We asked a Broncos expert to tell us more about Vic Fangio, Drew Lock, and the direction of the Broncos.
Don’t be deceived. The Denver Broncos feel good about the direction they’re headed. Despite the 2-3 losing record and the cloud of uncertainty outsiders might place over head coach Vic Fangio, quarterback Drew Lock and the Broncos roster, the internal feeling about the team’s future is a confident one.
As the Kansas City Chiefs prepare to visit the Broncos for the first of two matchups this season, the franchises look like they’re headed in opposite directions given the record and recent history. The Chiefs, after all, allowed a scant 9 points in two games to Denver just a season ago. Now they’re 5-1 and ready for another visit on Sunday.
The Broncos, however, just put away the New England Patriots on the road and are getting a number of injured players back in Week 7. We recently asked Broncos expert Sayre Bedinger of Predominantly Orange to tell us more about Denver’s future and his expectations for Sunday.
What’s the read on Drew Lock at this point? Does he seem healthy and ready?
As far as Drew Lock’s health is concerned, he definitely seems ready to go. He came out slinging against the New England Patriots and had a lower completion percentage because the Broncos took a lot of deep shots throughout the game. Some of those passes were dropped, one was picked off, but overall Lock seemed comfortable out there with his shoulder, taking some hits and getting the ball downfield with accuracy on most passes.
The injuries have really sidelined expectations for the Broncos, but what are the internal expectations? Do those remain the same?
This is a great question, because jobs are dependant on it. I think John Elway would have a hard time justifying firing Vic Fangio for not winning games considering the best player on both offense and defense have suffered likely season-ending injuries. There is no question that everyone wants to win, but the Broncos know their offense is the youngest in the NFL, there was not a normal offseason, and there will be growing pains with a young quarterback missing his top WR. Vic Fangio certainly still believes he can put together a competitive team, and the defense still has pieces in place to stay close in almost any game.
Which players have really stepped up in the wake of other injuries that we should watch for?
The top guy in this category has to be wide receiver Tim Patrick. Against the Buccaneers, he caught his first TD of the season. Against the New York Jets, he had his first 100-yard receiving game as an NFL player along with another touchdown. Against the Patriots, he once again eclipsed 100 yards. He’s kind of on a tear right now.
Defensively, Michael Ojemudia has really stepped up in the absence of A.J. Bouye (who also could be back this week) and has looked like one of the best defensive rookies in the league. Ojemudia has been tremendous in Vic Fangio’s primarily zone defense.
How are you judging Vic Fangio with just over a year under his belt as HC?
Considering injuries and the QB situation, I’m judging Vic almost strictly by his defensive game-planning and game management skills, but there are intangible qualities you can get a feel for with the team even from afar. Is Fangio fostering a healthy culture, even when the team isn’t doing well? Two of the Broncos’ backup players—Andrew Beck and Anthony Chickillo—were recently caught on a hot mic talking to each other about how fun of a team this Broncos group is to be part of. They mentioned how it’s a great group of guys and I think that sentiment is true all over the roster.
Since Super Bowl 50, the Broncos have struggled with the culture and identity of their team. I think Fangio has given this team new confidence defensively, and Drew Lock has really inspired the entire roster to believe that brighter days are ahead.
As a defensive game-planner, Fangio is sensational. As a game manager, he’s had some iffy moments, but he has taken ownership for those. I think with the way the Broncos have played over their last 10 games (6-4 dating back to 2019) including now two signature wins over the Houston Texans on the road and the New England Patriots in Foxboro, it’s clear that Fangio is part of the solution.
Any final predictions for the game?
I want so badly to predict that the Broncos will end a nine-game losing streak to the Chiefs. The fact of the matter is, the Broncos are going to need a breakout performance from Drew Lock and the offense to do so. The Chiefs are just too cohesive, too multiple, and too good to have anything less.
We’ve seen the Broncos put up 37 points this season, but it was against the hapless Jets. Still, they did it with Brett Rypien. We’ve also seen them hold a team like the Titans to 16 points. The Titans haven’t scored less than 30 points in any other game this season.
I think the Broncos are good enough that on a good day they can beat the Chiefs. With so many crucial players coming back healthy for Denver this week, how about a Broncos win to end Kansas City’s nine-game winning streak?