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Broncos' Biggest Studs & Duds from 17-14 Loss to Browns

Time for the Broncos to take a long, hard look in the mirror.

The Denver Broncos are a rudderless ship. At the helm is a head coach that can't steer the ship. 

Fans would prefer an in-over-his-head Vance Joseph over an empty Vic Fangio at this stage. That, folks, is rock bottom. 

Denver's solid roster has been squandered by a coach that has delivered naught but empty promises. That ineptitude was on full display as the Cleveland Browns, led by a cavalcade of backups, rolled over the hapless Broncos 17-14.

Let's talk studs and duds. 

Stud: Courtland Sutton | WR

The offense did little all game, but Sutton made do with what he had to work with. In fact, he appeared to be one of the few Broncos playing with heart and pride. A hobbled Teddy Bridgewater and a completely abandoned running game could barely move the ball, but when it did, Sutton was typically the one doing the heavy lifting. 

Sutton had a nice 31-yard reception on the second drive of the game and had big catches on Denver's touchdown drives. He finished with a stat line that won’t impress anyone, per se, with five receptions for 68 yards, but that's more of a product of the overall offense, not Sutton’s effort.

Dud: Von Miller | OLB

If you guarantee that you will have a great game and then go out and do absolutely nothing, before exiting in quarter two with an ankle injury, you should receive some sort of dubious award. That's exactly what Miller did as the backup Browns offense effortlessly marched down the field like they were facing a Pop Warner team early in the game. 

Unfortunately, Miller was injured in the first half but before his injury, he did nothing that would suggest he was going to back up his boast. As he said after the game, his pride was more wounded than his ankle. 

Stud: Sam Martin | P

Martin got plenty of work with the anemic offense that Pat Shurmur refuses to change. Martin hit a massive 59-yard punt early on when a Broncos' drive stalled at their own 20-yard line and finished the game with an average 50.5 yards per punt on four attempts. Only 13 yards on returns means his net average was solid, too.

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Dud: Vic Fangio | HC

Fangio is an alleged defensive mastermind, but that's a sham. The Broncos' team plane should have left him behind in Ohio because this team would be better off coach-less. 

Hiring Fangio as the head coach has been a complete disaster and sticking with him for a third year only exacerbated it. Although filled with solid players, Fangio's defense this year is as soft as they come. His leadership of the team is non-existent and he has lost the team. The players look as though they're already planning their January vacations and their body language is screaming for a change in leadership.

Stud: Patrick Surtain II | CB

The Broncos have the highest-paid secondary in the league, but the rookie is outplaying all the pricey vets. Surtain allowed just six yards receiving and broke up two passes. Case Keenum appeared to be avoiding him most of the night, after testing him early, which indicates that Surtain is playing at a much higher level than expected for a rookie.

Dud: Justin Strnad | LB

Charmin is soft, but the Broncos' run defense is much softer. Nothing else can describe a defense that can’t even tackle a fourth-string running back and Strnad led the way in that impotent showing with this lackluster effort. The high hopes for him early in the season have faded quickly. 

Although Strnad possesses athleticism, his inability to read and react correctly is one of the reasons he fell to the fifth round despite the need for athletic inside linebackers in the NFL. The heap of NFL draft busts is filled with this type of player. The Broncos' defensive line didn’t help much on Thursday night, but Strnad was a big reason why D’Ernest Johnson ran for 146 yards and ran out the clock to secure a three-point win. The bad news is, the Broncos have nobody left to step in for Strnad.


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