Behind Enemy Lines: Broncos face Cardinals in midst of losing streak

Oct 18, 2018, 3:12 PM

(AP Photo/Jack Dempsey)...

(AP Photo/Jack Dempsey)

(AP Photo/Jack Dempsey)

After being gashed on the ground for more than 200 yards in back-to-back weeks (593), the Denver Broncos next test is David Johnson and the Arizona Cardinals on Thursday Night Football.

In the middle of a four-game losing streak, the Broncos have looked lost since opening up the season with two straight wins.

The run defense is at the center of the Broncos’ woes.

All told, opponents have run for 161.3 yards per game at 5.6 yards a carry. Their 968 yards allowed on the ground is dead last in the league, while Denver is tied with Atlanta in terms of rushing touchdowns allowed (8) at No. 29.

In addition to the run defense, the Broncos are thin at offensive line.

Lineman Ron Leary went down with what could be a season-ending Achilles injury, while tackle and former Arizona Cardinal Jared Veldheer has missed two consecutive games with a knee injury.

Catch the inside scoop on the Denver Broncos with Behind Enemy Lines.

Thursday, October 18

• Larry Fitzgerald, Demaryius Thomas and the art of aging at wide receiver (ESPN)

Two of the most prominent in the wave of big receivers in their 30s — the Broncos’ Demaryius Thomas and the Arizona Cardinals’ Larry Fitzgerald — will face off Thursday night. They continue to adapt — adjusting to changing times and offenses — and their aging bodies.

Scouting the enemy: Arizona Cardinals (Mile High Report)

It wasn’t too long ago that the Denver Broncos and the Arizona Cardinals were battling it out in the final game of this year’s preseason, with the Broncos securing a 21-10 victory in late August. Fan bases of both franchises appeared to be relatively optimistic about their teams entering the regular season, but a lot has changed in two months.

Pressure Points: Focus on several Broncos to pick up their play, starting Thursday (Denver Post)

Last week, Broncos president/CEO Joe Ellis was asked about the organization’s confidence level in coach Vance Joseph and his staff to right the season.

“They know the deal,” Ellis said.

Broncos character will show in a short week (Mile High Report)

Teams that enter a Thursday game don’t get the luxury of full practices, walk throughs, and film work. Talent should really bear out. If the Denver Broncos still care about this season, they should march into Arizona and do to the Cardinals exactly what Von Miller said they were going to do.

Wednesday, October 17

• NFL notebook: Broncos CEO hints Joseph’s job in danger (Yahoo! Sports)

Denver Broncos president and CEO Joe Ellis indicated Wednesday that head coach Vance Joseph’s job could be in danger if he doesn’t right the ship soon.

In acknowledging concern over nearly 10,000 no-shows in Denver’s home loss to the unbeaten Los Angeles Rams last weekend, Ellis did not shy away from alluding to possible changes if the Broncos continue to struggle on the field and at the gates.

• Broncos Game Plan: How Denver matches against the Cardinals, injury report and predictions (Denver Post)

Third time’s a charm, right? After two weeks of disastrous run defense against the Jets (323 yards allowed) and Rams (270), the Broncos take on the league’s lowest-producing rush game (62 yards/game) in Arizona.

• Facing a ‘city on fire’ and a losing streak, Von Miller guarantees a win over Arizona (ESPN NFL Nation)

Von Miller put away his trademark smile and stepped out front Tuesday to try to snap a reeling team out of its doldrums.

With a four-game losing streak in hand and the Broncos having been the first defense in league history to allow a 200-yard rusher in consecutive games in a season, Miller went all-in on Thursday night’s game in Arizona.

• Expect More Up-Tempo From Cardinals Against Broncos (CBS Denver)

The Arizona Cardinals can’t run the football. The Denver Broncos can’t stop the run.

So maybe the ground game will be the deciding factor when these two struggling teams meet on Thursday night.

Arizona (1-5) ranks dead last in the NFL in total offense and in rushing, averaging 64 yards per game on the ground. Denver (2-4) is last in rushing defense, allowing a whopping 161.3 yards per game.

Tuesday, October 16

• Bradley Chubb Nominated For Rookie Of The Week After 3-Sack Game (CBS Denver)

Broncos linebacker Bradley Chubb is one of five players in the running for NFL Rookie of the Week honors.

Chubb had a stellar performance in the loss to the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday at Broncos Stadium at Mile High, racking up three sacks in the game.

• Broncos tracker: Von Miller confident in defensive bounce-back at Arizona (Denver Post)

Broncos linebacker Von Miller is letting his words set the tone Thursday night against the Cardinals.

