In a last-ditch effort to make the playoffs, the Broncos entered today’s game missing a massive amount of key players on both sides of the ball. Unfortunately, and largely due to the absence of talent, the game never seemed in reach.

Ultimately losing 34-13, Vic Fangio and his staff continued to disappoint with multiple questionable decisions. With the season coming to an end, this seemed like their final opportunity to show general manager George Paton that they should retain their jobs. And yet, the staff struggled mightily.

We look at the few positives, and more negatives in the Broncos loss.

Stock Up

Noah Fant

On the offensive side of the ball, Noah Fant was the lone bright spot as he brought in six receptions for 92 yards and a touchdown.

A player fans have been complaining about all season, it was great to see Fant show flashes of the talent everybody expected coming into this year.

The main thing that stood out was his athleticism as he showed great ability to get upfield after the catch today, taking advantage of soft coverage underneath. This is especially encouraging as this has been a massive issue for him this entire season.

Stock Down

Offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur

Now a common theme, the Broncos offense has been a disaster all season long. This game being no different, they were only able to muster up a total of 13 points.

Many will point to players missing this game due to COVID, and while that most definitely had an impact, this underperformance has happened far too often. Simply put, the Broncos have one of the most talented rosters in all of the NFL and most would have no idea watching the Shurmur lead offense this season.

Whether it be by play design or sequencing, players on the Broncos offense have not been put in the right position to succeed. Many times asked to do things that do not play into their strengths, the Broncos offense as a whole is struggling because of it.

This game was no different. A great example came on a fourth and goal where the Broncos dialed up what is now popularly known as the “Philly Special.”

This play consists of a hand-off to the running back, a pitch back to a wide receiver, and a thrown ball from that receiver back to the quarterback. Not only is it a very complex play for three backups in Drew Lock, Kendall Hinton and Mike Boone to execute, but this was shortly after Lock had already been sent to the locker room with an injury. On the play, Lock took a big hit, coming just short of the end zone. Obviously, the play did not work but it also put his players in harm’s way.

Special Teams Coordinator Tom McMahon 

A disaster since he’s been in Denver, McMahon has consistently led one of the league’s worst special team units.

Today the McMahon led Broncos were on full display. Giving up two long returns, one being a touchdown, and muffing a punt, the Broncos never had a chance with the absurd amount of mistakes this unit had.

Special teams is often forgot about but the best teams in the NFL all make sure that they have a sound unit in place. These types of mistakes have become all too familiar to Broncos country and in a game of inches, special teams play is often a critical area in winning or losing.

Head Coach Vic Fangio

While Fangio’s defense has played well this season, there is a ton more that goes into being an NFL head coach.

As listed above, Shurmur and McMahon have been a disaster. As the head coach of the football team, their mistakes all fall on Fangio for putting them in the position to begin with. A coach like McMahon should’ve been fired a while ago. This is his fourth season as the Broncos special teams coordinator and how he still maintains this job is unbelievable in the eyes of fans and media alike.

After today’s loss, this is Fangio’s third straight losing season and has now accumulated the most ever losses of any Broncos head coach through three years. Often not fair, head coaches are judged by their team’s record and at some point the Broncos do have to put their foot down. From the very beginning of this year, the goal for this Broncos team was the playoffs and this loss eliminates them from that, leaving Fangio’s stock plummeting and future likely in jeopardy.