On Friday, Joe Williams, Irv Brown and other ESPN 1600 prognosticators picked the Broncos to crush the Cardinals under the theory that the team would be ultra-motivated after Coach Josh McDaniels's firing and other assorted embarrassments. But they couldn't have been more wrong. In surrendering 43-13 to the woeful Arizona Cardinals, the Broncos gave fans just one more thing to wish for this season: that they lose the last three games.
Yes, even the prospect of seeing Tim Tebow play meaningful minutes in a meaningless game -- which didn't happen yesterday despite Kyle Orton's miserable performance and dinged ribs -- pales in comparison to the dream of a 3-13 season. After all, yesterday proved that pride is no longer a factor, and the worse the Broncos' record, the better the squad's chances of landing a top-five draft choice capable of making an immediate, and much needed, impact.
Better yet, whoever comes aboard as McDaniels's replacement will have a damned hard time not spending the first pick on a defender, as should have happened each of the past two years but somehow didn't. Watching the Denver D get sliced up by a rookie quarterback from Fordham was so painful to all involved -- including Champ Bailey, still the squad's best player, who looked suicidal much of yesterday -- made it abundantly clear that picking up other franchise's castoffs is no longer a viable strategy, if it ever was.
Breaking down the game would likely cause a breakdown for every Broncos lover out there. Indeed, during the later portion of the ordeal, radio broadcasters Dave Logan and Brian Griese were frequently struck speechless, not knowing whether to laugh, cry or quit. And that's understandable. Interim coach Eric Studesville may have thought he was getting an opportunity to advance his career by stepping in for McD -- but at this point, the gig is akin to a private being handed command over the last handful of troops in a battle to the death after everyone with a higher rank has been killed.
Next week, the Broncos play the Raiders in Oakland -- and we all know what happened last time they took the field against the silver-and-black crew. That's followed by a home contest against the Houston Texans, whose coach, former Broncos backup Gary Kubiak, could soon be looking for employment and might see the game as an audition. And finally, there'll be the season ender at Invesco versus the San Diego Chargers, a team that delights in rubbing the Broncos' collective nose in whatever stinks most -- which might be almost anyone in a Denver uniform based on yesterday's "performance."
Even if the Broncos play well by their standards, they could end up on the short end of all these games. So why bother putting up a fight? Just phone it in, guys. Couldn't be any worse than your version of trying the last few weeks.
More from our Sports archive: "Josh McDaniels, Broncos and SF 49ers video scandal: They're even incompetent at cheating."
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