CARSON, Calif. • A quick Uber ride from here — quick by local traffic standards — a few hundred dedicated runners participated Saturday morning in the Manhattan Beach Hometown 10K.
Good times were had by all. They sweated and sped down the boardwalk with only the threat of beach sand seeping into their sneakers. Some swore, and still had a better time than Broncos fans. If the Broncos lose to Philip Rivers (of course it’s him, twisting the knife) and the Chargers here at the Dignity Health Sports Park soccer stadium Sunday, they will be 0-5 for the first time in team history. The Broncos have fallen off their longboard, wave after wave pummeling their heads, hearts and decades of winning tradition.
Bradley Chubb feels your pain. But rather than wallowing in the misery of a season-ending knee injury, the 23-year-old star opted for leadership.
“It sucks right now, but it’s going to make me a better person,” Chubb said in his first public comments since sustaining a partially torn anterior cruciate ligament — and playing through it — against the Jaguars.
Can we have another dozen like Chubb? The state of the Broncos is no joke. Then there’s Chubb. Instead of looking around with his arms raised after getting beat on another pass play (Chris Harris Jr.) or throwing his helmet and a fit on the sideline (Emmanuel Sanders), Chubb responded to the bum-luck injury like the future CEO of the Broncos locker room he is.
Seriously, get a load of the perspective on this guy: “It sucks right now but it’s going to make me a better person. I’m looking forward to this journey. I’m looking forward to still being around this team, still being the guy and the leader that I need to be.”
He added, “Just because I’m sidelined with an injury doesn’t mean I can’t be Bradley Chubb.”
Dang. If a young man whose season is over can spread cheer, who are we to frown around? With No. 55 as inspiration, here are a few ways the 0-4 Broncos still can benefit from this season:
• Retire “death by inches” until further notice. Talk about false advertising. All four losses had a death-by-inches turning point. Raiders game, an ill-timed holding penalty and shoddy special teams. Bears game, foul holding penalties on Garett Bolles. Packers game, holding flag on Emmanuel Sanders. Jaguars game, blown pass coverage on the final possession. “I’m pretty sure if we get in another situation like that we’re going to hold it down,” Chris Harris Jr. said.
The rest of us are pretty sure the Broncos didn’t cure death by inches. They doubled down on it.
• Welcome Brittany Bowlen with a comfy office at UCHealth Training Center. If the 29-year-old indeed is the heir to the throne, get on with it. The Broncos expect Brittany begins work at Dove Valley, in an unspecified role, within the next month, a source said. Good, progress. The instability is as uncomfortable as the losing.
• No doubt about it, the loss of Chubb is a gut punch. I’d argue he’s been Denver’s best player. But one man’s absence is another man’s big chance. That’s where Malik Reed comes in.
Reed reminds Von Miller of someone he used to know: Shaq Barrett, another undrafted pass-rusher, whose nine sacks and three forced fumbles make him a top candidate for NFL defensive player of the year.
“I often talk about Shaq, like, ‘Malik, you can be that too. You can have that type of success too,’” Miller said. “Shaq played behind us just like Malik is doing now.”
• Months before the Nuggets fired George Karl, the coach told me, “Once the pitchforks come out, your fate has been decided in the court of public opinion.” True. Unless it’s John Elway, the exception to most rules. Sorry, friends. The Broncos aren’t firing John Elway, now or later or ever. And they shouldn’t invite more turnover when turnover’s all they’ve had of late.
What they must do is beef up the NFL’s smallest scouting department that’s working alongside him. Back-to-back promising rookie classes reversed a trend: Chubb, Courtland Sutton, Dalton Risner, Royce Freeman and Phillip Lindsay are a good place to start a rebuild. But their free agency picks and quarterback evaluations need more educated eyeballs.
• Speaking of, Sutton is shaping into the real deal. With 22 catches, Sutton’s already halfway to his rookie total in just four games. And it’s an eye-opener his best games come on the road: 120 yards at Oakland, 87 at Green Bay. Feed the man, starting Sunday against the Chargers and the league’s 30th-ranked third-down ‘D.’
• Start rookie quarterback Drew Lock after the Week 10 bye. This season’s cooked. Why not see what’s simmering on the back burner? Yahoo! Sports mocks six quarterbacks going in the first round of the 2020 draft. If the losing holds, the Broncos will have a top-five pick and a QB in their sights. They will tank for Tua (Tagovailoa), bomb for (Jake) Fromm or something-something for Oregon QB Justin Herbert, who next Saturday opposes the CU Buffs. It would help to know if they should be locked on Lock.