5 Takeaways From the Broncos' 20-3 Loss to the Bills
Just when you think that the 2019 Denver Broncos couldn't be any more embarrassing to watch, they come out and lay their biggest egg of the season, losing to the Buffalo Bills 20-3.
We've witnessed offensive ineptitude from this Broncos squad over the course of the first 10 games of the season, but Sunday afternoon's effort has to take the cake for the worst performance of the season.
Quarterback Brandon Allen was under constant duress from not only the Bills pass rush, but also a blustery Buffalo wind that accentuated his lack of arm strength.
After gaining just 134 total yards of offense, it's time to bury this year's version of the Denver Broncos. They're done. Finito. Kaput.
It's time to look towards the future. As bleak as it may seem at this point.
What did we learn from Denver's eighth loss of the season? Here are the biggest takeaways from yet another embarrassing and frustrating loss.
Allen Isn't the Answer
Again, it's time to get a glimpse of the future of this team, and Drew Lock is the biggest piece to building this roster moving forward. Teams need a viable franchise QB in order to have long-term, sustainable success. We already knew Joe Flacco isn't the answer, and today we most certainly found out that Allen isn't even worth considering.
Allen was atrocious to watch. With mental breakdowns, slow processing and an incredibly weak arm in the Buffalo wind, he all but proved that the time is now. Lock has to be the starting QB for this team moving forward. And that needs to begin on Monday.
A Defensive Dud
On this week's episode of the Dove Valley Deep-Divers podcast, Erick Trickel and I broke down the inefficiencies of the Broncos secondary, particularly at the cornerback position. Once again, those inefficiencies reared their ugly head as Bills QB Josh Allen had a tremendous day throwing the football.
Allen torched both Davontae Harris and Chris Harris, Jr. for touchdowns, getting slot WR Cole Beasley involved at will over the middle of the field.
But it wasn't just the passing weaknesses and inefficiencies on display.
Denver came into Sunday's game with the seventh-best defense in third-down efficiency. But Buffalo was able to convert 8-of-16 chances on the money down, including a 5-for-7 mark in the first half. Not only were the Bills successful on third down, but at least three of those conversions came on 3rd-&-10 or more.
That's not a typical showing from a Vic Fangio-led unit, and was arguably the worst this defense has played from start to finish in any contest this season.
Broncos' Lack of Viable WR2 Exposed
With as great as WR Courtland Sutton has been this season, it was only a matter of time before teams would rotate and bracket him in coverage to shut down the Broncos passing attack. Bills CB Tre'Davious White blanketed Sutton for the majority of the game, and nobody else in the Broncos receiving corps could manage to separate themselves from the rest of the heard.
Sure, Allen's struggles combined with the offensive line being completely unable to hold up in pass protection were a factor, but the fact that TE Noah Fant led all Broncos receivers with just three catches speaks volumes to just how impotent this Broncos receiving corps is outside of Sutton.
Scangarello Fails to Make Critical Adjustments
Regardless of the play on the field, the onus falls upon the coaches to place the Broncos in the best situation to win. Offensively, the decision-maker who could influence events was none other than first-year coordinator Rich Scangarello.
From his blatant misuse of Joe Flacco to start the first half of the season to his incessant need to be too cute with his play calls in critical down-and-distance scenarios, Scangarello has held the Broncos offense back as much as — if not more than — the lack of execution of his players.
On Sunday, those issues persisted. The complete lack of adjustments from Scangarello to at least try to stop the ferocious Bills pass rush, combined with his failure to place Allen in a situation to succeed when throwing into the wind, or to continue to chip away at the Bills run defense, was egregious enough to warrant serious scrutiny on the job he's doing.
Scangarello's inconsistencies over the course of the season have been just as bad as the players', and he needs to be held accountable as well.
Say 'Hello' to a Top-5 2020 Draft Pick
If you're looking for any single silver lining to losing to Buffalo, it's this.
With victories by the New York Jets, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and Washington Redskins, combined with Denver's loss, means the Broncos currently hold the No. 5 overall selection in the 2020 NFL Draft. This lines up perfectly with Denver's biggest roster needs, as the general consensus has the top prospects sitting at the offensive tackle, quarterback, cornerback, and wide receiver positions in the 2020 class.
If Denver does, in fact, start Lock for the rest of the season and the offensive struggles continue, the team could be potentially looking at a franchise LT or a much-needed WR2 for whoever lines up under center next year. Denver would also be within striking distance of one of the top QBs in the 2020 class.
Now that this season is almost certainly under wraps, setting themselves up for a future foundation has to be the Broncos' direct focus moving forward.
We already know that Garrett Bolles isn't a viable and trustworthy player at the left tackle position and that Denver needs a secondary pass-catcher outside of Sutton. By getting Lock on the field as early as possible, the Broncos can also find out if they need to address the QB position come April.
With a top-5 selection, any of those three positions look to be ripe for the picking.