This game went about the way most Denver games went last year and will probably continue to go this year – that is to say the typical Denver flow in a game is a solid but uninspiring offense backstopped by a lazy-great defense.
I call the Broncos a lazy-great defense because they often give up a score early, because they've rested on their laurels since the Super Bowl…giving up early scores way too often in 2016, digging themselves a small hole to start games. You see flashes of defensive greatness still…where they just manhandle opponents in the course of a game but then someone is out of position or has a stupid penalty and suddenly the other team steals the score when they shouldn't have. That landed punch by the opponent seems to fire up the lazy-great defense…and when motivated, you can hardly move the ball on this team. But the second they get complacent at any point, you can score on them. Denver's defense should be better than it is – and it's already very good.
In this game, the Broncos were walking away with it because their defense was stifling the pathetic Chargers' offense, but then all of the sudden a breakdown on defense in the 4th quarter…after three quarters of dominance – and suddenly the Chargers snuck back into the game. Once the Broncos got that jolt/kick in the pants, they snapped out of lazy and went into 'elite mode' and utterly squashed the Chargers last-ditch effort to win this game. The Broncos should've won by 20+ points, but instead they barely hung on at the end to win (and not cover). The Broncos will go as far as their lazy-great defense takes them. If the Broncos can ever tap back into what they had in 2015, they do have an outside shot at the Super Bowl. This Vance Joseph debut heading up the team didn't strike me as 'headed to the Super Bowl'.
The Chargers made so many mistakes and had such a befuddling Anthony Lynn game plan, as expected, I'm not even going to bother writing about the Chargers' offensive plan too much here (but I probably will). All I'll say is – Anthony Lynn confirmation acquired. Philip Rivers – the same overrated quarterback he's been for several years now.
Do you know who loves Anthony Lynn? Rex Ryan.
Usually, the second Monday Night Football game is handled by Chris Berman and someone else (lately Trent Dilfer). I thought those games used to be some of the worst commentated games I've ever laid ears on. I was mistaken. ESPN has topped themselves with Rex Ryan.
Rex Ryan as the game analyst for ESPN was far and away the most awkward, boring, nonsensical, wildly nervous game commentating I've ever heard in my life. I'm not necessarily making fun of Ryan for doing a bad job because it's not easy to do that job. I've done a couple test runs of live commentary during games and I didn't like it. Everything's moving too fast. You have to be interesting in short quips. I don't have that talent. Rex Ryan doesn't either. You’d think he does, but he didn't here.
The difference between me and Rex Ryan trying this out is that I didn't get a couple hundred thousand dollar contract to work on my trial runs at it.
Rex Ryan's commentating style was a mix of every ill-prepared announcer there ever was combined with a ton of clichés…and every third sentence had to mention Anthony Lynn by name like it was a Saturday Night Live spoof. Anthony Lynn is from the illustrious Rex Ryan coaching tree…so everything in this game was seeing through Anthony Lynn's eyes. It was an Anthony Lynn infomercial…only those of us watching it saw a horribly coached game happening while Ryan made him out to be greater than Vince Lombardi and Bill Belichick combined.
I could only help but think as this was unraveling – two NFL teams bought this Rex Ryan bullshit, and paid him millions of dollars to run their teams into the ground. Grown adults with giant bank accounts sat across the table interviewing Rex Ryan for a head coaching job and completely bought his total load of bullshit. He's a Con Man. He didn't even prepare for this announcing job. If he had he wouldn't have sounded this awful. He would've had more information. He wouldn't have kept talking to the producers when they were going to commercial. He would've said something, anything interesting. He wouldn't have sounded so nervous/empty. I'll bet he thought he was such a cult of personality that he could just roll out of bed and do this job. He was sadly mistaken.
ESPN…just when I wonder how you could be any worse at 'sports' you find another way. The great social engineering experiment at ESPN will be dead in 5–10 years. Literally, vanquished…a shell of itself, bought by another company, or bankrupt and gone completely. If they didn’t have Monday Night Football, I don’t think anyone would watch aside from college games…which could be broadcast by anyone else, and a better job done. ESPN has booted most all of its talented voices and brought in a bunch of empty suits. It's going to get way worse from here. Hiring Rex Ryan to do commentary shows you the caliber of their hiring ability.
ESPN is the K-Mart of my youth. Once 'the thing', now a punch line to a joke.
Fantasy Player Notes…
-- Denver is potentially a scary team in any given week because Trevor Siemian (17-28 for 219 yards, 2 TD/1 INT) really isn't that bad. In fact, there are times that he looks like he a 'B' grade NFL quarterback. For context, a better than Matt Ryan QB. Siemian still makes some silly mistakes, especially under pressure, but he's not as bad as people think. He is not consistently good enough to be considered good-great-elite, but he is solid with flashes of good+.
If Joe Flacco can win a Super Bowl behind a stellar defense, so can Trevor Siemian.
I also think Siemian is a sleeper QB2 for the fantasy desperate who've been burned by the Andy Dalton types. Siemian is a solid passer with nice WRs and plausible TEs, and he can run pretty well.
-- You may know that I do not like Melvin Gordon (18-54-0, 5-25-0/7) as an NFL running back, and have spent his entire NFL career expressing how much I do not like Melvin Gordon as an NFL running back. I say that as a lead into the following statement…one that I've made a few times going back to the preseason – this current version is the best Melvin Gordon I've seen in the NFL. He's shown more bounce in his step/burst; I don't know if he lost weight or what. But he's also running with more aggression and less hesitation. He still just an average running back talent, but because the Chargers are going to run the ball a million times a game, I can see Gordon as a top-five fantasy running back this year while I hate every minute of it.