How will Denver’s defense respond after allowing 270-plus yards rushing in consecutive weeks? Cue the bleep button.

• Broncos Briefs: Von Miller on Arizona — “We’re going to kick their (butt)”  (Denver Post)

Broncos linebacker Von Miller was outspoken on Tuesday, repeatedly calling out the Arizona Cardinals prior to Thursday’s matchup.

“I wouldn’t say it’s a must-win, we’re going to kick their [expletive], though,” the Broncos star told the Denver media on Tuesday. “Make sure you put that up there. We’re going to kick their [expletive]. They’re going to get our best this week.”

• Elway wants Broncos to have mindset “where we’re fighting for our lives” (Denver Post)

With the Broncos at 2-4, they are quickly looking at a reality of irrelevance for the second half of the season if they don’t turn it around soon.

Broncos general manager John Elway spoke on the team’s four-game losing streak.

Elway said the team’s mentality is one “where we’re fighting for our lives.”

• Broncos vs. Cardinals odds: Denver favored on the road over Arizona (Mile High Report)

In a line that doesn’t speak kindly of what Las Vegas thinks of the Arizona Cardinals, the Broncos are a -2.5 favorite on the road.

That is despite Denver being on a four-game losing streak and with their defense in rough shape.

Monday, October 15

• Broncos’ run defense in free fall to ‘unacceptable’ level (ESPN NFL Nation)

A week after the New York Jets trampled the Broncos for 323 yards rushing, the Los Angeles Rams followed suit with 270 yards in their 23-20 victory Sunday. Isaiah Crowell’s 219 yards rushing a week ago and Todd Gurley’s 208 Sunday marked the first time in league history a defense has surrendered at least 200 yards rushing to individual players in consecutive weeks in the same season.

• Denver Broncos show heart as 2018 starts to slip away (Mile High Report)

While there is a long laundry list of what’s wrong with this team, it has to be said that there was fight in this dog even though they were never truly in the game. Bradley Chubb and Von Miller flashed their greatness getting collectively 4.5 sacks. Darian Stewart came away with a .5 sack and an interception that bounced off the facemask of the intended Rams receiver. There were positives to this game. Just not enough to stop the Rams.

• Emmanuel Sanders says NFL ‘has gotten soft’ after taunt draws flag (9 News)

Denver Broncos wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders accepted responsibility for costing his team a potential touchdown with a taunting penalty Sunday while also taking a shot at the NFL for weakening the game.

“It feels like the league has gotten soft,” Sanders said, according to ESPN. “I am having fun. I didn’t do anything crazy to the guy besides say, ‘I got you on that play.’”

The flag was thrown after Sanders’ 43-yard first quarter catch gave the Broncos a first-and-goal at the Rams’ 1-yard line. Initially, the play was ruled a touchdown, but replay changed the spot of the ball.

• Broncos have to have short memory after latest loss (CBS Denver)

The Denver Broncos don’t have much time to wallow in their misery this week.

“The great thing about it is we have a game on Thursday, so we can’t get caught up in this game,” Von Miller said after the Broncos lost their fourth straight , 23-20 to the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday when Todd Gurley ran over them for a career-high 208 yards and two TDs on 28 carries.

Broncos guard Ronald Leary (Achilles) out for season (ESPN NFL Nation)

Denver Broncos left guard Ronald Leary has a torn right Achilles tendon and will miss the remainder of the season, the team announced Monday.

Leary suffered the injury Sunday against the Rams and was replaced by Max Garcia, who will start at left guard Thursday against the Cardinals.

Broncos tracker: John Elway disappointed in Denver’s four-game slide (Denver Post)

During his regular appearance on 760-AM radio today, Broncos general manager John Elway commented on a variety of topics related to the team’s 2-4 start.

“Obviously disappointing. At some point in time, we have to play better football. The desire is there. We hung in there and battled. But it was still not good enough football and we’re still making the mistakes we shouldn’t be making. We’re not quite there yet. We’ll continue to work at it.”

Broncos Analysis: Misery continues as defense allows career day by Todd Gurley (Denver Post)

Remember the obituary written about the Broncos’ run defense last week after the New York Jets ran by them, over them and around them for 323 yards?

A new and record-setting chapter was added during the Broncos’ 23-20 loss to the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday.

Just two weeks ago, the Broncos’ rush defense was actually a strength, ranked fourth-best in the league. They have been exposed by the Jets and Rams.

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Behind Enemy Lines: Broncos face Cardinals in midst of losing streak