Ex-champs must unload dead weight
In the end, the final words of the NFL champs were: No mas.
Know what’s saddest about the demise of the Broncos, sadder than the 33-10 loss to Kansas City that eliminated them from the playoffs? Denver quit.
Check that. The truth is worse. Denver did not come to play. The Broncos went down without kicking. And the only screaming to be heard was from fans who had their holiday dinner ruined by this pathetic performance.
“We need to move on to next year,” coach Gary Kubiak said Sunday night. After the loss, he told the Broncos that 2016 was history, it was a big disappointment and to get it out of their
system before the team plane touched down back in Denver.
OK, let’s take Kubiak at his word. Next year begins now; 2016 is all over except the pink slips. With only a meaningless finale against Oakland left on the schedule, the only question that remains for Denver: Who gets fired?
Can we stop pretending Trevor Siemian is the quarterback of the future? He’s not a star. He’s a Skittle. Sweet while it lasted, which was not for long. Props to Siemian for winning the job by default, when first-round draft choice Paxton Lynch quickly proved to be too raw to start as a rookie. But Siemian has been exposed as a quarterback uncomfortable working in the pocket. The development of Lynch needs to begin in earnest now, beginning with a start against Oakland on Sunday.
There’s nothing tougher than firing a friend, but Kubiak must either reassign offensive coordinator Rick Dennison or help him find a job with another football team. At the midway point of this NFL season, the Broncos were 6-2. While losing five of their past seven games, however, Denver has averaged 16.9 points per game, which is worse than embarrassing. It’s anemic.
Donald Stephenson and Ty Sambrailo, who took turns messing up at right tackle, must go. The one ugly image that nobody in Broncos Country will be able to block from memory is how this team couldn’t block anybody.
“We’re not playing well offensively. I’m responsible for that. I’ve got to do a better job,” Kubiak said.
Nobody dreams of a wet Christmas. A hard rain began to fall on Arrowhead Stadium an hour prior to kickoff. For the majority of the opening half, needing a victory to keep their playoff hopes alive, the Broncos acted as if they wanted to book a trip to the beach, curl up with a cognac by the fireplace, or be anywhere but here.
The Chiefs scored three touchdowns in the first quarter, on a ground-and-pound drive, a 70-yard bolt out of the blue by Tyreek Hill and an 80-yard rumble by tight end Travis Kelce on a 1-yard pass by quarterback Alex Smith, who seldom throws the football farther than he can spit.
A year ago, the Broncos were one of the greatest defenses in NFL history. But if they try to brag about this D, which has developed a nasty habit of sleepwalking into trouble, tell cornerback Aqib Talib to sit down and shut up. The Chiefs methodically marched 77 yards for a touchdown on their first possession, and only Cleveland’s defense has been more defenseless on the opening drive of games in 2016 than Denver.
OK, credit where it’s due. Without an interception and a big return to the K.C. 6-yard line opted for a fake.
McManus took the ball and ran through the slop. But he’s no mudder. I move quicker on my 3 a.m. old-man run to the bathroom than McManus did. He got dragged down. Denver did not score, did not even move the chains.
Safety Darian Stewart admitted the Broncos were going to have to take the abuse directed at fallen champs until next season. Linebacker Von Miller, however, vowed the team will be back stronger than ever.
“We’ve got great leadership from the top down,” Miller said. “John Elway is a mastermind.”
For the first time since Elway became general manager, Denver is playing for next year before this year is officially over. The Broncos are no longer the champs. They are an NFL team with more questions than answers.
Broncos outside linebacker Shane Ray walks off the field at the end of the game Sunday night at Arrowhead Stadium after Denver was eliminated from the postseason for the first time since the 2010 season, when Kyle Orton was the starting quarterback and Tim Tebow was a rookie. John Leyba, The Denver Post