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Ultimate Fan: There is (always) a chance

Do you know why I love this series? Because it reminds me every week – even a week where I’ve been mad at this team, or at least at the team’s circumstances, for days – that there is something beautiful about joining hundreds of thousands of other people to cheer for 53 guys to do something they may or may not be capable of.

Just the hope of doing something miraculous – or even just entertaining us for a few hours – is something to look forward to.

Sometimes it ends in complete frustration (Falcons, Raiders) but sometimes it ends in total exhilaration (Chargers). And JasonAult16 has provided the perfect reminder for us this week that “any given Sunday” an underdog can pull off the upset. And when you live in the heart of Chiefs’ country as he does…well, you have to grasp at whatever hope there is.

So here’s to hope…

Week 11: Dolphins at Broncos

MHR – You are the self-appointed jinx against beating the Chiefs…what are the chances you are the good luck charm for getting a win over the Dolphins this week? 🙂
JasonAult16: I picked one of the Chiefs games each of the last two seasons…and the Broncos failed miserably in those games, especially last season. This past summer when you took requests, I asked to write about the Dolphins game because I thought that Miami would still be rebuilding, thus making this a very winnable game. That’s probably not the case now. The Broncos have obviously been decimated with injuries, whereas the Dolphins seem to have found some success. We’ll see, though. Any Given Sunday.

MHR – How would you describe the Raiders game in one word? And then in several words, why do you say that?
JasonAult16: Frustrating. Drew’s interception at the end of the first half seemed to take all of the wind out of the Broncos’ sails. Remember…if that drive ended in a touchdown, the Broncos would have taken a lead into halftime. Would it have made a difference in the end? Maybe not, but I have always believed that when inferior teams are allowed to hang around, it usually bites the favored team in the butt.

MHR – Broncos are 3-6 playing with a quarterback who has 12 starts and a suspect O-line. Dolphins are 6-3 playing with a quarterback who has 5 starts and a suspect O-line. What’s our problem that they don’t have?
JasonAult16: I don’t have as much knowledge of Miami to adequately answer that, but I think it still goes back to the Broncos’ injuries. If we had a little get together this past summer and played a fun game of ranking the most important Broncos on this roster, we certainly would have put Von, Courtland, Jurrell, Shelby, and others at the top of the list…and those guys have been hurt most of, if not all of, the season. You can say “next man up,” but at some point, you just run out of dudes. Now, that’s not an excuse because NFL opponents won’t feel sorry for you, but I would have liked to have seen what this team could have done with even a normal amount of injuries rather than the ridiculous amount that the Broncos have suffered this year.

MHR – Shelby Harris should be back in the game this week. What kind of difference-maker is he on the defensive line and how can he help the Broncos stop Tua Tagovailoa and Matt Breida?
JasonAult16: Shelby Harris is a large American (“Black Sheep” movie reference) who is excellent at clogging up the trenches. He is also one of the best I have ever seen at knocking down passes at the line of scrimmage. He will definitely be an asset in helping contain Miami. Maybe he can help throw something at Tua to force some mistakes.

MHR – Broncos’ secondary has been a bit of a revolving door at the second cornerback position this season, making it easy for teams to pick on the weaker corner. If A.J. Bouyé isn’t able to play Sunday, what’s your level of confidence in DeVanté Bausby, Essang Bassey and/or Michael Ojemudia (and for that matter, what’s your level of confidence in Bouyé if he’s out there)?
JasonAult16: I will be interested to see what Bausby can do after coming back to the Broncos. He seemed to be a guy who fans hated to see leave. Getting him back seems fortunate. I felt bad that Davontae Harris couldn’t have success because he is a Wichita guy who was actually coached in high school by a friend of mine. Since this season seems to be a lost cause anyway, it will be important for these young guys to get opportunities for experience, good and bad, to help them build for the future.

