ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Apparently, the frustration visibly demonstrated by some Broncos’ defensive players during the game Sunday leaked into the locker room afterwards.
Behind closed doors, the defense let it be known it wasn’t pleased it, first, got trounced again by the Kansas City Chiefs, and that it got hung with 43 points even though offensive and special teams miscues contributed to 31 of those points, either directly through touchdown returns, or indirectly through short fields.
And to boot, the Denver defense forced a turnover that gave its offense a short field to score it’s only touchdown until fourth quarter garbage time in the Chiefs’ 43-16 rout, Kansas City’s 10th consecutive win against the Broncos going back five years.
Broncos tight end Noah Fant said Tuesday the defensive gripes were justified.
"There were definitely words said in the locker room after the game," Fant said Tuesday in a Zoom media video conference. “Obviously, I’m not going to go into detail, that stays in the locker room. But they have every right to be frustrated and upset.
"From my perspective, being an offensive player, I put a lot of the load on us, right? Kansas City has one of the most powerful, high-octane offenses in the league. And they were holding them to field goals, getting three-and-outs on the them. And we’re not living up to our ability on offense.
"If I was in a defensive player’s position I would feel the exact same way."
It was Broncos’ outside linebacker Bradley Chubb who was the first to animatedly express his anger on the sidelines after Tyreek Hill scored in the fourth quarter to put the Chiefs up, 37-9.
"Passion, man," Chubb said Tuesday when asked what he was so upset about. "Just passion. Losing to your supposed rivals by 20, 30 points, that’s not what you want to do. That’s not football, that’s not fun.
"I’m trying to be one of the guys who changes this losing we’ve been doing the past couple years. I’m trying to be the catalyst and have guys around me who are trying to do the same thing as well.
"It’s not going to happen overnight. It’s not going to happen by guys letting things slide, and letting things go unsaid."
Defensive lineman Shelby Harris also boiled over late in the game but his emotions were directed first at an official and secondly at head coach Vic Fangio. The two talked it out after the game, and all seemed cool.
Problem is, this is not a new story. Denver’s defensive players have been frustrated with the Broncos’ offense since cornerback Aqib Talib said he didn’t want to hear a postgame locker room speech from left tackle Russell Okung following a 16-3 home loss to New England late in the 2016 season.
That was the year after the Broncos went 12-4 by winning several close games and the defense primarily carried the franchise to a Super Bowl 50 title.
Since 2015, the Broncos have missed the playoffs every year with records of 9-7, 5-11, 6-10, 7-9 and they are off to a 2-4 start this season. The primary culprit has been an offense that has averaged an anemic 20.8 points in 2016 (22nd in the league), 18.1 in 2017 (27th), 20.8 in 2018 (24th), 17.6 in 2019 (28th) and now 19.3 through six games this season (28th).
"Those guys have every right to be heated, upset," Fant said. "This is a time when the offense has to look in the mirror and say, ‘We’re having help from our defense, but what can we do? What can we do to points on the board? If we aren’t living up to that expectation than we have to change something around and get to that point."
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