Remember when the Patriots were 2-2 and everyone was freaking out that Tom Brady was too old and this was the end of Belichick, Brady, and the Pats? Or when the Broncos were 3-1 and everyone thought they were contending for a Super Bowl? Yeah, me neither. Because nobody had either of those thoughts after New England went into Denver and smashed the Broncos 41-16 in primetime.
Denver gave up 51 to Philly last week and 41 to the Pats last night. And it might have actually been uglier than the scoreboard indicated, if that’s possible. Because Denver got off to the start they would’ve wanted. They forced a punt on New England’s first possession. And then Isaiah McKenziee muffs the punt.
Exactly what the Broncos couldn’t afford. If you’re trying to stop the bleeding, the last thing you want is your defense to force a three-and-out and then to fumble the punt. Because two plays later, Rex Burkhead was in the end zone.
But Brock Osweiler and the offense bounced right back. Brock hit Emanuel Sanders for 31 yards and eventually ended up with a field goal on their opening possession. Only for this to happen on the ensuing kickoff:
Two special teams plays, two complete disasters. I thought that fumbling was the last thing that Denver could afford, but I was wrong. Because giving up a 103-yard kickoff was far, far worse. You can’t do that against any NFL team, but especially against Brady and the Patriots because they will kill you for it and New England did just that. Brady was 25 of 34 for 3 touchdowns and a 125 rating.
Oh, and if that wasn’t enough, in the second quarter, New England blocked a punt. That’s a fumbled punt that led to a touchdown, a kickoff return for a touchdown, and a blocked punt that led to a field goal. That’s 17 points worth of special teams blunders and that’s the Gordie Howe hat trick of sucking on special teams.
And that was just the start. They almost dropped a kickoff and had 12 men on the field during a Patriots punt that gave New England the ball back, which led to another Patriots touchdown. So the issues in Denver have gone from being a quarterback problem, to a quarterback and defense problem, to a quarterback, defense, and special teams problem. I’m not going to say that the QB room is infecting the special teams room, but I’m guessing it’s not helping.
Osweiler and the offense actually hung with the Patriots for a while. Kind of. Sort of. Almost. But Denver’s special teams were just so bad that it was a blowout.
As Justin Simmons pointed out, “You can’t give up 24 points on special teams and expect to win. It’s unacceptable. We hurt ourselves more on special teams than defense.”
And overall, morale is at an all-time low in Denver. Just ask Derek Wolfe: “I think we stink… It’s just sad. It’s real sad. It’s sad that we went from a championship-caliber team to a team that stinks and nobody respects us.”
We stink. You know it’s bad when a player is saying that. He’s not looking for the silver lining, or trying to spin it or going with something lame, we’ll just watch the film, and get back to work. No. None of that. He’s just flat out saying “We stink.”
And the crazy thing is, he’s right. This is a team loaded with Pro Bowlers and nobody respects them right now. Want crazier? That the Broncos lost by 25 and it wasn’t Brock Osweiler’s fault? Or that the Broncos have lost five straight, including one to the New York Giants?!?
Think about that for a second. The Giants just lost to the 49ers. They’re 1-8 and the backpages in New York are a festival of headlines calling for Ben McAdoo to be fired, and they beat the Broncos. By double digits. That’s how bad it’s become. That’s how bad that Broncos are right now.
It’s so bad, that if you’re a Broncos fan, you might actually think about tanking to get a higher pick. From top 5 caliber to top 5 draft pick caliber in a matter of weeks. That’s how far Denver’s fallen and I’m not sure they’re done falling. The ref needs to stop this fight before they’re seriously injured or even killed because it’s pretty clear, these dudes are no longer capable of defending themselves, and everyone they get into ring with is standing right in the middle of it, landing haymakers. There’s not a more disappointing team in the league right now than the Broncos.
I’d say the Giants, but even they beat Denver.