Before kickoff Thursday, Denver Broncos receiver Jerry Jeudy was focused on picking an argument with NFL Network’s Steve Smith, then dancing behind him on the sideline.
Maybe that wasn’t the biggest deal, but it was telling. It summed up the 2023 Broncos.
The Broncos are unlikeable. They’re unwatchable. They seem to have little interest in being a respectable team — before the game or during it.
After Jeudy was preoccupied with Smith before the game against the Kansas City Chiefs, the Broncos did what they usually do and lost the game. The Chiefs didn’t play well and still won 19-8, knocking the Broncos down to 1-5 this season. Jeudy had 1 yard on two catches at halftime. The Chiefs beat the Broncos for the 16th straight time. Somewhere, Jeudy is probably scrolling social media looking to start another flame war with a Broncos legend, which is what he has done best this season.
Fans in Denver are getting fed up with the Broncos. It’s easy to see why.
Broncos take another loss vs. Chiefs
The Broncos seem to have a pattern. Sean Payton trashed last season’s coaching staff, then lost to last season’s head coach, Nathaniel Hackett, who is now the New York Jets’ offensive coordinator. Jeudy wanted to yell at Smith, then proved everything Smith said about him to be correct.
The Broncos are really good at talking the talk. Not so good at walking the walk.
Thursday wasn’t Denver’s worst performance of the season. The team made some plays on defense in the red zone. The Broncos competed for a bit. And they were still down 13-0 at halftime.
Most weeks the defense has been the biggest problem, but on Thursday, it was the offense that spectacularly failed. Russell Wilson had just 37 yards passing at halftime. Denver had 94 yards at halftime, and Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce had 109 himself.
Wilson in particular had a miserable night. He threw an interception right to linebacker Nick Bolton in the first half. He threw another in the second half that was tipped at the line. On a night when the Broncos’ defense actually helped keep the team in the game against Patrick Mahomes, Wilson made little happen. He finished with 95 yards. Wilson hasn’t been that bad this season, but his night Thursday will fuel everyone who insists he’s the problem.
The Broncos showed some life late in the game. Courtland Sutton scored with 6:07 left, and Javonte Williams ran for the two-point conversion. Denver trailed 16-8 after that. Mahomes then got serious, putting together a drive that put the game away. Harrison Butker hit his fourth field goal of the game inside the two-minute warning to push Kansas City’s lead to 11 points. Then Broncos running back Samaje Perine fumbled, and the game was over.
The Broncos could’ve pulled the upset had they gotten a little better night out of the offense. That wasn’t meant to be, which isn’t surprising for this season’s Broncos.
Broncos’ issues run deep
The Broncos are in bad shape. The Wilson trade was one of the worst in NFL history. And somehow, the trade for Payton might be just as bad. Payton isn’t helping anything. There were some weird calls. At this time last season, Hackett, whose staff was proclaimed one of the worst in NFL history by Payton, had more wins than the Broncos do now.
The biggest problem the Broncos face is that it seems like a multiyear rebuild is ahead. Whatever the Broncos want to do with Wilson, his contract and the massive salary-cap hits that would go with dumping him aren’t going away. The young, cheap depth that is a foundation for any good roster is nonexistent for Denver because of all the draft picks the Broncos gave up to get Wilson and Payton. It’s not like there’s a winning culture. Denver hasn’t been to the playoffs since the 2015 season, and this season, they’ve sunk to the depths of the NFL. It’ll take a long time for them to get out of this.
Payton seems likely to find scapegoats. Some of them, including Jeudy, could be traded before the deadline. Defensive coordinator Vance Joseph’s unit was better Thursday but overall has been horrid, and he shouldn’t feel safe. Who knows what the Broncos will do with Wilson if he struggles the rest of the season.
There’s nothing positive to be said about the current state of the Broncos. The best news in Denver is that the Nuggets’ season starts soon, so fans can tune out the 2023 Broncos for good.