Hope is gone: Time for the Broncos to hit reset

Oct 17, 2019; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Broncos quarterback Joe Flacco (5) and offensive guard Ronald Leary (65) walk off the the field in the third quarter against the Kansas City Chiefs at Empower Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

The Denver Broncos 30-6 loss versus the Kansas City Chiefs on Thursday night was possibly the lowest moment for a franchise that has long been regarded as one of the best in the NFL.

At what point is enough enough?

From the very moment, the Broncos walked off the field in Santa Clara, California as Super Bowl 50 champions, a forecast of doom, embarrassment and uncertainty swept over the team. Those emotions have felt like a consistent downpour with Thursday night’s performance now representing the eye of the storm.

After starting the season in the gutters with an 0-4 start, the Broncos managed to inject life into the fanbase by notching back-to-back wins. Despite a sub .500 record, the Broncos were presented with a prime opportunity to reinsert themselves as a relevant team in the AFC West with a win over the Chiefs.

All was good to open up the game. Denver drove down the field and started things off with a quick score from running back Royce Freeman. After a Chiefs penalty, Broncos head coach Vic Fangio opted to go for a two-point conversion in an attempt to set the tone, knowing Denver’s offense would need a big game should they want to defeat the division rivals. The attempt failed and that frustration remained for the rest of the game.

Kansas City took advantage of the Broncos miscue by posting 10 unanswered points to establish a 10-6 lead. While the game was still close, the Broncos were provided a golden opportunity when Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes departed the game with a knee injury.

Mahomes would not return, leaving veteran Matt Moore in charge of Kansas City’s offense. Instead of slowing the Chiefs down, the Broncos defense allowed Moore to run wild, hurling 117 yards and a touchdown despite having minimal practice this season.

Kansas City entered half time with a 20-6 lead. Clearly stunned at what transpired on the field, Broncos fans anxiously awaited for their team to take the field in the second half to try and right the ship.

Denver did not appear to make any adjustments during halftime, watching the Chiefs put the game out of reach following a 57-yard touchdown pass to Tyreek Hill midway through the 3rd quarter. Poor offensive performance, more holding penalties on Garett Bolles and a botched fake punt all fueled the boos that rained down from the stands.

The Broncos offense was putrid in the second half partially due to suspect play-calling. Despite being down by more than two touchdowns, Flacco continued to go under center, resulting in eight total sacks and strong criticism from Hall-of-Fame quarterback Troy Aikman.

“This is about as bad an offense as I have ever seen,” Aikman said on the television broadcast. “Surprised the fans are still here.”

With a 2-5 record, the Broncos’ dreams of postseason play are all but over. Instead, the Broncos should officially turn the page and rebuild the franchise from the ground up.

Since the retirement of Peyton Manning, Denver has been the definition of mediocrity. The team has run through four quarterbacks in as many years, losing consistently while regressing as time has passed. Instead of holding out hope for one last run with the current group of players, Denver should commit to tearing things down to build the franchise back up.

If Denver were smart, they would insert Drew Lock as the starting quarterback when he returns from injury. No disrespect to Joe Flacco, but Denver will not do anything of substance with him running the show.

The Broncos should give Lock a chance to see what he’s got. The Broncos brass must get a feel for the 2019 second-round pick and see if he has what it takes to steer this team to success in the future.

As for the veterans on the team, the Broncos should look to be sellers at the October 29th trade deadline. Chris Harris Jr,  Emmanuel Sanders, Derek Wolfe and others should be considered for a move. There are teams contending for the playoffs that could benefit from the talent that exists on Denver’s roster which could allow the Broncos to get more than just a bag of peanuts in return.

Thursday’s loss should mark the end of an era for the Broncos. In truth, the era ended with Super Bowl 50. Denver’s front office continued to hold on to the fantasy that the team could string together a championship run with the remaining members of that team. But after three consecutive losing seasons, and a fourth on the horizon, it’s time for the Broncos to hit reset.

The charade is over.