The Broncos have too many dogs and not enough dawgs

Sep 25, 2023, 4:00 AM | Updated: 5:53 pm

Patrick Surtain...

(Photo by Megan Briggs/Getty Images)

(Photo by Megan Briggs/Getty Images)

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The pitchforks will be out this week for Vance Joseph. And rightfully so. The Broncos defensive coordinator just oversaw one of the worst performances in NFL history.

VJ’s group gave up 70 points on Sunday in Miami. The Dolphins racked up 726 total yards en route to that gaudy number. Both are the second highest totals ever.

Denver was only spared going down in infamy by sympathy. Miami could’ve kicked a field goal in the final minute of the game to set the NFL record to points scored in a game. Mike McDaniel mercifully took a knee and turned the ball over on downs.

That kind of performance will land a DC in hot water. It might very well get VJ fired.

“Tomorrow will be tough for a lot of players and tough for us as coaches,” head coach Sean Payton said after the 70-20 loss. “We have to look closely at what we were doing. We’ve got to get to the tape. It’s unacceptable.”

The coaches part of that quote will get attention. The players portion should get more.

Joseph was a terrible hire. He’s been a mediocre, at best, defensive coordinator during his coaching career. Throw in his disastrous two-year stint as the Broncos head coach in 2017 and ’18, and it seemed like a bad idea from the get go.

But he’s not totally to blame for the debacle on Sunday in Miami. The Dolphins having their way with Denver’s defense isn’t solely on the D-coordinator.

The players he has at his disposal are also a part of the problem. In fact, they might be the biggest issue.

The Broncos don’t have enough dawgs on defense. Instead, they have a bunch of dogs.

At the top of the list is Randy Gregory. The edge rusher signed a five-year, $70-million deal with Denver prior to last season. On Sunday, he didn’t appear on the stat sheet, despite being on the field for most of the game.

Gregory didn’t have a single tackle or sack. He didn’t get an assist or a pass defended. He didn’t force or recover a fumble. Nothing. Nada. Zip. Zilch.

His poor play embodies what’s wrong with the Broncos defense. Their highest-paid players simply don’t do enough. At times, they don’t do anything.

Justin Simmons counts more than $18 million against the cap this season than any Denver defender. He missed Sunday’s game in Miami with a hip injury. During the first two games of the year, however, the safety didn’t make any momentum-changing plays.

Gregory is next at $16.1 million. He disappeared against the Dolphins.

D.J. Jones is third at nearly $13 million. He had two tackles on Sunday, barely making his presence felt on the field.

Josey Jewell is fourth at more than $7 milion. He left the game with an injury after recording two tackles and two assists.

Zach Allen holds the No. 5 position at $6 million. He had three solo tackles, four assists and two tackles for a loss.

Patrick Surtain is arguably the Broncos best defensive player. He counts just over $5.7 million against the cap. He couldn’t stay with Tyreek Hill in Miami, got burned by Robbie Choice for a long touchdown and was generally ineffective.

It’s a total lack of playmakers on defense, especially amongst the team’s biggest “stars.” This is on George Paton, the general manager who drafted most of the group or signed them to a free-agent deal.

Sean Payton, the team’s new head coach that is on the hot seat after just three games, should send his GM packing. Then, he should do the same to most of Paton’s additions.

Trade Simmons and Gregory. On the other side of the ball, see what a team with o-line injuries will part with in order to acquire Garett Bolles. See if Courtland Sutton can fetch anything.

Then, it’s worth seeing what kind of value Surtain has around the league. If someone is willing to give up multiple first-round picks for the elite cornerback, pull the trigger. On a defense this bad, his talents are wasted. The Broncos can give up 70 points with or without him.

Don’t stop there. Does Jerry Jeudy have any value? Can Denver get rid of Courtland Sutton’s contract?

Send them all packing. Blow it up.

The Broncos continue to trend in the wrong direction. They change head coaches. They swap out coordinators. The results remain the same.

Why? Because their roster stinks. It has talented players, but too few that know how to play winning football.

Turn those assets into future draft picks. Start to rebuild this thing from the ground up.

The Broncos are an embarrassment. Everyone who has been a part of getting them into this situation should be shown the door.

Denver needs more dawgs. They can only acquire them by trading away some of the dogs.


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The Broncos have too many dogs and not enough dawgs