DENVER (CBS4) – All is not lost, fans of the Orange and Blue.
The Denver Broncos lost a November game at New England in 2013, just like they did on Sunday. Then, remember, they came back and won the AFC title.
Former tight end Joel Dreessen was on that team last year, and he told CBS4’s Vic Lombardi that there is certainly still plenty to be optimistic about if you are a Broncos fan.
Here are five questions about the team right now that Dreessen says aren’t so easy to answer:
1. Has Coach John Fox lost confidence in Brandon McManus?
During the second quarter of Sunday’s 43-21 loss, kicker Brandon McManus attempted a 41-yard kick and it hit the goalpost and went wide.
Then on the next series. the Broncos opted against another field goal attempt on the Patriots 43-yard line and went for it on fourth down. Peyton Manning was sacked by Akeem Ayers for a 9-yard loss.
Has Coach John Fox lost some confidence in the kicker they picked to replace Matt Prater? If that’s the case, what do you do?
“Everyone in Colorado is wondering, ‘Where is Matt Prater?’ right now, but special teams certainly didn’t help the Broncos efforts,” Dreessen said.
2. Why has Julius Thomas largely disappeared through stretches of the past three Broncos games?
Just look at the stats. After the first five games of the season Julius Thomas had nine touchdowns and was averaging 1.8 touchdowns a game. In the past three games he’s only scored once. And he’s only had two receptions in each of the past two games. What has happened?
“It just seems like the opposing teams are putting better cover guys on him. For whatever reason he’s being taken away, but he still found his way into the end zone. I don’t know if he did something to upset Peyton, but he’s not getting a lot of targets these days,” Dreessen said.
3. Why didn’t Peyton Manning play up to his standards against the Patriots?
On Sunday, Manning completed 34 of 57 passes for 438 yards with two touchdowns. But he also had two interceptions.
Manning was hard on himself after the game, but did he really play that poorly? The second interception could be blamed on Wes Welker, who bobbled the ball. But the first one by Rob Ninkovich could have been avoided.
“He’s not used to getting fooled like that,” Dreessen said. “That was a rare occasion, where Manning was expecting Ninkovich to rush and he dropped back and got under his pass.
“I know (Manning) is frustrated with himself. I know in the fourth quarter he overthrew Emmanuel Sanders one time on a play when they usually connect. The standard he holds himself to is very, very high, so I can understand why he was upset.”
4. Will the Broncos ever have an answer for Rob Gronkowski?
The Patriots tight end was on injured reserve for the Broncos-Pats tilt in the AFC championship game last season, and maybe that game might have played out a little differently had he been able to suit up.
The Broncos threw everything they had against him defensively on Sunday, and he still had nine catches for 105 yards and a touchdown.
“When the guy is healthy, he’s a tough player to defend. He was tearing down one-handed catches and had that touchdown,” Dreessen said. “He’s just a tough cover. A great all-around tight end in this league.”
5. Could the Broncos defeat the Patriots in the playoffs if the game were to take place in New England?
Sunday’s game may have had major playoff implications. There are a lot of games left to be played in the regular season, but if the records stay the way they are the road to the Super Bowl would go through Foxborough.
“It’s always better to face them on your own turf like the Broncos did last year,” Dreessen said. “But it can be done. Take the Ravens, for example, in 2012. They go into New England and win that AFC Championship and go on to win the Super Bowl.
“So it has been done before, but if you have your druthers, you prefer to play that team at home.”
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