3 Less-Than-Satisfying Takeaways from Broncos' 17-10 Win Over Washington

Entering Sunday, the Denver Broncos were coming off a mini-bye after losing to Cleveland 10 days ago. Meanwhile, Broncos Country has been calling for the job of head coach Vic Fangio amid the same losing and out-of-touch product that has been endured on the field for three years now under his stewardship. 

Just two weeks ago when former two-time Super Bowl-winning head coach Mike Shanahan and Hall-of-Famer Steve Atwater were honored at halftime, the Broncos were whipped by the Jon Gruden-less Las Vegas Raiders. Fast-forward to Sunday's game and fans got to see Peyton Manning officially get inducted into the Broncos Ring of Fame on Halloween night.

Would the Broncos fail to rise up yet again on such a momentous occasion? On an evening in which tons of candy will be consumed all over the country, the city of Denver can rejoice in the even sweeter taste of victory as the Broncos defeated the Washington Football Team 17-10.

What are the key takeaways? Let's get to it. 

Fangio Escapes October with One Win

The last time that the Broncos tasted a victory was more than a month ago on (September 26) against the New York Jets. Just when  Fangio escaped the ignominy of his winless September record as head coach, he had the dark cloudy prospect of losing each game in October hovering over his head. It started with a loss to the Baltimore Ravens and was followed by consecutive losses to the Pittsburgh Steelers, Raiders, and Browns.

You can’t make this stuff up, folks, especially after Denver started the season 3-0. That feels like a lifetime ago as various starters have been sidelined with injuries and fans are calling for the jobs of coaches. 

The 63-year-old Fangio entered Sunday's matchup with a 15-24 career record and a winning percentage of .385. The Broncos' Week 8 victory snapped a nasty and long four-game losing streak. 

It’s hard to get too upset or too excited about this game. The inevitable sale of the team still looms large, along with a likely change to the coaching staff and quarterback position at season's end. This win over Washington only made it more unlikely that there will be any significant changes in the near future.

Sunday's win was nice to see for Manning’s official induction into the RoF and for the Halloween occasion, but make no mistake: the Broncos have a surplus of tricks they must conjure, rather than treats, with a juggernaut of a schedule still ahead of them. 

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Denver Must Invest in Either Sutton or Patrick

GM George Paton is in his first year on the job but a pivotal fork in the road is rapidly approaching as he's faced with the prospect of reaching a contract extension with one of the Broncos' two star wideouts. Courtland Sutton and Tim Patrick are similar in age, size, and receiving ability as premier possession receivers but the former was drafted in the second round back in 2018 while the latter carved out a career for himself as an undrafted free agent.

Sutton will surely command a larger and much more lucrative contract than Patrick due to his draft pedigree alone. Headed into Sunday's game against Washington, Sutton had totaled 38 receptions for 539 yards and two touchdowns. 

Sutton has appeared in 41 career games for the Broncos, assuming the role of the team's former big-bodied wideout Demaryius Thomas — in addition to being a team captain. Alas, against Washington, Sutton caught just two receptions for 40 yards.

On the other hand, Patrick has been Mr. Reliable during his tenure with the Broncos. Entering Week 7, the 27-year-old had totaled 27 receptions for 360 yards and three touchdowns. He’s a beloved member of the locker room and has earned the reputation for doing whatever is asked of him, including dominant perimeter blocking. Patrick’s Week 8 performance consisted of three receptions for 64 yards.

Denver has its technical route-running artist in Jerry Jeudy, and its speed demon slot receiver in KJ Hamler. but if the team is going to nurture the development of these two second-year players, it must quickly decide whether to invest in Sutton or Patrick as the undisputed X-receiver of the future.

Could Miller be on the Trading Block?

I know no one in Broncos Country wants to imagine a world without Von Miller repping the Orange and Blue but it’s important to acknowledge the realistic possibility that Paton could be contacted by other teams inquiring about Miller’s services. 

Teams that could use a pass rusher include the Green Bay Packers, Arizona Cardinals, and Seattle Seahawks. The 32-year-old pass rusher was held out of the game on Sunday due to an ankle injury sustained against the Browns a week and a half ago. 

While it’s hard to speculate about the true nature of his injury, Miller himself said he felt that he could’ve returned to the game in Cleveland but opted to trust the Broncos' medical staff. Enter a potential conspiracy theory.

I sincerely doubt that Fangio pulled the plug on Miller’s availability in Cleveland or for this Halloween game. After all, the embattled head coach is more than content throwing out a concussed and battered Teddy Bridgewater as the starting QB. 

Perhaps Paton made the call to shelf Miller with the realization that this season is likely going nowhere very fast. Such a philosophy isn't 'taking' — it's smart business. Remember, as Miller nears the end in his time with Denver, he’ll earn $17.5 million in the last year of his contract. 

Last week, Miller also had an interesting moment of reflection in his career which seemed odd due to the timing of the NFL trade deadline looming on November 2. In seven games this season, the former Super Bowl 50 MVP has logged 4.5 sacks, nine QB hits, 19 tackles (10 solo), and seven tackles for a loss. 

Maybe it’s much ado about nothing, or maybe Von’s ankle, which received a positive prognosis during X-ray examination, is healthier than fans are being led to believe.

Follow Luke on Twitter @LukePattersonLP.

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