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The Good, Bad, & Ugly from Broncos' 28-13 Win Over Chargers

There was a lot of good and some ugly bad.

In Sunday's 28-13 win, the Denver Broncos displayed the best version of themselves defeating the Los Angeles Chargers in decisive fashion. The streaky Broncos' defense nullified the Chargers' high-octane offense and created turnovers that stopped drives at key moments of the game. 

Denver's much-maligned offense was efficient and finally stuck with the running game. The Broncos seem to have a formula for winning football games: play dominating defense that creates turnovers and stay true to a balanced offense.

In order to remain relevant in the AFC playoff hunt, it’s important that the Broncos stick to this successful blueprint and not be seduced into trying to be something that they are not.

For now, let's break down the good, bad, and ugly from Sunday's action. 

The Good

The Defense

All three phases of the defense made an impact against the Chargers. Let’s start by giving head coach Vic Fangio credit for constructing a game plan that forced the Chargers to be one-dimensional. The Broncos' defense line stuffed the run, holding the Chargers to a paltry 72 rushing yards, forcing them to rely solely on quarterback Justin Herbert's talented arm to gain meaningful yards.

The D-line also dominated on passing downs, with Shelby Harris out for the game due to injury, reserve defense tackles McTelvin Agim and DeShawn Williams created interior pressure that forced Herbert to throw on the run. The pair racked up 1.5 sacks. The upfront pressure allowed Fangio to dial up risky blitz packages and keep his secondary in coverage.

Patrick Surtain II | CB

The rookie cornerback is a difference-maker. All questions have been answered as to why the Broncos selected him at pick No. 9 in the draft. Surtain had two interceptions that altered the trajectory of the game. The first interception came in the end zone, stopping cold a Chargers team in scoring position, while Surtain's second was a pick-six that took all the wind out of Herbert's sail. Opposing quarterbacks will begin to question throwing in Surtain direction.

The Offense

The offensive play was not perfect, but it was efficient. Running the ball effectively on first and second downs kept the offense in manageable third-down situations. The Broncos were 8-of-11 on third down.

The sparkplug to the team’s running game is rookie back Javonte Williams. His speed, power, and determination create positive energy for the entire team. Williams’ mentality is making him a fan favorite. 

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Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater took a positive step forward on his road to redemption after his gaffe against the Philadelphia Eagles. The veteran played through a painful shin injury to keep the offense on the field and took advantage of holes in the Chargers' defense. 

Based on Drew Lock’s poor play while Bridgewater was on the sideline nursing his shin, do not look for any QB changes throughout the remainder of the 2021 season.

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The Bad

Complete Lack of Big Plays

Although the Broncos are best when they prioritize running the football, offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur’s game plan still must create vertical passing opportunities that open the defense. Yes, the Chargers' reliance on zone coverage makes it difficult for opposing quarterbacks to take deep shots. I

But in three-wide receiver sets, the Broncos are lining up Courtland Sutton, Jerry Jeudy, and Tim Patrick. That's more than enough talent for Shurmur to push the ball down the field.

The Ugly

Jekyll and Hyde Identity

Are the Broncos the defensive juggernauts that can shut down offensive powerhouses like the Cowboys and Chargers? Will Denver stay disciplined with running the ball even when the opposition is making things tough? 

Time will tell whether the Broncos embrace their winning identity. This team's margin for making the playoffs is wafer-thin. Next Sunday’s nationally televised game against the Kansas City Chiefs will provide the best indication of the Broncos' true outlook.

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