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Ultimate Fan looking for a Broncos’ win in New England

Well, it feels like 98 days since Broncos last played a game, and there’s still a chance this one doesn’t get played, but we’re crossing our fingers, knocking on wood and tightening those face masks hoping the Broncos will FINALLY play the Patriots.

ToddusCraig took the sudden bye week in stride and came back stronger than ever (he is a middle school teacher, though, so he knows what it takes to be tough). Let’s hope these Broncos have a little middle school bully inside of them as they take the field against Bill Belichick, err…the Patriots.

Cam Newton and Stephon Gilmore are back, but so are Drew Lock and Phillip Lindsay. Hopefully Buzz Lightyear and his pitbull have some surprises for the Pats and pull out the win that our true fan here predicts (p.s. – I TOTALLY knew the movie ToddusCraig alludes to with his favorite quote. Like in half-a-second I knew it…high five to you for a great choice!)

Week 5 6: Broncos at Patriots

MHR – About three months ago, the Broncos got a win. Not a pretty one but a win nonetheless. Be honest, were you rooting for the W or on the ‘Tank4Trevor’ train?
ToddusCraig: Oh geez…give me a W. iMean, it is 2020… We’ve had Covid, quarantines, protests, fires, double hurricanes, and murder hornets. As a result, I don’t give a flying fig newton if Trevor Lawrence is the second coming of John Elway or the next Trevor Siemian. What I do know is that I’m desperate for something good and right in the world, and after three heartbreaking losses, that win in New York felt like a little slice of pure heaven.

Broncos wins are always good and right; quarterbacks are never a guaranteed deal. The Tank4Trevor crew can go be Jets fans or something. Whatever. I’m done riding the quarterback carousel. Lock deserves a few years to learn and grow and improve, and I’m all in.

MHR – Shelby Harris and Calvin Anderson weren’t too happy the NFL moved the game – first to Monday afternoon and then to this week – because of Patriots’ positive covid tests last week. Then this week Vic Fangio basically told everyone to quit whining 🙂 Do you think the players were justified? How do you feel about the coach’s stance and does it still seem like the Pats got the better end of the deal?
ToddusCraig: They ain’t wrong. Even with more positives this weekend, I think the game will happen, but this is super discouraging. We’ve done everything right, and the other team hasn’t. Shouldn’t we get to dictate terms? It’s gotta feel like we’re the A student missing recess when the teacher keeps everyone inside because two kids didn’t do their homework.

And is it safe? Clearly it can be, but…after whistling through the graveyard for the first few weeks, the disease and the positive tests are now beginning to happen regularly. The Titans and the Raiders and the Pats all seem to be having trouble doing the simplest of measures – wearing masks and staying out of social situations. I’m proud that the Broncos have been more professional after Fangio’s early miscues. That speaks highly to our team’s leadership.

MHR – If Patriots confirm another positive COVID-19 test, what do you think the league should do – reschedule? make Pats forfeit?
ToddusCraig: Honestly, if the Pats can’t stay healthy, they should forfeit. It’s not lost on me how vaguely ironic that the NFL team named for being patriotic in the most American of ways is completely flummoxed and hamstrung by this virus.

The only other real alternative is to shut everything down for three weeks and start again. That’s super unfair to the teams who’ve taken the precautions seriously.

MHR – Do you think the Broncos have a better chance with Lock out there at QB?
ToddusCraig: The season previews were all excited about Lock and our young receivers and revamped running game, so yeah…I can’t wait to see more of our starters. Playing third stringers doesn’t get you very far in this league, but your back-ups need to play to get better, too. That said, let’s hope for Lock to gain experience! I’ve been salivating watching Josh Allen in his what – third year of development?? That’s what I think Lock can become if we’re patient. Now isn’t the time for him to put up or shut up. That’s impatient and short-sighted. Let the kid play when he’s healthy, let him learn and grow, and let’s beat a few teams along the way.

MHR – Aside from Brett Rypien’s ill-advised throws for picks, the young QB put together a decent game against the lowly Jets. What would be your confidence level in his ability against a Bill Belichick-coached defense should he be called upon?
ToddusCraig: Umm… zero.

Rypien’s a practice squad player making his second start; Belichick is one of the greatest coaching minds in the game.

But the beauty of sports is that anything can happen, right? The Broncos have been bitten as Goliaths before — We made Doug Williams a name. Mark Brunell once outdueled John Elway at the height of his career.

