The Broncos were in a blue state Sunday.
Maybe they would have been better off playing in London, where the game with the Falcons originally was scheduled. Instead, in the “lucky" all-blue uniforms in Atlanta, the Broncos were dejected and rejected.
Behind 27-6 at the end of the third quarter, they couldn’t make another miracle happen despite three touchdowns in the final 13:15. The comeback to 34-27 felt like an empty suit.
At the midway juncture of 2020, with a 3-5 record, the season is just another lost cause. The Broncos won’t finish .500, and they won’t participate in the playoffs for the fifth consecutive year, and they won’t pass “Go" and collect anything. This is deja vu 2006-2010 or any five seasons in a row during the 1960s.
The Broncos are headed in the direction of 5-11, 6-10 or 7-9 again. Blame it on the pathetic first two quarters of games, a youthful roster, injuries to impactful veterans and ineptness of replacements in the starting lineup, the coronavirus adversely affecting players and coaches and practices and even the revised schedule. Or blame it on the bossa nova or the Drew Lock Dance. As coach Vic Fangio, Lock and Justin Simmons said late Sunday afternoon in Georgia, there are no vindications. Every NFL team and household in America has been struck by the pandemic. “That’s not excuses. It’s the reality," Simmons said.
The sage safety also proposed that if the Broncos are to improve in the first half of games and the second half of the season, “we’ve got to hit the ground running."
He didn’t mean it literally, but perhaps he should have. The Broncos can’t produce minus-1 yard rushing in the opening quarter, as they did against the Falcons. They can’t average three points in the first 15 minutes of eight games and be dragged down before the interlude.
And they can’t play without starting cornerbacks A.J. Bouye and Bryce Callahan, or without the three defensive linemen who started this season.
Missing the hurt Bouye and Callahan (a pregame verdict), the Broncos were coerced into relying on rookies Michael Ojemudia and Essang Bassey and backup Davontae Harris. They were treated poorly, like rental cars, by Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan and his receivers. Julio Jones turned Ojemudia every which way but right on a touchdown catch. Harris was a pass interference call waiting to occur, and Bassey, an undrafted free agent, can’t see the (Wake) Forest for the trees. Fangio said he “tried different combinations in the first half," but they were seared by Matty Ice.
And the defensive front of DeShawn Williams, Sylvester Williams and Dre’Mont Jones weren’t starting or on the team a few weeks ago.
The offense was offensive early and often until Lock turned on late and regularly for the second straight week. Of course, he was the leading passer with 25-of-48 for 313 yards, two touchdowns and an interception on a throw Drew said he has been completing since he was a kid in the front yard.
He also was the leading runner with 47 yards on seven scrambles.
Which left Phillip Lindsay and Melvin Gordon III with 41 yards total – a combined average of fewer than 3 yards per try.
This is what you get this season.
Fangio said the Broncos are progressing, yet acknowledged there is no consolation prize in losing.
The belief among Broncos bloggers and buffoons was the Broncos would certainly win against the Falcons, underachievers who fired their coach and hadn’t prevailed in a home game. However, they have now triumphed in three of their past four.
But others who were confident they would win in Georgia recently didn’t.
On the positive front, the Broncos have at least 40 players on the active roster, the practice squad and the injured list who are in their first, second and third NFL seasons. The front office and the coaching staff should be emphasizing and starting as many of them as possible in the remaining eight games and hope they develop into experienced professionals by 2021.
Perhaps the Broncos should consider an orange jersey, blue pants combo next season. I’m kidding, but, seriously, they should dump the blue-on-blue blend, which has produced an 0-2 mark this season.
The Broncos were bluer than blue Sunday.