Gordon ripped off today a 21-yard run very early in this game, and I was thinking – he's going to have a big night tonight. He ran for 33 yards on his other 17 carries (1.9 ypc) in this game. There's one problem with being a mediocre running back getting a million carries for LAC – when your team has no blocking, you become Todd Gurley.
Like Gurley, Gordon's going to have to make up for so-so rushing numbers with his receiving numbers.
The Chargers have absolutely nothing behind Gordon to turn to…and Anthony Lynn may be the worst coach in the NFL already, which means Gordon is going to be run into the ground with a heavy workload no matter how ineffective he is or isn't.
-- One thing to note in this game about the Chargers running backs – UDFA rookie RB Austin Ekeler (2-18-0/2) had two targets in this game. He may be being groomed as the relief back/change-of-pace guy for Gordon. He's got more pop than Branden Oliver (4-10-0, 0-0-0/1), so he might have some decent moments in PPR down the road. Oliver's still ahead of him, but let's keep an eye on Ekeler's targets, because someone has to be a relevant #2 RB on the team that wants to run a million times a game.
-- Anthony Lynn is in the wrong era of football, and it's going to take down most everything related to the Chargers passing game.
Philip Rivers is dead – several 200+/- yard passing games coming his way this year. We'll get to see Rivers demanding a trade or fighting with Lynn on the sidelines coming any week now. Mark it down…no way this marriage makes it to Thanksgiving without a public blowup.
Keenan Allen (5-35-1/10) still gets all the throws from Rivers because Rivers never changes/adapts/makes players better…and he is one of the most overrated good quarterbacks in the NFL, and has been for years. Allen has no pop after the catch – he is just a reliable pair of hands.
Tyrell Williams (5-54-0/7) can change games, but he's a secondary look on the team that wants to run the ball a million times a game. We're not gonna get the same season out of Tyrell this year, I fear. I've figured that going back to the summer. Who the coach is for a team matters in fantasy way more than I ever thought it would have when I started this years ago.
You think the Chargers have two viable fantasy options at tight end, but in reality they have not. How do you like that rising star Hunter Henry? Zero targets in this game.
-- I want to say Jamaal Charles (10-40-0, 0-0-0/1) is a sleeper, but when old-school-trained, in-over-their-heads head coaches see a player fumble, their entire body chemistry changes. There's nothing worse to an old-school coach that wants to run a million times than a running back fumbling. QBs can throw terrible picks, defenders can miss tackles, WRs can drop passes…but RBs are going into doghouses after a fumble.
Jamaal Charles fumbled late in this game as Denver tried to run out the clock and I thought Vance Joseph was gonna lose it. Which means Jamaal Charles, who deserves better, will be in the doghouse until further notice.
This goes back to the preseason. Vance Joseph is all about how in love he is with himself being the head coach. Jamaal Charles deserves a lot more respect than Joseph is giving him. But because Joseph is only concerned with himself and his playbook – he's treating, what in reality is his best running back, like he's a rookie. It's going to cost them in the long run. Whether it's this year or next, you're going to see a veteran, talented Broncos team with civil unrest in the locker room someday in the future because the head coach does not give them respect. You'll see it with Anthony Lynn as well. Free agents are going to steer clear of these two destinations. Meanwhile, players will take lesser deals to go play with Sean McVay in Los Angeles. What a difference hiring the right head coach makes. It will take two years before anybody realizes the damage done by the Chargers hiring Rex Ryan's favorite coach, Anthony Lynn, and the Broncos hiring a Vance Joseph. While the Rams hiring Sean McVay completely changes the Rams into a future playoff team in short order.
Hiring Lynn. Paying up/hanging onto Philip Rivers too long. Basing an offense around Melvin Gordon and Keenan Allen…nonexplosive weapons. Cutting Tyrell Williams back in 2015, before luckily bringing him back. The Chargers know no bounds of self-inflicted wounds.
Three IDP efforts to point out...
-- Jatavis Brown (14 tackles) is so good it's frightening. His speed to the ball changes game dynamics in so many subtle ways. He was a top-five dynasty rookie draft prospect for us 2015 and a top 20 NFL Draft prospect in his draft class – coming out of college he went ignored by the NFL and the dynasty community his rookie season.
He's still kind of ignored, but not for long.
-- I've been touting how good Adam Gotsis (5 tackles) has looked going back to his rookie preseason 2016. He's a high draft pick player that more than a few people liked, and he went to Notre Dame so football people loved him – so he's no great sleeper we discovered. In fact, I was not as high as the football people were on him looking at his analytics pre-draft. To be fair, he was also hurt his final season of college. In the end, I was behind the curve a bit here.
Gotsis didn't do too much last regular season, but I saw him being a force this preseason. I wondered what the Broncos would do with him to start 2017 – and now we see that he's a starter and led all their defensive linemen with five tackles. He's going to be a sneaky IDP DL for 2017.
-- I have been a huge fan of Bradley Roby (5 tackles, 2 PD, 1 INT) since day one. It's good to see him finally getting the playing time and status he deserves. Five tackles in this one, plus a big interception. He is an incredibly talented defensive back. Denver just keeps adding more and more talent on defense – and if it doesn't result in the Broncos having an elite defense again this year, you can blame that on Vance Joseph…because they are loaded with talent.
Snap Counts of Interest...
45 = Virgil Green
29 = A.J. Derby
17 = Jeff Heuerman
43 = Derek Wolfe
33 = Shelby Harris
31 = Adam Gotsis
55 = Tyrell
53 = Keenan
39 = Travis Benjamin