So you know what? I’m gonna root for the kid to let ‘er Ryp, knowing full well there may be some bad decisions. That’s OK. Get out there, have some fun, get some experience, and maybe we find a way to win. Every hero has to prepare and wait for his moment to shine. Maybe next week, we’re talking about Rypien’s surprise game and a possible quarterback controversy, LOL. This is the NFL — anything can happen.

MHR – Melvin Gordon was having a solid season and showing that his $8 million salary was getting good use since Phillip Lindsay was out with an injury. But a DUI likely means he misses several games once the league hands down a punishment. What do you think of his poor judgment and what do you think the Broncos should do?
ToddusCraig: I wasn’t a huge fan of this signing. I saw him as a streaky, fumble-prone runner during his time in SoCal for the Chargers. That said, the entire Chargers organization is streaky and fumble-prone, so maybe I was too harsh a judge because I really was impressed with his play so far. There was a poorly timed fumble a couple weeks ago that cost us the game, but I saw a gutty runner with game-changing ability last week. I’m actually super excited to see the Gordon/Lindsay backfield become the one-two punch we’ve been lacking since the Mike Anderson/Olandis Gary days. I’d say that I’m ready to raise a toast to our backfield, but I think Melvin already did that.

MHR – Phillip Lindsay is going to be back. How important is his energy and ability for the offense – both in general and now that Gordon is likely out?
ToddusCraig: He’s our fan favorite for a reason. My son is in eighth grade, and we both love cheering on the Colorado Kid. He is pure energy whenever he’s on the field. He’s one carry from the endzone, and he’s a helluva great guy. I’m proud my kid looks up to him and Von as his favorite Broncos.

MHR – Stephon Gilmore is back and the Pats secondary will be a lot to contend with. What kind of offensive scheme would you like to see from Shurmur to make it hard on the Patriots DBs?
ToddusCraig: I keep thinking back to the first four games of the Manning era. It looked shaky there, really shaky. Old Man Manning was throwing ducks, missing receivers, and the timing just wasn’t there and the outlook was bleak.

In 2020 we had no preseason, took enough injuries to fill our own hospital, and watched a very young team get even younger with more rookie starters than would normally be expected. So trying to get a read on what our offensive philosophy is exactly has been damned near impossible.

But man, it’s starting to look like we got some gamers, doesn’t it? Tim Patrick isn’t a name that sells jerseys, but he looked a lot like Rod Smith to me — always in the exact right spot to make a tough grab. More of that? Yes, please. Jeudy running routes that leave defensive backs wondering if they made the wrong career choice? That too, please.

MHR – With the loss of Von Miller and Jurrell Casey, Vic Fangio has been dialing up more blitzes and utilizing players like Justin Simmons and Alexander Johnson to put pressure on the QB. Will that work against Cam Newton?
ToddusCraig: I analyzed the game film of our previous Broncos games against Cam Newton, and it turns out that we have had some success blitzing him. I think Von Miller had an impressive game back in 2016 if memory serves…

And I don’t know who insulted Alexander Johnson’s mother before the Jets game, but damn…he was playing like a man on a mission. Josey Jewell, too. I think Old Man Fangio channeled his inner Wade Phillips and had it pay off. I expect to see more this week.

MHR – Shelby Harris continues to be a major force for big plays. What does he need to do this week to rev up the Broncos’ D for a big day?
ToddusCraig: Harris epitomizes Broncos football in my opinion. We’ve had players of his caliber before. Alfred Williams comes to mind from the Elway years, and Greg Kragen before him. They’re all these defensive linemen who found a way to be successful without being 375 pounds. Instead they focused on technique and outplayed their opponents as a result. I’ll take Shelby Harris over Ndamukong Suh all day long.

And he can swat away the haters.

MHR – Against the Jets, Fangio moved Bryce Callahan inside to play slot and put DeVanté Bausby in as boundary corner, providing an immediate improvement. Fangio indicated last week that would remain the plan while A.J. Bouyé is still out. What kind of success do you think they can have against N’Keal Harry and Julian Edelman?
ToddusCraig: Edelman is so gutty; he reminds me of Ed McCaffrey. I think you only hope to contain him, to paraphrase some old school Sportscenter. As far as the rest of the secondary goes, Fangio deserves some credit for making the change, and as fans, we just hope to see more improvement.

