The only consistent aspect of the 2020 Denver Broncos has been their inconsistency as the team just dropped its 10th loss of the season, falling to the Los Angeles Chargers 19-16.
If nothing else, the Broncos were consistent in their performance against the Chargers this season, as both game featured offensive inefficiency in the first half, leading to a double-digit deficit going into halftime, and punctuated by a massive second-half rally to keep the game within striking distance.
Only this time, the Broncos couldn’t stave off the Chargers, as Justin Herbert and company drove down for a late game-winning field goal. The flashes of competency are there for Denver, and there are times that it appears that the Broncos are definitely heading in the right direction but those flashes are few and far between, and because they're inconsistent, the lackluster results continue.
With that mind-bending thought process out of the way, what did we learn from the Broncos' Week 16 performance?
Jerry Jeudy has an Unprecedented Case of the Dropsies
In stark contrast to what we’ve seen from Jeudy over the past few weeks, the rookie first-round pick was the most targeted receiver on the field this week. Not that it did much good, as Jeudy was credited with dropping five of his targets, including a potential touchdown pass in the first half.
Jeudy had been previously fighting through an ankle injury, leading the team to use him as a decoy for a few weeks. But this week, it was clear and apparent that he was going to be a focus in the passing game.
Concentration drops were an issue with Jeudy coming out of Alabama, and those issues have reared their ugly head over the past few weeks. Not only did Jeudy drop multiple passes this week, but he also had a key drop last week on a critical third-down play.
Jeudy did finish with a solid stat line, catching six passes for 61 yards, but given his high target volume in the passing game and his untimely dropped passes, he could have had a massive, career day.
His frustrations were palpable. Let’s hope they were only with himself.
Same Lock, Different Key
Following the theme of the day, Drew Lock has been one of the most consistently inconsistent players on the Broncos roster. On one play, he’ll have you gushing with excitement, only to have you cowering in fear the next. His up-and-down play is one of the most polarizing conversations in Broncos Country today.
The one aspect of Lock's game that does remain consistent is turning the football over. Lock has now given the ball away in 11 straight games, the longest current streak in the NFL.
How many times has the Broncos offense had a nice drive going, only for Lock to throw an interception in the red zone? Once again, the second-year QB made a boneheaded play trying to force the ball into tight coverage while on the run, leading to an interception in the red zone.
It was almost a carbon copy of his interception against the Kansas City Chiefs a few weeks ago. Part of the discussion about Lock being the quarterback of the future has to revolve around his inconsistent decision making.
There is no doubt he has the tools to make the necessary plays and that he is showing strides in his process, but the same questions remain about his ability to properly read defenses and make the right decisions with the football.
It’s easy to see that he has the ability to make every throw on the field. He's a playmaker trying to make plays.
It’s also easy to see that he is inconsistent in doing both of those things. Just as his GM, head coach, and offensive coordinator emphasized last week, consistency is all they ask for.
McManus' Funk Continues, Costs Team
After signing a massive contract and being one of the most consistent kickers in the league to open the season, Brandon McManus has missed a handful of field goals and extra points over his last two games. McManus has missed field goals inside of 50 yards at times throughout his career, but on Sunday, he missed back-to-back attempts within 45 yards while hitting the same upright on both kicks.
McManus missed last week’s game as he was in a 'high risk/close contact' COVID-19 protocol but he also missed a pair of extra points against the Carolina Panthers the game prior. Pre-game warmups showed him missing a 45-yard field goal, which served as a harbinger for his day at the office.
McManus' missed field goal this week was the difference in a tie ball game at least, and could have changed the outcome of the game as a whole, as it put the Chargers in positive field position on their next drive. Los Angeles would score a touchdown on the ensuing possession and would go on to win by a margin of three points.
McManus made fun of himself a few weeks ago for missing those PAT attempts, but they ultimately didn't matter as the Broncos beat the Carolina Panthers. That missed field goal attempt in L.A., though, turned out to be a 10-point swing and was a primary factor in the Broncos losing the game.
McManus did connect on two field goals from 50-plus yards, which, again, points to the maddening theme of the Broncos' season (inconsistency). But there is no way to spin a joke coming out of this one.