The Denver Broncos meekly fell to hated divisional rival Las Vegas Raiders, 34-24, in Week 6, dropping its third-straight game. Now there appear to be issues abound.
Heading into the 2021 season, critics and naysayers figured it’d be the Broncos’ offense that would hold back the team. But as the schedule turned difficult to start October, pundits probably would’ve been hard-pressed to predict that the defense would be unable to hold its own.
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No Panic From Justin Simmons & the Broncos, Yet
The fact that the Broncos entered the 2021 season loaded — on paper — is what likely frustrates fans the most. One guy who isn’t too overly concerned, though, despite the three-game losing streak, is Pro Bowl safety Justin Simmons.
“I’ve got all the confidence in the world in this team. Three-game skid, whatever. That stuff doesn’t bother me,” Simmons said immediately following the game. “You got to have the mentality that guys are gonna make their plays, and we didn’t. That’s what it comes down to.
“We got our butts whupped. Obviously, there’s gonna be questions about the secondary. We have to play better. I have to play better. I’ll get this figured out. It can definitely get fixed. I’ll be better.”
Simmons then reasoned that the quick turnaround for the Broncos could actually be an elixir, since the team can’t dwell on the loss to the Raiders, because the Cleveland Browns (3-3) await, Thursday night, in a primetime affair.
“It’s always great to have a quick turnaround. After a win, you move on, and after a loss, you move on. You got to be able to turn around quickly,” said Simmons. “No one’s going to have their heads down. We didn’t make nearly enough plays on the back end.”
The Browns are reeling, too, so maybe that is a reason for Simmons’s optimism. Then again, he really doesn’t have a choice. So, when Simmons said he still believes in his squad, he was likely trying to convince himself as much as the fan base.
“I like us. I’m not gonna let anyone waver,” Simmons assured. “I’m confident in myself and my guys. It’s way too early into the season for that.”
Cecil Lammey, of DenverFan.com, doesn’t share the same hope, though, tweeting that the Broncos’ rudderless ownership isn’t holding the team accountable.
Big Plays Allowed Everywhere
Sure, injuries can be used as an excuse, as the Broncos (3-3) are missing key starters on defense, including Pro Bowl outside linebacker Bradley Chubb and inside linebacker Josey Jewell, but the amount of explosive plays allowed — particularly in the loss to the Raiders — is alarming.
The Broncos’ secondary allowed seven completions of at least 25 yards, including a back-breaking 51-yard completion to Bryan Edwards down the left sideline over Bryce Callahan. The play, a spectacular one-handed catch over the best slot cornerback in the NFL, came on 3rd-and-6, with 10 minutes remaining. Had the ball landed incomplete, the Broncos might’ve still had a chance, as they were still within striking distance, down 31-17.
It was a play that guys like Callahan usually make, which certainly has Broncos Country baffled as to why their once-vaunted secondary can’t come down with the 50/50 balls.
Zach Bye, co-host of 104.3 The Fan’s show, “Stokley and Zach,” pulled no punches in his criticism.
The NFL waits for no team. The NFL doesn’t have sympathy. So, come Thursday night, on a short week’s worth of preparation, these 2021 Broncos are going to need to do everything they can to stop the bleeding.
Follow Tony Williams on Twitter: @TBone8