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ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — The end is finally here.
But as the 2018 season comes to a close on Sunday evening, the 2019 offseason will quickly begin.
After suffering back-to-back losing seasons for the first time since 1972, vast changes are expected to sweep through the organization.
How drastic, and exactly what, will those initial changes be?
The BSN Broncos Crew breaks it down.
WHO HAD A MORE IMPRESSIVE SEASON: CHUBB OR LINDSAY?
You know who I’m going to say — Look, the prompt is “who had a more impressive season,” if it were “who had a better season” we might have a better debate… and I’d still probably choose Lindsay.
Bradley Chubb had a really great season for the No. 5 pick, but No. 5 picks are supposed to have really great seasons. Undrafted rookies aren’t even supposed to make the roster.
Lindsay not only made the roster, he became the team’s starting running back, the core of their offense and a leader of the team.
Phillip Lindsay’s rookie season is what comes up when you search for “impressive” in the dictionary.
Phillip Chubb or Bradley Lindsay — In terms of value, Phillip Lindsay blows this out of the water. In fact, he’s been the most valuable player in the entire NFL.
But in terms of production, the slight nod goes to Bradley Chubb.
At one of the most premium positions in the sport, Chubb tore the league apart as a rookie, approaching the rookie sack record — and still has a shot to break it on Sunday, although it’s a long shot.
What Lindsay did as a rookie was remarkable. What Lindsay did as an undrafted rookie is unheard of. Literally, it’s never been done before. It’s a shame his season had to end one week early.
Who truly made this team better? — This is really tough, Lindsay is seventh in the NFL in rushing, Chubb is tied for eighth in sacks, pretty damn special.
When put into the context of per-play production, Lindsay’s 5.4 rushing yards per attempt are out of this world and third best in the league. While Chubb is doing something that only a handful of rookie pass rushers have done before him, a group that includes Reggie White and Dwight Freeney.
The real difference comes down to what these rookies have done to upgrade the Broncos. Chubb has turned Denver into the sixth-best pass rushing ‘D’ in the league with 43 sacks—they were only 22nd a season ago with 33. As great as Lindsay’s been, the Broncos rushing attack has improved from 12th best in the NFL in 2017 to 11th, only averaging six more rushing yards per game than last year.
A great pass rusher is more valuable than a great back in the modern game, and Chubb’s impact while playing close to twice as many snaps as Lindsay has put him in rare company. Ultimately, it has to be Chubb.
WHAT WILL THE HEADLINES BE ON MONDAY MORNING?
New year, new
me coach — Change is inevitable. After Sunday, the Broncos will likely be 11-21 over the last two years, that just isn’t going to cut it, and it most certainly won’t in Denver.
There will also be headlines suggesting that this is Elway’s last chance to get the head coach-quarterback combo right before the Broncos are going to need some change up top.
There will also be headline suggesting the Broncos need stability from an ownership standpoint before any of this gets fixed.
John Elway is out… looking for a new head coach — It’s not all Vance Joseph’s fault.
But after the way the last two seasons have unfolded, Elway has to make this move to get a fresh start for the organization and show that what has happened over the last two years is just not acceptable.
There’s no reason to wait any longer than Monday morning to make this move and get the head coaching search underway immediately.
Historic low sparks major change — We are living in unprecedented times in Denver, Colorado, where the Broncos, for the first time in Pat Bowlen’s reign as owner, will have consecutive losing seasons.
Major changes are sure to follow to the coaching staff and roster, and it wouldn’t be unthinkable for John Elway and/or Joe Ellis’ roles with the team to be restructured in some way. Maybe Elway’s trusted front office consiglieri Gary Kubiak will call plays again, the options are endless, but major changes at the top must follow after reaching a new low.
That’s what Bowlen would have done, and it’s what Bowlen’s trust must do to restore the Orange & Blue to greatness, there’s no other answer to move forward than change.
WHAT’S THE BEST-CASE SCENARIO FOR DENVER IN THE GAME?
Nobody gets injured — All of this “we’re trying to win a game” malarky is a huge roll of the dice and, to be honest, is a huge gamble in terms of the future of the organization. Not only is winning the game detrimental to the immediate future of the team, playing the starters is far too much of an injury risk for next season. Serious injuries at this juncture can put all of next season in jeopardy.
The only thing that matters on Sunday is health.
Juuuuuuust lose — Look, winning doesn’t help in any respect right now. In fact, winning only hurts the Broncos and Elway in draft position.
Saying that, however, getting blown out at home to end the season on a four-game slide would be a massive black eye to the organization.
Thus, the ideal scenario is for the Broncos to compete with Philip Rivers in an exciting game full of offense, but come up just short.
After all, the No. 7 overall pick is much better than the 16th.
Increase draft capital — This isn’t a preseason game as some would like to make it out to be, there’s a division title on the line and the No. 1 seed in the American Football Conference at stake. As much as we’d just like for the season to be over already, this game matters and the Broncos better treat it like it does.
That said, the ideal scenario is a loss, simply because that would lead to a higher draft pick in each round. The difference between the seventh pick or the 16th is 500 points on the draft trade value chart, that’s the equivalent of a high second-round pick. That matters a lot, making losing on Sunday a must.
If the Broncos can do so while the youngsters on the team have strong performances, better yet, but all that matters is the ‘L.’ Al Davis’ motto was “just win, baby!” Broncos Country’s mantra on Sunday should be “just lose, baby.”
RESULT (CHARGERS -6.5)
Chargers 27, Broncos 13 — Since Emmanuel Sanders went down, the Broncos are averaging barely over 14 points per game… and that was with Phillip Lindsay.
Now, without Lindsay, I almost feel generous giving them 13 points. This one could be really ugly.
Chargers 26, Broncos 16 — The prospects of this game don’t look pretty for the Broncos. Not one bit.
Not only are the Chargers playing for the No. 1 seed in the AFC, but the Broncos are absolutely decimated by injuries on the offensive side of the ball. On top of that, they’ll be without their best offensive player, Phillip Lindsay, for the first time all year.
Scoring has been tough enough for Denver recently — putting up 14, 16 and 14 points in their three most recent contests — and it’s only going to be more difficult on Sunday.
And that doesn’t even take into account what Rivers can do to this depleted secondary.
Chargers 27, Broncos 21 — What an odd season.
Every time you feel like you know this team they find a way to surprise you. You think they’re good, then they’re bad. They crawl back into the playoff hunt only to lose three-consecutive games against bottom dwelling teams. There’s no figuring this team out, assume the opposite of what will happen will happen, that’s all we can do.
What we do know is that the Broncos are much better in the friendly confines of Mile High, which will make this a tighter game than you’d think.
The defense will play with pride, but ultimately the Broncos split the season series with LA.