The Denver Broncos are dead men walking — in the sense that they have football left to play but have been eliminated from playoff contention. It's a helpless, frustrating feeling and it comes out in the wash typically by players speaking out.
Running back Melvin Gordon III has one game left on his contract and knowing that, along with Vic Fangio and company's precarious job security, the veteran did not hold back when he took to the virtual podium on Monday to vent his frustrations.
"You sit back and get frustrated because we’re so much better than what our record shows," Gordon said. "It’s frustrating. It’s frustrating as a player. I know it’s frustrating as coaches, as an organization. It’s frustrating. We’re such a good football team. So talented across the board it is ridiculous. For us to be sitting here and not having a chance for the playoffs, all that work you put into the offseason, it’s tough to say the least."
Gordon jumped the shark somewhat when he said the Broncos are a "Super Bowl team" but his telling of how he felt following the team's loss in Las Vegas last week revealed just how angry he is.
"After the Raiders game I was so mad, just because I was thinking about from the D-line, from the secondary, from our receivers, tight ends, the linemen we have, young but yet a lot of moxie," Gordon said. "Running backs, I mean, even the ones, the twos, the threes, even the guys that don’t get as much love, the linebackers, I mean, it was so frustrating because it’s such a well-built team. It’s a Super Bowl team."
We roll our eyes at the Super Bowl stuff but it's no secret that the Broncos are a quarterback away from being a contender in the AFC. I'd take it one step further than that, though.
The Broncos need more than that QB. This team needs a competent, innovative, and energetic head coach to complete its path to becoming a bonafide contender.
Surely, GM George Paton knows this. And after leading the Broncos to three straight losing seasons, Fangio will be relieved of his duties come 'Black Monday'.
Along with him, offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur will be shown the door. With all the criticism Shurmur has justifiably endured, it'll likely be a relief on some level to hit the bricks and move on to newer pastures.
Fangio squandered the highest-paid defense in the NFL (to open the season). From Justin Simmons and Kareem Jackson to Patrick Surtain II and Bryce Callahan to Von Miller and Bradley Chubb to Shelby Harris and Dre'Mont Jones. Fangio had talent at every level despite the injuries.
Shurmur's misuse of Denver's offensive talent was no less frustrating and arguably, more slap-dash than Fangio's defensive wastes. From Courtland Sutton, Jerry Jeudy, and Tim Patrick to Noah Fant and Albert Okwuegbunam, the weaponry at Shurmur's disposal was fierce.
Throw in Gordon and Javonte Williams at running back and an offensive line coached by Mike Munchak, and Shurmur should have been able to make some hay while the sun was shining, even with less-than-ideal quarterback talent. Whether it was Teddy Bridgewater or Drew Lock, I can think of many coaches who'd likely be able to get more blood out of that stone than Shurmur.
Still, Gordon went to bat for his offensive play-caller.
"I have the utmost confidence that coach Shurmur, he’s going to do what he needs to do to help get me and Javonte rolling," Gordon said. "He’s a good dude, man. I know he takes a lot of criticism, you know, for a lot of stuff. And it’s tough. It’s tough. But I know he’ll make a way to get us the ball because we definitely put this team in the best position to help win football games."
No doubt, when the Broncos establish the run, it corresponds to victories. If Lock and company are going to have a snowball's chance in Hades of finally snapping the Broncos' ignominious 12-game losing streak to the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday, it'll be incumbent upon Shurmur to find a way to get Gordon and Williams cooking.
As it stands, Gordon has totaled 808 rushing yards on 191 carries (4.2 avg) with seven touchdowns while throwing in an additional 27 receptions for 207 receiving yards and another pair of scores. He's a solid veteran running back and he still has some burst left on those tires.
It'll be interesting to see if the Broncos push to re-sign Gordon or whether Paton opts to pass the torch to Williams as the team's bell-cow in 2022. That decision will likely be influenced in part by whoever takes over for Fangio at head coach later this month.
Follow Chad on Twitter @ChadNJensen.
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