No Toughness, No Desire … No Answers


Another game, another blowout.

Another oddly consistent display of  maddening inconsistency. This, boys and girls, falls at the feet of  a coach who’s in over his head. Despite all his good intentions and his obvious enthusiasm, Denver Broncos head coach Josh McDaniels was simply outclassed by a loud-mouth Phillip Rivers and Norv Turner, who, if anything, has proven to be the quintessential underachiever as an NFL head coach.

Oh, and Knowshon Moreno, despite an opening drive where it looked like he might actually have shaken the one-t0uch, one tackle syndrome, is back to his usual self–an overhyped hack with a knack for tw0-yard plunges after a spirited dance or two in the backfield.

We’re left again to conclude that our beloved Donkeys just aren’t that good. Heartbreaking, isn’t it?

And it’s a tricky balancing act. You get the feeling, without a momentum-shifting fake punt (and, folks, let’s be honest–who DIDN’T see that coming from the worst special teams unit in football?), the Broncos might have jumped on San Diego just like they jumped on Kansas City the week before. Playing from ahead certainly suits this team–unfortunately, getting far enough ahead is what has proven so darn difficult.

Granted, San Diego had two weeks to prepare, but in the first quarter, this game was Denver’s for the taking. Ahead by a touchdown and a defensive stop from getting the ball back with momentum, Chargers punter Mike Scifres managed to extend a San Diego drive with a perfectly timed, and poorly defended, fake punt that allowed the Bolts to eventually get on the board and work to a 35-14 victory that wasn’t as close the final score might indicate.

Despite a number of opportunities, Denver’s offense ceased to function–Moreno backslid to the back who couldn’t break a tackle, and Denver’s receiving corps dropped some catchable balls. Fullback Spencer Larson left QB Kyle Orton completely exposed on one first-half play that resulted in a brutal sack–hits like that put quarterbacks on injured reserve.

And then there’s McDaniels. With the game well out of hand, he continues to trot Orton and the first-team offense onto the field, putting at risk his own self-described future. Why not give first-round draft choice Tim Tebow a chance when you’re down 35-7 in the fourth quarter? Or why not give Brady Quinn some quality minutes? Hubris? Idiocy? Somebody is so smart, he’s outsmarting himself.

Bronco fans have every right to be upset. As ESPN callously displayed the successes former Broncos, from Tony Scheffler to Alphonso Smith to Peyton Hillis, are having after being rejected by McDaniels, we’re left to wonder, is this guy serious? We’ll give him Orton–former Broncos QB Jay Cutler has proven to be as maddeningly inconsistent with the Bears as he was with the Broncos–but his player evaluation skills seem to be seriously lacking. Moreno, a 2009 first-round draft pick has had ONE 100-yard effort and even now, when supposedly healthy, can’t break a tackle at the line of scrimmage. And Demaryius Thomas, the wide-receiver McDaniels insisted is more talented than Dez Bryant, is hurt again, this time injuring his ankle.

Defensively–with Champ Bailey’s brilliant interception as the obvious exception–the Broncos looked old. Brian Dawkins was schooled by Darren Sproles on a play that might have resulted in a loss, but instead went for a touchdown, and Rivers tossed a career-best four TDs. What’s more, it appeared, as the game grew more and more one-sided, the Broncos simply quit.

And, as a life-long fan, that’s the hardest thing to accept. Not only is our team a below-average collection of NFL talent, it lacks the desire to fight back under tough circumstances. They deserved to lose tonight–they were outplayed, outclassed and outcoached.

It’s a lost season, Bronco fans… but we can’t be like the team we love. We can’t quit–we don’t know how.

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