The Broncos did not kick their season off the right way. On Monday night, they lost to the Raiders by a score of 24-16.
They say the battle is won and lost in the trenches, and the Broncos struggled up front on both sides of the ball. They struggled to slow down the Raiders offense and they themselves couldn’t get much going on offense until later in the game.
Broncos head coach Vic Fangio had a calming message for the team after the loss.
“I was extremely disappointed in the loss, but not discouraged. I think once we see the plays we didn’t make, we can see that we can be better than we played tonight,” Fangio said.
The season is a marathon and not a sprint, but this team has stumbled out of the gate. Let’s take a look at the good, the bad and the ugly from Monday night’s loss.
Not everything was bad for the Broncos on Monday night. There are some players to highlight as positives despite the unwanted outcome. I thought second-year pros Phillip Lindsay, Royce Freeman and Courtland Sutton provided some much-needed spark for the team.
Lindsay runs with the intensity of 1,000 suns and that energy can be infectious for the rest of the team. When a team like Oakland tries to get physical with him, you don’t see Lindsay back down. Instead, he ramps up his game and takes it to the defense even harder.
Freeman was dancing a bit too much at times, but you can see when he’s decisive that something is there with him as a runner. He did a better job of catching the ball on Monday night, but that’s not the best part of his game. Freeman is a battering ram who I would like to see get more carries to soften up an opponent.
Sutton is showing flashes of what is yet to come. He has great size that he uses to his advantage, and Sutton is always fighting for the tough yards after the catch. He doesn’t mind taking a hit when catching the ball, and has crazy athleticism to snare passes he has no business gathering in.
“Courtland is a confident guy and we have confidence in him. We think he’s gonna be, and already is, a good receiver and is going to get better,” Fangio said after the game.
The young core of this Broncos team made some plays. I’d like to see more of an emphasis and better execution when getting these guys the ball.
Also, I would like more plays designed for Emmanuel Sanders early on. Force feed him the ball if you must, but the offense seems to run better when Sanders is getting the rock and making big plays.
I’ll try to keep the word count manageable here as there were a lot of bad things that plagued the Broncos against the Raiders. This section will be dedicated to the poor play of Isaac Yiadom.
There is no doubt the Raiders went into the game believing they could pick on Yiadom, and they were right. Without Bryce Callahan, who was inactive due to a foot injury, the Broncos had to turn to Yiadom and he was torched by multiple Raiders on more than one occasion.
Yiadom is a tough player, and I liked what he showed last year during his rookie season. He’s also a smart player who finds himself around the ball a lot. These are just a couple of the reasons why I like his game and his potential with the Broncos.
On Monday night, Yiadom seemed like he was either lost or trying to do too much. He’s a decent player who is still learning the nuances of being a pro, but Yiadom may think he’s got to make big plays anytime he’s out there.
Instead, Yiadom shouldn’t bite on double moves or play fakes his way. He needs to calm down and play with the high football intelligence he showed last year as a rookie.
This was a bad game for Yiadom, but if he’s a good corner then he will shrug it off and play better next time.
Why is it this team can’t find quality play on special teams? I could go on and on about the special teams problems of this team, but the ugliest part of this game was the plan on offense by offensive coordinator Rich Scangarello.
Starting the game with a tight end sweep was odd. You have a Pro Bowl running back in Phillip Lindsay, yet the first carry of the 2019 season goes to a rookie tight end? That wasn’t the only time that Scangarello tried to get too cute with things.
Later in the game, after building a bit of momentum with the rushing attack, Scangarello busted out an odd formation with a cluster of players spread out to the left side. The ball ended up being thrown to Royce Freeman for minimal gain.
There were some speculating that Scangarello was holding things back in the preseason, but if this was the type of play/formation he was keeping under wraps then he had better just run this offense as designed. This offense has been around since the 1980s and the legendary Bill Walsh. There’s not much to hide from this system and getting cute with trick plays and crazy formations doesn’t do the offense any good.
The Broncos needed to use Lindsay and Freeman more. The offense needed to involve Sanders a lot earlier than they did. I’m placing these problems (and other offensive woes) at the feet of Scangarello.