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Broncos' Gordon says team had too much talent to not make playoffs

The Broncos' kicker and punter have also tested positive for COVID, but the team expects them to return by Saturday.

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — It’s always the top question that seeks the answer to a losing team.

Was there not enough talent among the players? Or were the players poorly coached?

Broncos running back Melvin Gordon III tried to squeeze through the crack during his Zoom press conference Monday. He didn’t blame the coaches. But he sure let it be known talent wasn’t the problem.

"It’s tough. I’m not going to lie to you," Gordon said about his Broncos that are 7-9 and not playing for a playoff spot this Saturday afternoon at Empower Field at Mile High in its season finale against the Chiefs. "A couple of my years with the Chargers we had some really talented teams. And this team was probably across the board … I mean, I was really frustrated, I’m not going to lie.

"After the Raiders game I was so mad, just because I was thinking about from the D-line, from the secondary, from our receivers, tight ends, the linemen we have, young but yet a lot of moxie. Running backs, I mean, even the 1s, the 2s, the 3s, even the guys that don’t get as much love, the linebackers, I mean, it was so frustrating because it’s such a well-built team. It’s a Super Bowl team."

Super Bowl team? Easy there, Melvin. Gordon probably didn’t intentionally omit a certain position – quarterback – but there is some belief the Broncos are a legit top 10 QB away from becoming a playoff team. Even if a Super Bowl-caliber team is a stretch. But we get Gordon’s point.

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Credit: AP
Denver Broncos running back Melvin Gordon (25) is tackled by Los Angeles Chargers defensive end Joey Bosa during the second half of an NFL football game Sunday, Jan. 2, 2022, in Inglewood, Calif. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

RELATED: Broncos eliminated from playoffs after losing to Chargers, 34-13

"You sit back and get frustrated because we’re so much better than what our record shows," he said. "It’s frustrating. It’s frustrating as a player. I know it’s frustrating as coaches, as an organization. It’s frustrating. We’re such a good football team. So talented across the board it is ridiculous. For us to be sitting here and not having a chance for the playoffs, all that work you put into the offseason, it’s tough to say the least."

Asked to explain why the Broncos wound up with another losing season, he said the players didn’t make enough plays. If it’s a bad throw? So what. Catch it and make it a great throw. If offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur calls a bad play. Big deal. Run it and execute it so it’s a good play.

"In my mindset I’ve got a lot of feelings towards a lot of stuff but we’ve got to be better," Gordon said. "We’re too talented. Especially in the month of November we made too many mistakes as a ball club to put ourselves in position to win. Just too many mistakes. … We played too sloppy in the back half to be the team we wanted to be. Those mistakes kind of cost us."

Gordon did defend the beleaguered Shurmur.

"I have the utmost confidence that coach Shurmur, he’s going to do what he needs to do to help get me and Javonte (Williams) rolling," Gordon said. "He’s a good dude, man, I know he takes a lot of criticism, you know, for a lot of stuff. And it’s tough. It’s tough. But I know he’ll make a way to get us the ball because we definitely put this team in the best position to help win football games."

Gordon arrived in a Denver on a two-year, $16 million contract. He stayed relatively healthy. Maybe more was expected than 986 yards one year and 808 yards with one game to go this year. But he did score 19 combined touchdowns and averaged 4.4 yards per carry so he wasn’t a bust.

Still, it would be a surprise if the Broncos brought him back. Javonte Williams is ready to become the 1A back and the way the league works, the Broncos would be wise to draft another to become his 1B back.

Gordon will find work as a free agent. He just may not get another $8 million a year deal.

"I don’t know my future," Gordon said. "It’s really up in the air. Having talked about it much with anybody. Hasn’t been the focus. The focus has been trying to get to the playoffs but if this were to be my last game here in a Denver Broncos uniform I’m hoping to make this special."

Credit: AP
Denver Broncos kicker Brandon McManus (8) celebrates his field goal against the Washington Football Team with punter Sam Martin (6) during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Oct. 31, 2021, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

Go for 2, go for it on 4th down

Broncos kicker Brandon McManus and punter Sam Martin tested positive for COVID-19 Monday. However, under new virus protocols that permits players to return after 5 days, the Broncos are confident their kickers will be activated in time to kick Saturday against the Chiefs. For now, the team is not planning on bringing in kickers or punters off the street for a tryout.

If not, maybe going for it on fourth downs and going for 2-point conversions is the way to go after losing 12 straight to the Chiefs.

Lock to finish

Teddy Bridgewater is not expected to clear the concussion protocol again this week so he finishes his season in Denver with a 7-7 record, 3,052 passing yards, 18 touchdowns and 7 interceptions. His 94.9 passer rating is the best single-season mark by a Broncos quarterback since 2014, when Peyton Manning registered a 101.5 mark.

(Where have you gone, Peyton Manning? Besides right in front of us every time we turn on the TV.)

Drew Lock will get his third consecutive start this Saturday against the Chiefs.

Credit: AP
Denver Broncos quarterback Drew Lock (3) after a play against the Las Vegas Raiders during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 26, 2021, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/David Becker)

Bronco Bits

Starting left guard Dalton Risner doesn’t need surgery on his injured right elbow but he will miss the final game of the season Saturday. Risner hyperextended his elbow on the fourth offensive snap of the game Sunday against the Chargers and didn’t return. Netane Muti will start in his place against the Chiefs. …

The Broncos cut outside linebacker Carlo Kemp of Boulder and defensive lineman Deyon Sizer of Centennial from their practice squad Monday just a couple days after they were signed. The Broncos lost 16 players to COVID last week. Most of those players are expected back this week so Kemp and Sizer were squeezed out.

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