This was easily the least enjoyable Broncos Mailbag to answer in years.
No one is happy, understandably so. Everyone is frustrated and more than a little angry, with good reason.
It’s not only that the Broncos have lost two in a row. It’s that they’ve lost back-to-back weeks to bad teams.
And it wasn’t just that they lost to two bad teams, but their quarterback, Trevor Siemian, didn’t play well for a variety of reasons, not all of which were his fault.
Nothing incites unrest like losing, losing to bad teams, and your quarterback isn’t moving the offense.
Ten points combined in two games to the 0-5 New York Giants and 2-4 Los Angeles Chargers is atrocious.
Less than 17 points in four consecutive games is a disturbing trend.
On to the discontent:
Will someone tell John Elway that Colin Kaepernik is still available and go get him – please! It seems the Broncos are suffering from systemic issues. Hard to put your faith in a kid quarterback after Peyton Manning.
Elle—If you signed Kaepernick now, he’d need a month to learn the Broncos’ offense. In a month, either Trevor Siemian snaps his slump and starts carrying the Broncos back to playoff contention, or the season is sunk.
If the first scenario occurs, you wouldn’t want Kaepernick. In the second scenario, it’s too late for Kaepernick.
But your point is well taken on Siemian following Manning, Elle. The Broncos missed the playoffs three out of their first four years after Elway retired as a quarterback.
Manning’s retirement has a chance to bring more acute transitional pain.
I like Trevor Siemian. No protection or running game makes any quarterback look disposable.
I wonder, though, if management considered Colin Kaepernick. Goes with Broncos image and he'd have something to prove. Great ratings and visibility (any increased visibility is good).
Craig—I like Siemian, too. Good guy. A decent quarterback but his confidence is shaken. In particular, he’s not handling pressure in the pocket, well. And there’s been a lot of pass-rush pressure lately.
As for your solution, Craig, Broncos general manager Elway went most of the 2016 offseason trying to entice Kaepernick to take a pay cut from $14.3 million to $7 million and come play with the Broncos.
In hindsight, Kaepernick should have accepted the Broncos’ offer and opportunity. He wound up with the $14.3 million, but his NFL earnings have ceased after he posted 16 touchdown passes against just 4 interceptions last year, but also a 1-10 record for a woeful 49ers team last year.
Had he played for the Broncos, he would have, first, had a chance to make nearly $14 million in incentives. And then, had he won with a team that finished 9-7 with Siemian last year, he could have still been playing for the Broncos and making big money. He’d have made that $7 million cut back and then some.
The Broncos have since moved on and signed Brock Osweiler in September to become their backup to Siemian, at least until first-round draft pick Paxton Lynch recovers from his right shoulder injury.
No doubt, Kaepernick’s National Anthem protest is a factor in his continued unemployment. So is the fact that -- like Tim Tebow before him – he’s considered too much of a celebrity distraction to fill a backup role. The backup QB is supposed to be seen, but not heard from.
And like Tebow – who never got another chance after winning six in a row for the Broncos, then a playoff game, in his only starting season of 2011 – Kaepernick is considered more athlete than pocket passer. Almost every NFL team uses a pro-style, pass-oriented offense with the belief you can’t win a championship with an option-style, run-oriented offense.
I hope Kaepernick gets offered a job before season’s end. Would he accept a relatively small, make-do contract? Would he accept an opportunity to become a backup? It is a little baffling he hasn’t had a chance to answer those questions, far as we know.
Osweiler deserves the first chance if the Broncos want to change quarterbacks.
The karmic irony of a team having enough time in the offseason to kick loyal lifelong fans out of their season seats; but somehow failing to notice that it did not have an NFL caliber QB or head coach is not lost on me this week.
Most of all I am struck by how arrogant an organization is when it believes the loyalty of its supporters isn't a commodity of value.
I will not be shocked in any way when this season descends into prolonged losing, coaching turmoil, locker-room dissent, sustained booing from the home fans, and eventually, empty seats at home games.
When that day dawns, I wonder if anyone in the team owned luxury boxes will look at those empty seats and think about the people they willingly, even eagerly, ejected from that very stadium.