MHR – The Broncos essentially lost their true Bye Week and now have 12 weeks straight of football and against top teams that include the Pats, Chiefs, Chargers, Raiders, Bills, Saints. How many of those do you think the Broncos can win, will win, should win?
ToddusCraig: My orange-tinted vision tells me that we’re going to be competitive. How much so depends on our continued health and reversing some of the luck that has haunted us. We can compete with anyone except maybe the Chiefs, but they didn’t look especially like world beaters against a mediocre Raiders squad.

MHR – Brandon McManus was the Special Teams Player for his big day against the Jets, including two 50+ yard field goals. How good is it for the offense to have such a solid foot to rely on for points?
ToddusCraig: Oh, it’s great. McManus is the McMan. He’s another in a great line of kickers – Elam, Prater, and McManus are a helluva run of kicking excellence.

Now punters on the other hand…

MHR – Name a player that has really stood out to you so far this season and why?
ToddusCraig: I’m jazzed about Noah Fant. As a huge Shannon Sharpe fan, I mourned the loss of Orange Julius to the Jaguars. (Did anyone ever hear from him again, by the way? Should we do a wellness check?) And it seems like we’ve tried everything to get a decent tight end since, but without any real luck. No ifs, ands, or Jake buts about it.

Predictions

Stats for whichever QB Broncos play? 235 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT

Stats for each Broncos RB: ? Lindsay 112 yards, 1 TD; Freeman 12 yards

Number of yards receiving/TDs for each receiver? Patrick 55 yards; Jeudy 45 yards, 1 TD

Longest FG for McManus? 55

Number of sacks to the Broncos’ QB? 4

Number of sacks to the Patriots’ QB? 4

Broncos player with the most tackles? Jewell

Who gets the most sacks? Chubb

How many INTs/FF/FR for the Broncos D? 0 ints/2ff/1fr

How many penalties will the refs get wrong? Only the one Belichick forgot to pay for.

Final Score? 24-18 Denver

The Favorites

Favorite Broncos game EVER? This one’s for John…

Team you hate to lose to the most? The Raiders

Non AFC West team you hate to lose to the most? The Pats

Team you love to beat? The Raiders

Favorite time Broncos were the underdog and won? Super Bowl 50

Favorite game looking forward to this season? I don’t care if 2020’s next surprise is a flaming asteroid headed straight for the Earth as long as we beat the Raiders twice.

Toughest game on the schedule? How do you solve a problem like Mahomes? Lock him up.

Favorite Broncos player on the current roster? Lindsay and Von

Favorite Broncos player of all time? Elway

Favorite new guy/rookie on the team? I’m converting to Jeudyism.

Superstitions on game day? My son kind of dreams of having a Phillip Lindsay afro, and I ask him for some ‘fro for good luck and pat his head. It’s a father-son thing that we do during the game.

Least favorite game analyst/commentator? I’m still holding my grudge against Phil Simms. I’d rather listen to Cris Collinsworth read War and Peace in its entirety than listen to Phil Simms gripe about the Broncos for one more game.

Favorite sports cliche? “We gotta play ‘em one day at a time. I’m just happy to be here. Hope I can help the ballclub. I just want to give it my best shot, and the good Lord willing, things will work out. A good friend of mine used to say, ‘This is a very simple game. You throw the ball, you catch the ball, you hit the ball. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, sometimes it rains.’ Think about that for a while.”

Favorite sports movie? If you recognized that last quote, you know.

Best sports GIF?

How did you become a Broncos fan?

ToddusCraig: My father was and still is a sports freak. I wasn’t much of an athletic kid, but sports were always on, and I learned to find the stories and nuance in the games. Elway always played with such guts, such courage, that as a teenager, he seemed almost god-like in what he could summon from his own abilities. As he lost those first three Super Bowls, it was as if we all shared his heartache. The hero had everything but his moment.

It was a joyous and tragic and awe-inspiring time to be a Broncos fan growing up in the 80s, and it felt like we were on some cursed ship moored on an ancient burial ground near a voodoo church. We had the star quarterback and some good players, but we never had a championship-caliber team…

Which is kind of ironic because since Super Bowl 50, it’s felt like we’ve had some championship-caliber teams if only we had the star qb, you know? But in Elway we trust here in Colorado, and we know that somehow, some way – he’s gonna build another championship team. 2020 probably ain’t it, but we’re definitely getting closer. Go Broncos!

Poll

Which movie is ToddusCraig referring to with his quote?

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    Major League

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    Rudy

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    Bull Durham

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    Draft Day

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