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Rams-Broncos preview: 3 things to know about the Orange Crush

Get to know the Ram’s opponent before Saturday night

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DENVER BRONCOS, NFL Photo by AAron Ontiveroz/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images

Two weeks, two losses for the Los Angeles Rams in preseason play. LA hopes to break the streak Saturday night when they travel to Empower Field at Mile High in Denver to take on the Broncos at 6:05 PDT.

The Rams are expected to sit their starters for the game, like they have the first couple weeks, and throughout McVay’s coaching tenure. This game will serve as a last gasp for backups looking to secure a roster spot. Let’s go ahead and get into top headlines out of the Mile High city before the real games begin on September 12.

Broncos name their starting QB...who’s excited?!

Potentially earth-shattering news came out of Dove Valley Wednesday as the Broncos announced that Hall of Fame quarterback Peyton Manning will unretire, adding stability to a position that hasn’t been settled since he first called it quits in 2015. Just kidding, I had to find a creative way around announcing that Teddy Bridgewater was named the team’s starter for the 2021 season, beating out third-year signal caller Drew Lock in the process. Sorry guys, Peyton’s not returning, but if he played light years better than his final season, who in their right mind would ever say no? Perhaps I should’ve started out this section with this fantastically awesome video instead:

I would like to start off by saying I have a huge amount of respect for Teddy. I admire him for coming off that catastrophic knee injury which nearly cost him his leg and his life. I admired him for carving out starting roles of some variety in stints with the Saints and Panthers after the Vikings cast him aside. I’m not saying Bridgewater doesn’t deserve the starting position, he absolutely does especially after killing it this preseason.

The fact is that this news was evident the moment his trade became official in April. Last season, Lock couldn’t cut it as a starter as he tied Carson Wentz for the most interceptions in the NFL with 15 and was last among the league’s starters in completion percentage at 57.3. Given the impatience of teams regarding quarterback play, this move was inevitable, or as “surprising” as rookie Trevor Lawrence finally being named a starter. Again, no disrespect to Teddy, but this is too safe of a move by the Broncos.

What exactly does Teddy bring to the Broncos? He brings a steady veteran presence, something the team has clearly lacked since Peyton rode into the sunset. When Drew Brees went down with an injury in 2019, Bridgewater stepped up and led the Saints to a 5-0 record in his absence. In 2020 with the Panthers, Carolina went a dismal 4-11 in his starts, but he had the league’s fifth-highest completion percentage. Positive vibes only everybody.

Quarterback has been the reason Denver has cycled through 10 quarterbacks and missed the playoffs every year that Manning’s been away. Bridgewater will be number 11 in the post-Peyton era and he’s quite fortunate to be on more of a talent-rich team than he was with the Panthers. No matter what, this will be the position that will make-or-break the Broncos 2021 campaign. This isn’t 2015 anymore, they shouldn’t expect their defense to bear all the weight once more.

Denver Broncos v Seattle Seahawks Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images

How hot is Vic Fangio’s seat going into 2021?

Head Coach Vic Fangio is one of the most widely-respected defensive wizards in the sport. He was the mastermind behind the 49ers resurgence from 2011-13 and the Rams demoralizing defeat to the Bears in 2018. Oopsies, did I forget to shield your eyes from that last sentence due to sensitive material?

Call me crazy, but it’s probably a bad sign that your fanbase is creating a wish list of coaches to replace you and you’re the odds-on favorite to be the first NFL coach fired this season. Wasn’t becoming a head coach worth the wait, Vic?

His two years as the “Godfather” have been about as traumatic for a first-timer as it could be. Fangio’s teams have gone winless in September, unable to recover from those slow starts in slumping to 7-9 and 5-11 records.

It didn’t help that he lost his best defensive players for the season in each of his two years on the job either, losing linebacker Bradley Chubb in 2019 and all-world linebacker Von Miller in 2020. Also, Fangio famously coached a matchup against the Saints last season in which the team had no quarterbacks available.

Needless to say, Fangio has had poor luck while leading the Broncos, whether it be inconsistent quarterback play or injuries, he’s dealt with quite the adversity. Fair or not, he has no margin for error with the team. The organization has a new general manager in George Paton who has zero ties to him. Fangio’s time to cool his seat is NOW.

Who are youngers with Rocky Mountain High expectations?

I want you to ponder this tweet, let it simmer in your mind for a moment:

We get it, Alabama is a football powerhouse, who cares? How about Broncos’ fans, whose team has drafted two major stars from the Crimson Tide the last couple offseasons? The first such player is wide receiver Jerry Jeudy, who was listed at number three on NFL Network’s Peter Schrager’s top 10 breakout players of 2021.

Drafted 15th-overall in the 2020 draft, Jeudy racked up 856 yards and three touchdowns on 52 receptions as a rookie. Rookie jitters left him with a case of the butterfingers in being credited with 12 drops, including five in a horrendous performance against the Chargers. This offseason, Jeudy has been unstoppable in training camp. If he drop his mistakes at the door, he’ll be a force to be reckoned with.

The second alum from college football’s axis of evil is first-round cornerback Patrick Surtain II who is making Broncos fans forget all about passing on Justin Fields. (At least that’s the story I’m sticking to). Surtain was graded the second-highest defender in preseason play by recording a tackle, two passes defended and a 30-yard pick-six against the Vikings through the first two weeks.

The highest-graded rookie defender also plays for the Broncos and that’s outside linebacker Jonathon Cooper. Cooper was chosen in the seventh-round out of Ohio State and he just might be one of the biggest steals of the draft. He had a monster game against the Seahawks on Saturday racking up three total tackles, a tackle for loss, two QB hits, two sacks, a pass defensed and a forced fumble. Cooper also tallied an additional three tackles and a tackle for loss against the Vikings week one. If Cooper and Surtain can keep up these performances, Denver might be flying high into the postseason, assuming everything goes according to plan this year.