MHR – While Tagovailoa has been quite successful, he can still get rattled with a pass rush. Will Sunday be a day for Bradley Chubb and Malik Reed to earn their pay?
JasonAult16: I hope so. Like my previous answer, it is important for Bradley to continue building experience. If Von is in the twilight of his Broncos career (Laurie, we’ll have to start a grief support group if Von leaves this offseason), Bradley has to start showing that he can be “The Guy’’ who can get multiple hits on the opposing QB. It doesn’t seem like the Broncos have had much pressure if the last couple of games.

MHR – Bradley Chubb called Alexander Johnson “electric” and said the “things he does to pull guards is huge.” Is Johnson an underrated x-factor for this defense?
JasonAult16: Yeah, he has been a pleasant “surprise” in the last couple seasons. He seems to have good range and a willingness to mix it up. Because the defense has appeared to have struggled by giving up so many points, it is easy to overlook him, but he seems to be part of an answer rather than being part of a problem.

MHR – It seems like Phillip Lindsay has been underused in the offense, and Pat Shurmur sounded a little defensive about that in a question during Thursday’s presser, saying “I think it’s good if Phillip touches the ball and we’ll keep trying to get it to him.” Is the lack of usage and production from No. 30 because of the offensive line or the number of run plays to Lindsay?
JasonAult16: Yes. Probably some of a lot of things. It seems that he has been bottled up recently, getting hit behind the line of scrimmage, which points to offensive line struggles. Also, because the Broncos seem to play from behind a lot, it isn’t quite as easy to get him on the field and let him pound the rock. It is a shame too because he runs so hard. When he can get a normal chance to run the ball in advantageous situations, he can be electric. We just have not seen that much lately.

MHR – Miami’s defense has been playing great and forcing teams to do more running because of their pass rush. Given how porous the line has been in recent weeks, how do the Broncos game plan for this?
JasonAult16: The Broncos have had a big problem getting behind schedule with down and distance. Way too many second/third and longs. They have to find a way to have better success on first down so that teams can’t just pin the ears back to rush the quarterback in later downs.

MHR – A big part of the Miami defense’s success are the amoeba looks it gives an opposing quarterback. Is this going to spell disaster for Drew Lock, who hasn’t been great at picking up the blitz or reading a defense too well so far?
JasonAult16: Yeah, Drew doesn’t handle pressure well at all. I am not sure what can be done about that at this time. He kinda just has to roll with it and keep battling this season. A normal offseason will do wonders for him. We’ll see about this game. That said, if Brett Rypien gets some action due to Drew’s potential injured status, that might throw just enough of a wrinkle into Miami’s game planning to open up some things for him.

MHR – If the season ended today, where would you stand on keeping Drew Lock – do you say this year is a wash because of Covid and injuries and give him another year? Do you say you’re done with Lock because he hasn’t shown much ability to progress beyond his bad habits? Or do you blame it on the OC and fire him? 😉
JasonAult16: Tough call. As much as I don’t want to make excuses, we all knew that the lack of a normal offseason would show its ugly head at some point. We just didn’t know that it would be this grossly hideous. Because he is still on his rookie contract and because the salary cap likely drops next year, the Broncos probably need to ride with him next year just for economic reasons…but he has to get better. If you and I know that, he obviously does as well. Whether he can improve remains the $64,000 question.

MHR – Without being in favor of tanking the season for a higher draft pick (because UFGers are not allowed to be those fans) – which season scenario would ultimately be best for the Broncos in your opinion:

  • Play hard, try to win, but lose the rest of the season and finish 3-13?
  • Get blown out the rest of season, finish 3-13 and start blowing up coaching staffs.
  • Win a couple, lose most, finish around 5-11 or 6-10, and end up with only a top 15-ish pick in the draft?
  • Win out (duh, this would be awesome, but if you choose this, what are the realistic chances)?

JasonAult16: Not sure how I should answer this, but I will say that I want to see them play hard, be competitive, and give themselves chances to win games. Whether the wins come, especially with the remaining schedule, might or might not happen. What the Broncos have to do is start learning to win football games…and then eventually win games that matter, which likely won’t happen this season after a couple more losses mathematically end a playoff scenario. As much as I enjoyed last season’s 4-1 finish, there was not the pressure of “win games or else.” That’s the next step for this franchise. This once-proud franchise hasn’t really played meaningful December football since 2016 (the late push in 2018 was kind of a mirage). That’s way too much losing.

