Freud on the NFL: Broncos sinking like a stone
1. Rams (6-0) … Can win on the road, too.
2. Patriots (4-2) … Sigh.
3. Chiefs (5-1) … Still fine.
4. Saints (4-1) … Fresh off a bye.
5. Vikings (3-2-1) … Defense improving.
1. 49ers (1-5) … Loss to Pack inevitable.
2. Raiders (1-5) … Stanford best team in Bay.
3. Cardinals (1-5) … Broncos this week.
4. Giants (1-5) … The offense looks better?
5. Bills (2-4) … Nathan Peterman is still in the league?
Wow, this is getting depressing.
The Broncos dropped to 2-4 with a 23-20 loss to the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday, Oct. 14. That would be four losses in a row and only four points during the first two games of the season are the difference between the team’s current record and 0-6.
The offensive line, already a sore spot, is in tatters.
The defense has been torched in the last games for nearly 600 yards of rushing.
Quarterback Case Keenum still doesn’t look like the solution to the team’s offensive woes as year No. 3 without Peyton Manning continues.
The Broncos have already played half of their home games through Week 6.
And this is going to get better with a three-day turnaround and a game in Arizona, essentially a must-win for whatever hopes the Broncos have, on Thursday, Oct. 18, exactly how?
• Bradley Chubb had what is hopefully a breakout game with three sacks. In the salary-cap NFL, a franchise has to draft well, not only to keep the cupboard stocked, but to have cheap, good players.
It’s way to early to call whether the Broncos have a hit with Chubb. Sunday was encouraging. From the 2018 NFL draft, wide-receiver Courtland Sutton (second round) is off to an OK start as a third target for Keenum behind Emmanuel Sanders and Demaryius Thomas.
Running-back Royce Freeman comes from the third round and has been productive, though not against the Rams, when the rushing game evaporated.
What is worrisome is that general manager John Elway’s first-round picks in 2016 and 2017 have been busts. Quarterback Paxton Lynch (2016) has already been released and then there’s left-tackle Garett Bolles.
The 2017 first-rounder out of Utah was meant to be part of the offensive line reconstruction, but it’s really not looking pretty. Last season, Bolles was called for 10 holding penalties (seven accepted). One could think, “OK, he’s a rookie thrown into the fire and he’s going to get better.”
However, through six games this season, he’s been flagged five more times (four accepted). This is not trending in the right direction.
Guard Ron Leary is already out for the season and Jared Veldheer is questionable for Thursday, so the O-line is still in serious trouble.
• Keenum is looking more and more like a one-year wonder in Minnesota. He doesn’t really stretch the field, isn’t very accurate and takes sacks by not getting rid of the ball. Otherwise, he’s doing fine.
The bigger question is why can’t the quarterback (Elway) find a quarterback? Keenum, Trevor Siemian, Brock Osweiller and Lynch have been part of the quarterbacking carousel since Manning, and, boy, were Broncos fans excited about Chad Kelly when he entered the game on Sunday at the end of the first half.
And before anyone starts calling for Kelly, let’s remember that he was Mr. Irrelevant, the last pick, of the 2017 NFL Draft. Meanwhile, Elway signed Keenum. Keenum’s starting.
• The Broncos just don’t seem to have much of game plan for anything. Head coach Vance Joseph is off to a rip-roaring 7-15 start. Since Elway, though he has a lot of culpability for the Broncos’ current predicament, isn’t going anywhere, Joseph’s head is on the block.
In case you’re wondering, Week 10 is the team’s bye. Denver hosts Houston on Nov. 4 before that, so the firing, if it’s coming, is Nov. 5.
AFC West watch
• And the Chiefs finally lost a game. Losing to the Patriots in New England isn’t exactly a crisis. Kansas City (5-1) is home for the Bengals and Broncos the next two weeks. The Chiefs should get well in a hurry.
• And shockingly — not — the San Diego/Los Angeles Somewhere-in-California Chargers are 4-2 after a 1-2 start. The Chargers also have a pretty light schedule ahead — Titans in London, at Seattle (kinda tough), at Oakland, followed by the Broncos and Cardinals at home. Can they make the West a race?
• The Raiders have a bye this week. Bye is favored by seven-and-a-half points.
News and notes
• Remember when the Pats lost two in a row, including a loss to the Lions, and the sky was falling. Now, they’re 4-2 and likely the best team in the AFC. New England just considers September an extension of the preseason.
• What happened to Jacksonville? Yes, the Jags are hurt, but getting blasted by the offensive dynamo that is Dallas?
• The Steelers still have issues, but, naturally, won late in Cincy. The Bengals are so predictable.
On to Week 7.
When Flacco drops back to pass, he earns respect without uttering a word, by displaying a gift that’s rare, even at the NFL level.