DENVER — The world of suck is actually a black hole.
“That was a statement I regret making,” Vic Fangio said late Thursday.
Does he regret taking this Broncos job?
No more than the 76,000-plus regret paying hard-earned bucks to witness rock bottom for the Broncos. The Chiefs embarrassed the Broncos and their diehard fans, 30-6, inside Not Empowered Whatsoever Field at Mile High.
It was Kansas City’s widest victory margin in Denver since 1966 — coincidentally, the decade that produced the Chiefs' other eight-game winning against the Broncos. Been a while.
“To not be, ultimately, competitive out there...” Fangio continued.
Any goodwill the new coach collected during a brief winning streak vanished into the night sky. Three decades in, Fangio's big moment, for the football world to see, and his team could not have appeared more un-ready for the stage. The Broncos face-planted, allowing more sacks of Joe Flacco (nine) than they scored points.
As Broncos players skedaddled out of the locker room and into a long weekend at a speed they rarely showcased on the field, quarterback Drew Lock rocked a backpack he was gifted at the NFL Draft. The rook needs to play ASAP. Find out what the Broncos have in Lock, in case they needn’t waste a top-10 draft pick on a QB.
The locals booed at halftime, in the third quarter ... but not in the fourth, as most had left for the parking lot or a Light Rail station or the nearest bar, perhaps to watch Avalanche (5-0-1) or Nuggets (4-0 preseason) highlights. They didn’t boo loud enough. No one could.
With ineptitude for the ages, the Broncos showed just how far Super Bowl 50 is in the rear-view mirror. What is most disturbing — it’s a long list — is how poorly Fangio and his coaching staff handled the spotlight. Fangio described a brutal, almost hilarious attempt at a fake punt as “botched.” (Why is special teams coach Tom McMahon still here?) He described going for a 2-point conversion — in the first quarter! — as “one of those analytical things.”
“I don’t know if I’ll do it the next time,” Fangio said.
Yet somehow the incompetence of the Broncos was overshadowed by one unforgivable decision by Andy Reid and the Chiefs. Told you so. If the Chiefs were smart like you guys and had read Gazette.com, they would know that super-quarterback Patrick Mahomes should not have been anywhere near the field on Thursday, like I wrote last Sunday. Quarterback Jesus entered with a bad ankle and left in the second quarter with a knee injury. Why, Chiefs? Why?
“I’ve never seen anything like that,” Broncos defensive lineman Shelby Harris said. “His knee was all the way to the side.”
We have seen something like that. All the time in the NFL, in fact. In 2015, the Colts played Andrew Luck with myriad injuries. The Broncos lacerated Luck’s kidney. Now he’s on a beach somewhere, retired at 30. And isn’t a franchise messing with his health why Kawhi Leonard is no longer with the San Antonio Spurs? Mahomes is a free agent after the 2020 season. Ahem.
NFL coaches play for the short term at the risk of the long view. While the Broncos showed how far they are from Super Bowl 50, the Chiefs showed how they’ve gone 50 years without appearing in a Super Bowl. The Chiefs with backup QB Matt Moore still beat the Broncos 20-0. Why was a hobbling Mahomes ever out there?
“I wish him the best,” Broncos cornerback Chris Harris Jr. said while asking for an update on the reigning MVP (he was told there wasn’t one).
Maybe you go decades back with the Broncos. I go four, and this was the most embarrassing performance I can remember from one of their teams. We are not alone. Sandy Clough, the peerless talk host at Denver’s 104.3 The Fan, said late Thursday it was "the most humiliating and embarrassing loss" he’s seen here.
There's no better source than Sandy.
Primetime, at home, win streak in hand, against an AFC West rival fielding a backup QB for over three quarters? And without a facemask penalty flagged on Kansas City's Frank Clark to extend a rare drive in the first quarter, the Broncos would have gone scoreless.
“It’s the whole offensive scheme that got...” Fangio said, stopping himself.
Leveled. Smothered. Embarrassed.
Start Lock, the rookie quarterback, after the Week 10 bye. Change John Elway’s mind, and make the high-priced veterans available via trade. Von Miller played, I think, and did not register one single tackle. Play for next season.
There’s no coming back from a black hole.