I was completely wrong on Turner, who I thought was a surprise survivor of the final roster cuts at the end of the preseason. He began the season as a reserve tackle but wound up with playing time at both guard spots and filling in when Jared Veldheer was injured. While he had his fair share of troubles against top tier edge rushers at tackle, he looked very good inside. He even earned praise from Pro Football Focus for his week 11 game against the Los Angeles Chargers. Turner should be a Bronco in 2019. Going forward, Turner is an unrestricted free agent that Elway and the Broncos front office should explore resigning. His experience along the line of scrimmage would be a valuable commodity with the Broncos offensive line again in flux with Ronald Leary’s injury as well as Veldheer and Matt Paradis’ contract situations. Only 27, his best years should be ahead of him. What do you think Broncos Country?