1 Up, 5 Down: Broncos spoil opportunity to upset Chiefs

Justin Simmons. Credit: Isaiah J. Downing, USA TODAY Sports.
Justin Simmons. Credit: Isaiah J. Downing, USA TODAY Sports.

The Broncos have not turned the corner.

Following two strong showings against the Titans and the Chargers, there was a sense of optimism in the Mile High City. That sense is entirely gone after Denver’s 30-6 waxing at the hands of the Chiefs, who had Matt Moore at quarterback for the majority of the game.

Now, the Broncos drop to 2-5 and their season is likely done. The performance was so miserable that this week there is only one player who improved his stock, and five units or players that killed theirs.

1 Up

Justin Simmons

The lone bright spot on the Broncos’ roster Thursday night was safety Justin Simmons.

He appears to be a star in the making and seemed to be the only defensive player creating big plays for Denver. Simmons came away with eight solo tackles, the most on the Broncos, and broke up a pass intended for Mecole Hardman.

Two of his tackles on Lesean McCoy were incredibly impressive, as McCoy almost made him miss with a move, only for Simmons to wrap him up with a strong arm tackle.

5 Down

Run game

The Broncos entered this game with one of the league’s very best run games, facing the league’s very worst run defense. Everyone knew the Broncos had to control the clock and run the ball early and often.

Unfortunately, the Broncos had to abandon the run game early, as they quickly fell behind, but that doesn’t excuse just how miserable Denver’s ground attack was. In the first half, the Broncos picked up just 23 rushing yards and their final rushing total of 71 yards was greatly inflated by garbage time.

For comparison’s sake, the Chiefs were allowing more than 190 rushing yards per game over their past four outings.

There were plenty of other problems on the Broncos’ offense Thursday, but it all started with their inability to move the ball on the ground.

Offensive Line

The other killer on offense for the Broncos was their offensive line. Garett Bolles had his worst outing since Week 2, allowing a sack and being called three times for holding. Those holding calls brought his tally up to nine on the season.

On the other side of the line, Elijah Wilkinson had one of his worst performances this season, allowing multiple sacks and looking more like a turnstile than an offensive lineman.

As a whole, the unit allowed Flacco to get sacked nine times, the most of his career and had him running for his life on nearly every play.

Coaching

This game may have been the very worst of Vic Fangio’s short head coaching tenure.

After a strong opening touchdown drive and a Kansas City offsides on the extra point, the Broncos elected to go for two and were stuffed. From that point on, the entire team appeared flat.

The Broncos gained 75 yards on the opening drive, but the team gained just over 100 yards through the rest of the game.

The coaching staff’s most head-scratching penalty though came on an early fourth down fake punt attempt. Rather than punting the ball away or keeping their offense on the field, the Broncos opted to put the ball in punter Colby Wadman’s hands to pick up the four yards. That’s a tall order considering the punter was already lined up 10 yards in the backfield and had no one blocking for him.

Special Teams

After showing signs of improvement over the last few weeks, the special teams unit was dreadful for Denver against Kansas City.

The first miscue came when Mecole Hardman found a seam on a punt return, giving the Chiefs the ball inside the Broncos’ red zone to start. The defense forced a three-and-out, but the field possession meant Kansas City still came away with points on an easy, chip-shot field goal.

Following the horrible fake punt, Denver’s final special teams miscue came as Brandon McManus missed a field goal from 45 out that would help the Broncos get off the mat, ending his make streak inside 50.

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