Teddy Bridgewater’s ‘Unforgivable’ Play not Only Reason for Broncos’ Loss

Getty Denver Broncos' quarterback Teddy Bridgewater should not be let off the hook for his non-tackle, but the run defense displayed even worse execution in defeat.

While Denver Broncos‘ fans have every right to still be stewing over Teddy Bridgewater’s ‘unforgivable’ non-tackle in the team’s demoralizing 30-13 home loss against the Philadelphia Eagles, there were a lot more that went wrong that contributed to the defeat.

Bridgewater initially gave a tepid excuse for his lack of effort during his post-game media availability, November 14, but has since owned up to his “unacceptable” decision.

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The social media pitchforks and torches were certainly out in search of Bridgewater, in real time and immediately following the loss, but for those that paid attention to the entirety of the game, they know full well that Bridgewater’s ‘business decision’ wasn’t the ultimate cause of the loss.

Ran Over

Bridgewater’s overall play wasn’t that bad, as he went 22-of-36 for 226 yards, without a turnover. But the apathetic attempt will always be Bridgewater’s scarlet letter in a Broncos’ uniform, as he betrayed Broncos’ Country trust and belief in him.

That play might’ve been a microcosm of the 2021 Broncos’ season, but it was far from the defining issue in the loss.

The same Broncos’ defense that dominated Ezekiel Elliot and the Dallas Cowboys one week prior, holding the Pro Bowl running back to a paltry 51 rushing yards, was the same unit that posed as imposters in the Eagles game. Philadelphia destroyed Denver’s front-seven defense to the tune of 214 rushing yards, including 53 yards by quarterback Jalen Hurts, the top rushing QB in the NFC. That total was a season-worst for the Broncos. Jordan Howard led the Eagles with 83 yards, while backup Boston Scott added 81.

Head coach Vic Fangio admitted during his post-game press conference that the Broncos have “struggled to stop the run consistently this year,” and that he was “was worried about that coming into the game, [which] proved itself out.”

The Eagles had seven runs of at least 10 yards, and prior to November 14, the Broncos had given up at least 140 rushing yards twice — both losses. The Pittsburgh Steelers tallied 147 yards in Week 5, and the Cleveland Browns topped that with 182 rushing yards in Denver’s Week 7 Thursday night primetime defeat.

Denver has a week to remedy that issue — if they even can with all of the injuries on the defensive side of the ball — as the Los Angeles come calling, November 28, before a road test at the now-rejuvenated Kansas City Chiefs, December 5. The good news is that neither the Chargers (5-4) nor the Chiefs (6-4) are in the top-10 of rushing teams. The former is ranked 11th, while the latter is ranked 21st. The bad news is that the Broncos (5-5) aren’t a stalwart anymore in that category, as their 1,099 rushing yards allowed is middle of the pack with a 15th ranking.

Right Call, Wrong Player

Zack Kelberman of Mile High Huddle wasn’t ready to let Bridgewater off the hook for his non-play, but what he tweeted was perhaps a bigger issue for the Broncos.

Javonte Williams is the league’s best at breaking tackles, so Kelberman’s argument makes total sense. Pro Football Focus has rated Williams as king of would-be tacklers’ misfortunes, meaning if the powers-that-be at PFF were on the headset, they likely would’ve called Williams’s number.

That $8 million-running back that Kelberman alluded to is Melvin Gordon III, who instead got the call on that fateful 4th-and-1 attempt. The rest is Broncos’ infamy.

Maybe Fangio and offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur will take the upcoming bye week to find the offense’s identity, and at the same call upon their prized rookie running back in key moments going forward. Broncos Country can only hope.

Follow Tony Williams on Twitter: @TBone8

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