Denver Broncos’ Winners and Losers Emerge from Week 9 Victoryby Aaron Hubert November 4, 2019 0 comments
With each random victory the Broncos manage to pull out, one cannot help but look back at the Bears, Jaguars, and Colts games and wonder how different this season would be if the team was now 6-3 and tied for the lead in the AFC West with the Kansas City Chiefs who are missing their best player. That is not the case, however, and the Broncos are now 3-6 after defeating the Cleveland Browns by a score of 24-19 on Sunday.
This victory was perhaps some payback for the game last season where the Browns came into Denver and beat the Broncos on a Vance Joseph coaching blunder that continued the downhill tumble to end the 2018 season. Whatever the case, Joe Flacco was moved to the injured reserve early in the week. This move promoted Brandon Allen to starting quarterback as the next man up to make his first career start.
After sitting in the stands for Sunday’s game, making determinations about certain winners and losers for the team this game was a bit easier.
Brandon Allen earned the win in his first ever start, throwing two touchdowns, zero interceptions, and zero fumbles, and leading the team to their highest scoring output of the season. He showed mobility in the pocket to make plays with his feet. The offense only asked Allen to throw the ball 20 times total, completing 12 of his passes and two for touchdowns. Courtland Sutton and Noah Fant’s big plays definitely made Allen look good, but not having Flacco under center to get sacked 10 times a game was a breath of fresh air.
Noah Fant had his first-round pick status validated with a breakout game, recording his first 100-yard receiving day thanks to a huge 75-yard touchdown catch and run in which he broke three tackles. With the good, there is still room for improvement, as Fant also had another penalty Sunday, his seventh of the season.
What more can be said about Phillip Lindsay, who had 92 yards rushing on nine carries, including a 30-yard touchdown run. He makes huge plays, breaks open big runs, and keeps the defense playing scared with his lightning-fast big-play ability. Lindsay continues to play at an insane level, repeatedly producing yards per carry averages that far exceed his 5-foot-8, 190-pound stature.
Inside linebackers Alexander Johnson and Todd Davis were playing on another level Sunday as both saw double-digit tackles (13 and 10, respectively) and were directly responsible for keeping Browns running back Nick Chubb well-contained (20 carries for 65 yards). Covering backs out of the backfield continues to be an area of focus for improvement, but these two have combined to be a nasty run-stopping duo.
Justin Simmons makes plays. Simmons bats balls, makes huge open-field tackles, makes tackles in the backfield on running plays, hawks the ball from his free safety position, and just constantly flies around, being an emotional and energy leader on this defense.
Joe Flacco was placed on the injured reserve with a neck injury, followed by his replacement leading the offense to the highest scoring output of the season in his first career start and leading the team to victory. All of that does not necessarily seem to bode well for Flacco’s Denver Broncos future.
Fans are just over Garrett Bolles. Too many times, I heard fans at Empower field say something to the tune of, “Oh, we have a big play? I bet Bolles has a holding call coming up.” Bolles did not disappoint either, registering one false start, another holding call that was declined as the play resulted in a third-down incompletion anyway, and allowing a sack from Olivier Vernon. Bolles puts together strings of games that make you forget how much of a liability he is with decent play, then jumps back onto the scene with a multi-penalty game and lackluster left tackle play.
Chris Harris Jr. had most of the coverage on Odell Beckham, Jr. on Sunday when he had a five-catch, 87-yard day. Harris missed multiple opportunities to make plays on the ball or tackle Beckham at the point of the catch and failed to do so on multiple chances. He was also around multiple batted balls that could have potentially been intercepted but instead hit the ground every time.
DaeSean Hamilton is the man that was supposed to step up with the shipping of Emmanuel Sanders to the 49ers at the trade deadline. His final box score was a complete no-show: zero catches for zero yards on zero targets. Ghosting the stat sheet after your snap count was expected to increase significantly is disappointing, to say the least.
Diontae Spencer had one reception for zero yards in which he fumbled inside the Broncos’ 20-yard line. He had another beautifully-thrown deep ball by Brandon Allen slide through his hands, negating what would have surely been a 60-yard touchdown with the cornerback laying on his stomach after falling down.
Up next, the Broncos have a Week 10 bye, giving them a chance to get healthy and prepare for a difficult two-week road trip to Minnesota and Buffalo to play the Vikings and Bills. The Broncos will look to string together some victories, but the schedule again is not favorable.