The Denver Broncos find themselves lost and stranded in an unfamiliar territory. For nearly three and a half decades the Broncos have been among the league’s most pristine franchises. The Broncos have finished with a losing record only five times since Broncos’ owner Pat Bowlen took over the team in 1984. On Sunday afternoon in Oakland, the Broncos lost their seventh straight game of the season in a 21-14 loss to the Raiders. The losing streak marks the longest since 1967.
The Broncos’ spirited week of practice involving multiple fights carried over into Sunday’s game. On the Raiders’ second drive of the game, Raiders’ wide receiver Michael Crabtree and Broncos’ cornerback Aqib Talib renewed their displeasure for one another in an early game brawl near the Broncos’ sideline. The fight turned costly as both Talib and Crabtree were ejected from the game.
“I don’t like it,” noted Broncos’ head coach Vance Joseph. “It’s unacceptable. We can’t lose our best players because of a personal battle. That’s a personal battle. This is about the Broncos. It’s unacceptable. We can’t have it. It’s non-negotiable. We can’t have it.”
The Broncos’ quarterback carousel made its way to former first-round pick Paxton Lynch who received his first start of the year. Lynch’s 2017 debut fell flat and told the familiar story of a team that has no identity offensively.
Following the firing of Broncos’ offensive coordinator Mike McCoy, it was said that Denver would look to simplify things on offense under new coordinator Bill Musgrave. The Broncos’ offense was just that; plain and conservative. The Broncos went three and out on seven of their first ten drives.
Coming into Sunday the Raiders’ passing defense ranked 27th while giving up nearly 255 passing yards a game to opposing quarterbacks. The lack of production caused the Raiders to make their own firing to their defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr. earlier in the week. However, the previously struggling Raiders’ defense held Lynch to a mere 41 yards and in the process caused their first interception of the season before Lynch left the game with an ankle injury late in the third quarter.
“I thought I played pretty well,” noted Lynch. “You know there was some plays that I had opportunities to make that I made. There was also some plays that I just missed, but this was the first week that I have played with all these guys in a while so it felt good out there to get out there and play with them. But, this obviously isn’t the result we all wanted.” Lynch is set to have an MRI on Monday.
The once starting quarterback Trevor Simian came in following the injury trailing by three touchdowns. In his replacement of Lynch, Siemian nearly brought the team back after throwing touchdowns to Broncos’ wide receivers Bennie Fowler and Cody Latimer. However, the comeback fell short after a late third down conversion by the Oakland offense which sealed the Denver loss.
It’s hard to say where the 2017 Denver Broncos got off track. How does a team go from 3-1 to then lose its next seven? Anyone who points to just one area is fooling themselves. No this Broncos team took more than a few wrong turns. One can only hope that a franchise with a burning desire and commitment to winning instilled in them can find some direction back to the road where Pat Bowlen always had them on.