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Broncos mailbag: What officials missed in Lindsay melee

While there's no way to officially review a call like the one that got Lindsay ejected, we can still review it here in the Broncos mailbag.
Credit: Ron Chenoy, USA TODAY Sports

Tuesdays are when the coaches put their next game plan together, the players are off and we have some form of the Broncos' mailbag.

Mike,

What a crazy game! Some points:

1. Agree with you on past assessment on how team will finish.

2. Case Keenum seems uncomfortable at times but this should get better (I still believe he is an improvement).

3. With everything that went wrong (Sunday) they still had a chance.

4. I believe this is a better team than last year. (One exception is the secondary with the injuries)

Issues:

1. Help Garett Bolles with adjustments when it's obvious he is struggling with someone like Terrell Suggs (who is a great player).

2. The issues in the secondary may not be a quick fix with all these injuries. (Thisisbiggest issue and worry).

3. We really live and die with the D-line pass rush (Von Miller & company) especially with a hurt secondary.

With all the bad things that happened (Sunday) they should have been blown out -- yet they still had a chance.

And I think they can rally around lessons learned and be competitive in the AFC West.

Looking forward to your next report!

--Mike MacGuire

Mike -- You make good points. My prediction was 8-8. I think the Broncos are better than last year and 8-8 is three wins better.

But I wasn’t ready to leap to, say, 11-5 and the playoffs because I’m not sure how this team will respond when it takes on a little water. Last season, the team sunk to adversity. Quickly.

The Ravens’ loss exposed some familiar concerns. But a home win against the Kansas City Chiefs on Monday night – and beating the league’s worst defense would hardly be the biggest upset in NFL history – would be the kind of confidence booster that could allow them to reach the week 10 bye week with a winning record and eventually prove me wrong.

Why couldn’t we (Vance Joseph) challenge the ruling on the field that disqualified Phillip Lindsay?

If we’re going to review all scoring plays, why shouldn’t we review all plays that disqualifies a player?

It was stupid to jump into the fray, but with no whistle blown and no declaration of recovery, can the play be considered over?

--Jim Ingolia

Jim – It’s the type of subjective, judgment call that’s not reviewable – kind of like pass interference – but that won’t stop us from reviewing it.

What can’t be disputed is referee Ronald Torbert and his crew botched their call on the fumble recovery melee.

What should have been called: Broncos’ guard Ron Leary jumped into the pile way late and should have been flagged for unnecessary roughness; Baltimore safety Marlon Humphrey came in even later and landed a more potent body blow and should have been flagged for unnecessary roughness; Lindsay should have been flagged for coming in late, too.

It did look like Lindsay threw a couple jabs – not at the ball, as he said afterwards, but at the Ravens’ No. 99, Matthew Judon, who – in what I thought was a dirty play – first threw his full, 261-pound body weight on Lindsay and then forcefully pushed his hand on Lindsay’s throat.

Lindsay gave two quick, open-handed – I thought they were open-handed – jabs at Judon to get his hand off his throat.

Tough break for Lindsay. Judon was the perpetrator but it’s always the retaliatory strike that gets caught. I don’t fault the officials for ejecting Lindsay because it did look like he threw punches. It’s too bad the officials didn’t see Judon’s dirty play but it’s clear by now the stripes didn’t keep their composure amid the chaos.

But here was the underrated, yet highly significant aspect of how the call was botched: It should have been offsetting penalties, ball at the Ravens’ 37, where Broncos’ right tackle Jared Veldheer recovered the Terrell Suggs strip-sack fumble on Case Keenum.

Instead, Lindsay got the only penalty, which was a farce, and therefore the infraction was solely against the Broncos. The ball was placed back 15 yards from the spot of the foul.

Credit: Ron Chenoy, USA TODAY Sports

The Broncos should have had third-and-13 at the Ravens’ 37. Instead, they were given third-and-28 at their own 48.