--Phil Allen, (Former) Season Ticket Holder
Phil—As I understand it, the Broncos didn’t renew season-ticket accounts to those who didn’t go to one game in 2016. So those people weren’t going to games, anyway.
Look on the bright side, Phil. If this season does go in the tank, think of all the money the Broncos saved you! Think of the aggravation you were spared! Think of all the time you have on Sunday afternoons!
The Broncos may have done you a favor!
There's no doubt the offense is struggling this year. While I think the run game is improved, although too quickly abandoned for my liking, the passing game is still inept. All the blame goes to Trevor, but why is Mike McCoy not taking any heat? Everyone knows the offensive line has had issues, especially at the tackle position. So wouldn't it make more sense to use quick hitting plays, screens, slants, etcetera to get the ball out before pressure has a chance to get to the QB? It's the same game plan teams are using against the Broncos: Quick passes to get the ball out before Von and company wreak havoc.
I was excited when McCoy was named coordinator again, with visions of D.T. catching a quick receiver screen and galloping 80 yards for a touchdown. It was a staple when Manning and even Tebow were here under McCoy.
But I can't recall even seeing one this year. Not only will it get the ball out before Trevor gets pressured, it's also a short pass for him to complete to gain confidence. It might even get D.T. back into a rhythm. Place the bug in McCoy's ear!
--Jim Dillon, Copley, Ohio
Jim—I’ve seen a variation of the receiver screen to Demaryius Thomas a couple times this year but it hasn’t worked that well. It certainly hasn’t gone 71 yards for a touchdown, as it did in Manning’s 2012 debut against Pittsburgh, or for 78 yards, as it did to finish the scoring in Manning’s seven TD passing performance in the 2013 opener against Baltimore.
It does appear opponents do have that play scouted. Or maybe Siemian isn’t recognizing the right coverage to audible to that play, or maybe Thomas doesn’t have the explosion he had four or five years ago, or maybe the offensive line doesn’t have Ryan Clady or Zane Beadles ability to get out and block in space.
But no doubt, when an offense gets shutout for the first time in nearly 25 years, when an offense fails to score 17 points in four consecutive games, a large share of the blame has to be directed at the offensive coordinator. Mike McCoy, to his credit, has accepted responsibility.
Some of this offensive slump is the players, and some of it is the coaching. When it’s this bad, it’s not one person, or one thing that’s the problem. The ineptitude is collective.
What direction do we go in if we lose against the Chiefs but because of offensive struggles and Trevor has another miserable day could we see a change at QB? Will Paxton be ready soon and will this put VJ on a thin rope as we all know Elway is impatient?
Jay—I’d be surprised if Siemian doesn’t play well against the Chiefs. He may look small in the pocket, but he’s tough on the inside.
Vance Joseph is not on the hot seat. Paxton Lynch will not be ready any time soon. He has not even started practicing on a limited basis, yet. When he starts practicing, he'd have to be two to three weeks away from being game-ready.
OK so you all say we (stink). What is the problem? Now, be honest. Is it QB, offense, defense, special teams, head coach, other coaches?
If it is the QB, then maybe Elway is partly to blame. If he worried about QB position, then why not go out and get a good QB? Brock Osweiler is not that guy. They signed Osweiler early enough for Colin Kaepernick to get back in shape and learn our system. Is Elway partly to blame?
Let's talk about cause and effect this week. There are several different conversations out there. Please guide us.
Marcia—The dominant conversation topic is whether the Broncos should change their quarterback. Joseph said he’s not. He says the offensive as a whole is to blame for its woes, not just Siemian.
Problem is, this fan base knows a quality quarterback can carry a team. John Elway carried a bunch of overachievers to three Super Bowls before Terrell Davis and Mike Shanahan helped him win two championships.
Did Peyton Manning ever have a good offensive line? How good were tight end Julius Thomas and receiver Eric Decker after they went to quarterback-poor teams?
Siemian is decent as an offensive operator, but he is not a star. He cannot carry a team. I believe he should be on notice. His starting job should be on the line Monday night against Kansas City. This is the NFL. The Broncos’ offense has not been NFL-caliber. It’s been miserable to watch. If it continues this way, a change should be made.
BUT … I say Siemian plays well.