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Gut Reaction: Broncos Finally Cut Bait with Melvin Gordon

What took the Denver Broncos so long to make the right decision on Melvin Gordon?

After fumbling for the fifth time this season in a close game against the Las Vegas Raiders, the Denver Broncos waived running back Melvin Gordon Monday morning.

On Sunday, the Broncos became the first team in the NFL not to score 20-plus points on the Raiders and gave their former rival a six-game winning streak against them. Simply put, the game was another disastrous and embarrassing outing from the Broncos but was even worse as it happened at home in the Mile High City. 

This was the third time that the Broncos were up 10-0 against an opponent this season and went on to lose the game. Gordon’s fumble happened near the goal line on Sunday, costing his team an opportunity to score a touchdown prior to halftime as the Broncos fell to the Raiders, 22-16. 

The loss signals a complete sweep by Las Vegas and former Broncos head coach Josh McDaniels as Denver dropped to the bottom of the AFC West at 3-7. While Gordon goes through the waiver wire for Week 12, Broncos Country has sounded off on his release, specifically the timing of it. 

Let me share my gut reaction to Denver's no-brainer decision to cut bait with Gordon. 

Out of Work Because he’s Out of Touch

Although Gordon is in his ninth NFL season, you’d never know it based on his demeanor and attitude. Coming into Sunday's game, Gordon had four fumbles on the season after letting the football slip away from him multiple times against the Tennessee Titans, even though they weren’t officially turnovers. 

There was no doubt that Gordon was on the hot seat and has been responsible for game-changing turnovers that have extinguished offensive momentum. Instead, he chose to remain tone-deaf during post-game comments when asked about his teammates' response to his costly fumble.

“They were good. It is not like we did not recover the ball back. They were not probably too [upset],” Gordon said. “They were encouraging about it. It was just unfortunate that we missed the three points after that because now it looks worse. And then we lose the game and that gives people something to revert back to, but we were good. We still had two quarters left. We still had a chance to get points after that. It was not the end of the world. Unfortunately for me, it was not something that I wanted to happen.”

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The former Wisconsin back and college teammate of Russell Wilson has as much awareness as he does ball security (none). Gordon has never fit into this franchise and never connected to the fan base during his three seasons in Denver, making him one of the worst free-agent acquisitions in Broncos' history. He was initially signed to a two-year, $16 million contract in 2020 and returned on a one-year deal last spring worth $2.5M.

As for the team-friendly media who constantly praise Gordon for his “professionalism” in answering questions or describe him as a “standup guy,” perhaps they're confused. Gordon has been one of the biggest look-at-me players on this roster that would never show up for voluntary workouts and is constantly begging for the spotlight when times are good. 

Gordon has publicly thrown teammates under the bus and has demonstrated an attitude that suggests he’s above the team. For example, Gordon took victory laps in seasons past when his then-teammate Phillip Lindsay was injured, giving him the starting nod. There have also been liked tweets by Gordon calling for his release from Denver, in addition to multiple moments of pouting and acting immaturely.

In 2020, Gordon was arrested in Denver for speeding and DUI. The DUI charge was later dismissed. 

So, is it any wonder that a fan base would be apprehensive about embracing a player that is bigger than the team and makes dangerous decisions that could affect the lives of others outside of football?

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The bottom line is this: Gordon became a liability for the Broncos long ago. Whether that’s in fumbling (most in the NFL) or deciding not to pass protect for his quarterbacks over multiple seasons, the man has made his bed, and now it’s time for him to lie in it.

Nathaniel Hackett Finds a Scapegoat

While Broncos Country can get behind the release of a turnover-prone and overall bad egg at running back, the move came too little too late. Gordon’s fumbles didn’t happen overnight, and Hackett had the opportunity to dose out some accountability to the veteran during the Broncos' Week 4 matchup against the Raiders when he also fumbled the football, which was returned to the house. 

Instead of benching him, Hackett named Gordon the undisputed starter, much to the dismay of this fan base. 

“He's scored a lot of touchdowns down there for us," Hackett said following Sunday's loss to the Raiders. "He's had a lot of opportunities there and he's scored a lot of touchdowns for us. In that situation, he has to be smart with it. He can’t fumble. He knows that you just can't do that. That's unacceptable. We have to find a way to get the ball in the end zone and at that moment, it was Melvin. We had another running back go down, so we only had two, so he was in there and he had a fumble.”

Actually, Gordon hasn’t scored a lot of touchdowns for you, coach. He has just two scores this season while averaging 3.5 yards per carry, ranking 49th in the NFL. Gordon finishes this season as a Bronco with 318 rushing yards on 90 carries.

There’s the old saying in football, "You’re either coaching it or allowing it to happen." 

Well, in Denver's case, Hackett rewarded Gordon’s poor attitude, performance, and ball insecurity with multiple starts and quite literally cost his football team multiple games this season (Week 1, Week 4, Week 11).

Because Hackett’s a nice guy, Gordon continued his destructive path of splintering an already anemic offensive unit. It’s ignorant to call a rookie head coach naïve as that position requires the ultimate respect, awareness, and ability to have a pulse of the team.

I sincerely doubt that Hackett will be dismissed before the season is over, with seven games remaining. The last full season that the Broncos won three games or less was in 1967, when they finished 3-11.

Denver would have to win six of its final seven games to have a winning record for the first time in six years.

Don’t bet on it, Broncos Country.

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