From the 37, the Broncos could have run Royce Freeman for 5 yards and had Brandon McManus kick a 50-yard field goal. Instead, the Broncos had to send out Marquette King for a punt.

All of this occurred a couple plays after Chris Harris Jr.’s touchdown return was called back by an absurdly late illegal block call against Domata Peko Sr., who was trailing the play by 20 yards.

This unfortunate series of events in a short period cost the Broncos the game. Torbert and crew should receive a harsh evaluation from the folks in New York.

Why do so many people give you crap? Thanks for being a reliable reporter.

--Leaean Bird

Leaean—You made me smile. People give me the business? I can sense it sometimes, but I’m mostly unaware. The people I run into on the street or grocery store or eating establishments are always nice.

Reporting information is an honorable endeavor, Leaean, but there’s a lot of “blame the messenger” out there, from all sides.

I do understand it’s more vicious in the social media coliseum. I liken it to road rage – something about the shield from direct person-to-person contact makes us less civilized.

Occasionally, a well-meaning friend will point out a cheap shot someone else directed at me and I’ll take a look and I might fire a shot back in the name of defending one’s honor.

Usually, I don’t, but regrets? I’ve had a few. The Broncos’ beat is not for the thin-skinned. Now, if you’ll forgive me, I have to interrupt this mailbag, so I can break the news that the Broncos signed a punter to their practice squad.

The penalties and the mistakes come back to the head coach not having the players focused and mentally prepared for the game. My question is WHO IS THE LEADER OF THIS TEAM on the field? Who is the spokesperson to rally the troops?

--G. Pen

Pen – There is no question, 13 penalties for 120 yards – six of which potentially cost the Broncos up to 38 points – was a sensational display of undisciplined football. To Joseph’s credit, he accepted responsibility.

As for the on-field leader, it’s Case Keenum. He is the quarterback and the clear leader of the offense. But here was the problem Sunday: Keenum wasn’t playing well.

It reminded me of something manager Jim Leyland once said while I was covering the Rockies’ baseball team in 1999. You have to be careful about naming captains, Leyland said. If your captain is in a slump and is busting up the water coolers with his bat in fits of frustration, do you want the rest of the team following him?

Credit: USA Today Sports

The 162-game season is why baseball teams don’t usually have captains – all those games mean so much failure.

Back to the Broncos and their defense, Von Miller is the guy everyone looks to because he is their best player. He doesn’t have to say anything. The team just looks at him and expects him to take over.

The problem Sunday was Miller didn’t have a sack and I found it a little odd he was on the sideline for more than 20 plays. So, he wasn’t in his usual position to lead.

But by and large, the best leaders are the best players. I mean, the backup guard who doesn’t play may have all the leadership characteristics but if he stands on a box and starts delivering a motivational speech, the other 52 guys will tell him to shut up and step down.

Will the Broncos trade for a corner?

--Dan Birk

Dan – The trade deadline is Tuesday, October 30, two days after the Broncos play their eighth game overall, and second game against Kansas City. If the Broncos leave Arrowhead Stadium with a 5-3 record, general manager John Elway would be more inclined to give up a draft pick for a quality cornerback who presumably would be in the final year or two of his contract.

If the Broncos are 3-5 at that point, Elway would be less inclined to give up a draft pick.

Elway knows he needs another quality cornerback. Maybe the play of Adam Jones, Isaac Yiadom and maybe Tramaine Brock against the Chiefs this Monday will change his mind.

Credit: Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 24, 2017; Orchard Park, NY, USA; Denver Broncos general manager John Elway on the sidelines prior to a game against the Buffalo Bills at New Era Field.

But just because you need a cornerback doesn’t mean you should give up a second-round pick for a guy unfamiliar with your system and probably has his own issues if he’s available.

Elway will look to make a deal, or claim a cornerback off waivers, or sign one off a practice squad, but he’s not going to going to make a trade that harms the team in the long run.

Some fixes are tougher in-season than others.