The most memorable image of the Broncos’ 30-13 collapse to the Philadelphia Eagles at home Sunday will be quarterback Teddy Bridgewater showing no interest in tackling Darius Slay during an eventual 83-yard fumble return touchdown.
A close second will be everything else that happened just a week after the Broncos toyed with the Dallas Cowboys.
The Broncos scored one touchdown in five red-zone trips. Allowed 214 rushing yards. Converted one of 11 third-down chances. Had a field goal attempt blocked. And never led.
“We set ourselves up in prime position to hit this bye (week) on a hot streak and then close out the season with pretty much all division games except for two,” safety Justin Simmons said.
And the Broncos (5-5) spit the bit, losing as a home favorite for the third time this season and losing by at least 10 points for the 12th time in coach Vic Fangio’s tenure.
“I don’t think it was a lack of focus, I really don’t,” said Fangio, his seat now back ablaze. “I think we were ready to play.”
The Broncos certainly weren’t ready to capitalize in scoring position, which gave them no chance to rally after the Eagles took a 20-10 lead at halftime.
The Broncos ran 15 red zone plays … and gained 11 yards.
“It just (stinks) because this was a winnable game,” said running back Melvin Gordon, whose fourth-down fumble led to Slay’s touchdown as the third quarter expired. “We had the momentum and would give it back. We gave them life and if you give teams life in the NFL, they make plays and you lose games.”
Up next is two weeks’ worth of self-reflection leading into a critical Nov. 28 game against the Los Angeles Chargers.
A glass-is-half-full view: The Broncos have their best 10-game record of Fangio’s three years (3-7 in 2019 and 4-6 last year), they will play meaningful games in late November and at least early December, expect to get outside linebacker Bradley Chubb back from injured reserve and have five AFC West games left.h2 data-curated-ids="" data-relation-type="automatic-primary-tag"">
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A glass-is-half-empty view: Every … other … thing. The confidence they were progressing offensively? Hello, pot hole. The vibe they had figured out their issues stopping the run? Hello, speed bump. And the tepid confidence that they were done making weekly special teams gaffes? Hello, slippery slope.
Realistically, the Broncos deserve their .500 record. They have earned the wins (four by double-digits and each by at least seven points) and ditto for the defeats (three by double-digits). They are consistently erratic.
“We missed an opportunity, completely,” defensive end Dre’Mont Jones said. “We dropped the ball, straight up.”
The Broncos are 12th in the AFC; only seven teams make the postseason. It means they better get hot post-bye and also receive help since they would lose the head-to-head tiebreakers against Baltimore, Cleveland and Pittsburgh.
But right now, all this team is capable of is being a tease. Start 3-0? Lose their next four. Win two straight to climb above .500? Turn in the stinker against Philadelphia.
Despite Philadelphia’s mostly crisp performance, the Broncos were lamenting self-inflicted mistakes, particularly in the red zone. It started well — Gordon’s one-yard touchdown cut the lead to 10-7.
After that, disappointment.
Second quarter: A 64-yard catch-and-run by tight end Albert Okwuegbunam (the Broncos’ longest completion of the year) and a penalty gave the Broncos first down from the 4-yard line. Incompletions by Bridgewater sandwiched a one-yard run by Javonte Williams. Kicker Brandon McManus was good from 21 yards to tie the game at 10-10.
Third quarter: The Broncos used a 26-yard catch by receiver Courtland Sutton and 20-yard carry by Williams to reach the Eagles’ 10. Incompletion, four-yard loss and 10-yard gain from the 14 preceded a blocked field goal.
Third quarter: The Broncos slowly worked their way down the field. Williams’ 20-yard touchdown run was negated by tight end Eric Saubert’s holding penalty and his seven-yard carry to the Eagles’ 4 was canceled by Okwuegbunam’s illegal block in the back. McManus kicked a 28-yard field goal to cut the lead to seven (20-13).
The offense had a garbage time red zone trip also result in no points. They didn’t even give Fangio a chance to be aggressive.
“I was going to go for it on fourth down on a lot of those but (the offense) never got quite close enough,” he said. “We just didn’t play good in the red zone. Give them credit. The penalties were on us and we couldn’t make a play down there.”
Said Okwuegbunam: “A couple of times, it was execution and just being better all-around and blocking your guy and finishing the play. The other times, it was penalties. We didn’t give ourselves a chance with the fumble and penalties, myself included.”
Every player and coach need to include themselves as being a part of the problem and the solution. The goal now is try and stem the tide of injuries, win the rest of their home games (Chargers, Detroit, Cincinnati and Kansas City) and steal at least one of their road games (Chiefs, Raiders and Chargers).
“Ultimately, we have to fix what’s fixable from a learning standpoint and move forward,” Fangio said. “We have to get past this and we have seven big games left and have to take each one as its own entity.”
Problems with prosperity
A week after dominating the Cowboys in a 30-16 road win, the Broncos laid an egg with a 30-13 loss to the Eagles at Empower Field. It’s become a familiar theme for the franchise under head coach Vic Fangio, with the Broncos 1-4 in games directly following a win by 14 or more points. A breakdown:
Source : https://www.denverpost.com/2021/11/14/broncos-eagles-nfl-week-10-analysis/1176