For years Denver’s defense has been their backbone- a defense that was not only asked, but also expected to carry and cover up for the deficiencies of their offense. On Sunday in Philadelphia that back finally broke. Behind the arm of MVP front-runner Carson Wentz, the Eagles dismantled the Broncos to win 51-23.
Entering Sunday, the Broncos had a chance to take back their season. Instead, the Broncos looked like a team that has completely fallen apart. A season that started so well for first-year head coach Vance Joseph has quickly fallen into a dark abyss.
“It starts with me,” stated Joseph. “I’m the head coach here. It starts with me. I’ve got to fix this. We had a great week of practice in all three phases. We had a great plan so obviously missed something this week, but it always starts with me the head coach.“
What the Broncos missed were tackles. The number one rushing defense was nowhere to be found. The Eagles rushed for a combined 197 yards and three touchdowns. The 51 points scored by the Eagles was the most points given up by a Broncos team since October 24th, 2010 when Denver gave up 59 to the Raiders at home.
The change to Brock Osweiler was made to hopefully light a spark in a lifeless offense haunted by turnovers. The switch in quarterbacks was irrelevant. The turnovers continued and this time the defense couldn’t bail them out.
When asked if he felt like his team quit Joseph replied, “Well I told the team this after the football game. You know every man has to do a self-check of himself. Only each man would know what his heart said to him in the fourth quarter there.”
Before the game, it was said that Eagles’ quarterback Carson Wentz had not played against a defense quite like the Broncos. It turns out Denver hadn’t played against a quarterback like Wentz. The second year player had his way with Denver and finished with 199 yards and four touchdowns.
“They were just connecting on everything,” said Von Miller. “Third downs running the ball, everything. We didn’t play well at all period tonight, and yeah 51 points is tough, but I don’t feel like anybody you know quit or gave up on the game. It was just a really tough game.”
Half of the Broncos season is now over. After losing four straight, the 3-5 Broncos are well on their way to being on the outside looking in on the playoffs for the second consecutive season.
“We are just not a good football team right now” said Miller. “The positive thing about it is we still have time. We still have time to be great. We’re not a great football team right now, but that doesn’t mean we don’t have a great football team within us. We have all the pieces in place from top down, but today we’re not a good football team.”
After the 2015 playoff loss to the Colts, John Elway declared that he wanted to see his players “kicking and screaming.” The Broncos would take that to heart the next season by grinding their way to ultimately winning Super Bowl 50. Today, the Broncos find themselves in a hole that they’ll have to kick and scream to get out of.