Broncos were 0-7 under head coach Vic Fangio coming into the 2021 season opener against the New York Giants. After sound performances on both offense and defense, they sit 1-0.Embed from Getty Images
As has been reiterated ad nauseam since the pre-season started. The Denver Broncos after 2 years under Fangio had yet to notch a single win in September, going 0-7. Well, the narrative is officially broken after a 27-13 drubbing of the home team New York Giants in the Meadowlands. This building has been a place of horrors for Denver since the 1998 squad ended their attempt at a perfect season on an Amani Toomer 37-yard TD catch with mere seconds left on the clock. The Denver Broncos were 1-2 in games played in New Jersey, regardless of the stadium or name. Also regardless of if the team opposite of them was any good. The sole win had come under the guidance of Peyton Manning and his record-breaking 2013 offense. The ’98 Giants team ended 6-10, 2005 was 11-5. The Denver Broncos had only won a singular other game as the visitor to the Meadowlands since 1972, a 14-9 hard-hitting win with the last iteration of the Orange Crush defense, and pre Elway-era. So Teddy Bridgewater did something even the Duke of Denver couldn’t do, beat the Giants on the road.
Teddy actually has as many total wins (1) as Elway had against the Giants regardless of the venue in his entire 16-year career. I have not been shy about my preference for Drew Lock to be the starting quarterback of this year’s Broncos. But Teddy helped to ally some fears, such as the fumbling issues that have plagued him since his rookie campaign. He came out of the game with barely a smudge on his jersey, and even when he faced pressure he showed he knew how to keep two hands on the ball. This was his biggest flaw outside of the lack of arm strength. That second flaw showed itself on multiple throws. Not the least of which is this should-be touchdown for some reason everyone blames K.J. Hamler for. Watch the highlight linked titled “KJ HAMLER DROPS A WIDE-OPEN TD FROM BRIDGEWATER”. And you will see how Hamler pretty much had to come to a complete stop, turn around, and jump for the off-target duck of a throw. I know Peyton Manning said, “I had a lot of wobbly balls go for TDs”. Teddy is not Peyton, not by any stretch when it comes to accuracy and ball placement. But one thing he does emulate is the General alter ego of Peyton.
This video of an interaction between Von Miller and Teddy Bridgewater I believe encapsulates why Teddy was the choice over Drew Lock courtesy of the Denver Broncos Social Media Team:
However, I do not back down from my statements that Teddy and his lack of arm strength will ultimately be the Broncos’ undoing. He got lucky on multiple plays where, against better defenses, the ball will end up in the opponents’ hands instead of the ground or some highlight-reel catch his receiver bailed him out on. Watch this highlight reel at the 2:50 mark. A better defense with more speed, and that floater is an interception. Also what you won’t see in any highlight reel are the 8 incompletions he had where they were grossly underthrown, either hitting the dirt or the back of a defender before getting to his target. You will also notice in the highlight reel, not a single throw more than 15 yards past the line of scrimmage become a completion. I understand Peyton and Tom Brady won this way for years. But again, Peyton or Brady Bridgewater is not. The first test that will truly tell us how far Teddy can take this team comes in week 3 vs Baltimore in Denver. While Teddy deserves some praise for his debut line of this:
But as with all players, I give a no-nonsense take on what I see. And what I saw was a limited QB with a ton of talent around him that could cover up for his shortcomings. I love the leadership and veteran moxy Bridgewater brings, but those traits only help you so much on the field. He plays in an outdoor stadium in a northern city known for its horrible winter weather. He struggled to push the ball downfield on a sunny day in the windless Meadowlands. What do you think happens in November in Philly, or December in Denver, or Kansas City? There is plenty of time between then and now for Drew to regain the starting role, but as long as Teddy keeps playing like this, that won’t happen. So we are most likely to find out.
That’s enough about the QB, not like they don’t get enough talking space right? The next 2 things that stuck out to me were the pass defense and the rushing offense. I do not get how the same people that qualified Drew Lock’s 80-yarder in the pre-season as a way to discount his numbers against Minnesota, are saying the opposite of the 70-yard run by Melvin Gordon. Without that 70-yard run, he has 31 yards on 10 carries, a 3.1 yard-per-carry average. Javonte Williams actually led the team in carries with 14 for 45 yards, a 3.2 YPC. The Denver Defense was lights out with 3 4th-down stops in the Giants Redzone to allow Denver to keep a commitment to the run game. If they are playing an offense like Kansas City, I doubt they get that luxury to get to that 70-yard romp.
Here is that 70-yarder courtesy of the Denver Broncos Social Media Team:
Next up is the pass defense, which allowed Daniel Jones to almost match Teddy throw for throw. They allowed Sterling Shepherd to go for 113 yards and 7 catches. Shepherd along with Darius Slayton and Kenny Golladay averaged at least 16 yards per catch. The pass defense was supposed to be the strength of this D, and on a day where they did everything else right, this sticks out like a sore thumb. Jones didn’t have his best-receiving option in Evan Engram due to injury, yet he was still able to put up this line with the only blemish being a fumble caused by Josey Jewel. Without that fumble, his and Teddy’s QB rating would be almost identical.
I don’t care how many people try to convince me otherwise, Daniel Jones is not an elite QB. He looks a lot like a top-notch backup that can come in and win you about as many as he will lose. His ball security issues are well known, yet the defense only forced 2 turnovers and no interceptions. No one gets to use the excuse of “well Denver had a big lead and it forced New York to throw a bunch”, look at the QB stats in this article. Jones only had one more attempt than Teddy. The positive of this wart is it’s correctable. A miscommunication of who had Slayton when passed by the corner was what led to his 42-yarder. That play and the 32-yard catch by Shepherd were almost a third of Daniel Jones’ total yardage passing. So I can’t worry that this will be a long-term issue, Fangio will have this secondary ready for the New York Jets. The communication should get smoother as this back-end gels, and the tackling, which was good, will get even better.
Now that we are in a good space, now for some more good feels from Sunday afternoon.
Von Miller is BACK! Videos courtesy of the Denver Broncos Social Media Team:
Von ended his day with 3 tackles (3 solos), all for a loss, and the Broncos’ only 2 sacks on the day. When he wasn’t dragging down Jones and company in the backfield, he was making Daniel believe he was actually in a pit of lions. Miller lived in the backfield during this game, blowing up any play sent his way. He and the d-line of Shelby Harris, Dre’mont Jones, and Mike Purcell gave Saquon Barkly a rude homecoming present in the form of 26 yards on 10 carries with 0 TDs. Daniel Jones was the Giants leading rusher with 27 yards on 6 carries with the Giants lone rushing TD that came with :00’s on the game clock.
This was a feel-good win for #BroncosCountry, and they should enjoy it with the dearth of celebration in recent September’s. But the talk of a Super Bowl destined roster is premature, to say the least, those talks shouldn’t start before December. We have plenty to talk about and cheer about between then and now. So party Denver, this feeling may not be as common as we all hope.Embed from Getty Images