MHR – Any Pro Bowlers for the Broncos this season?
JasonAult16: Brandon McManus, Justin Simmons, maybe Bolles or Risner (never thought I would say the Bolles has a shot, but he might)

Predictions

Stats for the Broncos QB? 250 yards, 2 TDs, 2 INTs

Stats for each Broncos RB? Gordon 20 carries, 75 yards; Lindsay 15 carries, 70 yards, 1 rushing TD

Number of yards receiving/TDs for each receiver? Jeudy 80 yards and 1 TD; Hamler 60 yards; Fant 40 yards and 1 TD; Patrick 40 yards; others 30 yards.

Longest FG for McManus? 50

Number of sacks to Lock? 3

Number of sacks to Tua Tagovailoa? 3

Broncos player with the most tackles? Alexander Johnson

Who gets the most sacks? Bradley Chubb

How many INTs/FF/FR for the Broncos D? Tua’s first career INT and maybe another fumble

How many penalties will the refs get wrong? All of them. 🙂 Okay, so maybe one or two.

Final Score? It is not completely impossible for the Broncos to get the W this week, so because I don’t want to be haunted by the spirits of Mr. B, Barrel Man, and my dad, I will not pick them to lose. Broncos win 27-24.

The Favorites

Favorite Broncos game EVER? Favorite that I have ever attended was the 2015 AFC Championship Game against New England. When Von sacked Brady deep in the north side of the field, I might or might not have had an evil out-of-body experience. In the words of my Twitter friend Laurie “#FYTB!” (My favorite overall will be mentioned a few questions later)

Team you hate to lose to the most? Kansas City. I live among a nasty infestation of that fanbase, so losing to them vigorously inhales.

Non AFC West team you hate to lose to the most? Hmmm. My disdain for New England has subsided a little, but I still don’t like those guys. It is mainly because of Josh McDaniels. I mutter expletives under my breath every time I see his smug mug flash on the screen.

Team you love to beat? Obviously, the division teams and New England rank highest, but I have also enjoyed watching the Broncos beat the Cowboys, currently a six-game winning streak.

Favorite time Broncos were the underdog and won? Super Bowl XXXII. Best moment in Broncos history ever. If you disagree, you are either lying, wrong, or too young to remember it.

Favorite game (were/still) looking forward to this season? A buddy and I were going to try to get tickets for the Bills game because that would have worked with our schedules, especially if it could be put on the Saturday of that weekend. Alas, the Broncos’s struggles will likely not get that game placed on Saturday, and it became a totally moot point when it was announced that fans won’t be attending games after this Dolphins game.

Toughest game left on the schedule? At Kansas City

Favorite Broncos player on the current roster? Dalton Risner since he is from the Denver area and also played college ball at Kansas State (my in-laws’ school)

Favorite Broncos player of all time? John Albert Elway, Jr

Favorite new guy/rookie on the team? Jerry Jeudy…he will be a really good one, I hope

Superstitions on game day? Text my buddies on my Broncos Text Chain, though the recent lack of success has kinda dulled our enthusiasm on game days.

Least favorite game analyst/commentator? I cringe when the Broncos have any announcer with Chiefs connections (Kevin Harlan, Rich Gannon, Trent Green, etc.)

Favorite sports cliche? Play hard, play smart, play together

Favorite sports movie? 42 …RIP Chadwick Boseman 🙁

Best sports GIF?

How did you become a Broncos fan?

I started rooting for the Broncos because of my dad. It probably also helped that John Elway was doing his thing too when I was becoming old enough to understand football. I saw my first Broncos game in November 1989 at Arrowhead when No. 7 drove the Broncos down the field late in the game to beat the Chiefs (imagine that). I am fortunate to have had season tickets since 2009 and look forward to taking my son (named Denver…yes, I am THAT GUY) to his first game, probably in 2022.

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