As we all know, fan is short for fanatic, so irrational reactions are what characterizes sports aficionados across the globe. It is what makes fans awesome sometimes, and other times, not-so-much. Anger, ridiculous displays of elation, booing Santa, filing lawsuits because of a no call. The list of head-scratching behaviors, all linked to their team’s (mis)fortunes is long.
In the case of the 2020 Denver Broncos, it was a whole lot of anger and indignation after their team had to play the New Orleans Saints on Sunday afternoon without any of its four quarterback options, due to COVID-19 infection and the NFL’s contact-tracing rules. The game ended, predictably, with New Orleans blowing out Denver 31-3 in the Mile-High City.
For those who of you who slept under a rock in the woods this past weekend, the Broncos’ quarterbacks reportedly met for a film session last week, and had a mask-less meal together in the same room, breaking NFL COVID guidelines in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. These were Jeff Driskel, Drew Lock, Brett Rypien and Blake Bortles. Driskel tested positive for COVID-19. The other three, including presumptive starter Drew Lock were thus declared ineligible for the game.
Let’s talk about “the game.” Without a viable option at QB, Denver turned to practice squad wide receiver Kendall Hinton, who had played quarterback in all but his final college year at Wake Forest, when he switched to wide receiver. In familiar vernacular, Denver was screwed before kickoff.
The Saints proceeded to shut down the Broncos’ offense, stacking the box and easily dealing with Denver’s attempts at “Wildcat” plays, when running backs took direct snaps and tried to run the ball with an additional blocker. Hinton completed one pass on the day and was intercepted twice. It was a bad look. Personally, although I was happy to see the Saints win as the team I write about and root for, I felt bad for Hinton, and I felt bad for the Broncos. I understand the anger of most Denver-based fans and media, especially the one directed at the NFL, as they feel as though they weren’t given a fair chance to compete in this game. After all, if anyone knows about anger directed at the NFL in recent history for being treated unjustly, it is Saints fans.
Here is where my compassion stopped however: as is customary for me, after a Saints’ game, win or lose, I peruse the opponent’s SB Nation blog to gauge their fans postgame reaction. To my surprise, several Broncos fans on our sister blog Mile High Report were angry at the Saints’ defense, because, according to them, it was classless for New Orleans defenders to celebrate the plays they made against an undermanned Broncos offense. Some even said that they now wished that the Saints would lose in excruciating fashion in the playoffs. Hmmm, you’re a little late to the party here buddies, where were you in 2017 and 2018?
But seriously...what is this golf?
The Saints’ defense had to play a team that had no real starting quarterback and therefore was going to use a bunch of misdirection plays, direct snaps to running backs, reverses and all kind of trick plays that drive defensive coordinators and players crazy. New Orleans’ defenders likely had to psych themselves up so as not to become complacent and think that is was going to be an easy day at the office, because in the NFL, underestimating your opponent is how you get beat. So, excuse my language, but you are damn bleeping right, Saints’ defenders celebrated every good play they made, because in the NFL any win, and a road-win at that, is damn hard to earn. Last I looked, the Broncos’ offensive line wasn’t a bunch of third-string players, and neither were their running backs, Melvin Gordon III and Philip Lindsay. And yet the Saints still pushed their offensive line backwards and tackled their running backs in the backfield.
Saints defenders were not mocking the Broncos and to my knowledge, there were no quotes from Saints’ defenders making light of the Broncos’ situation. But if you get a sack against a fourth-string quarterback in a real NFL regular season game are you supposed to just get up, help him up and quietly return to the huddle? Wrong sport!
Let me finish with this: What happened to the Broncos was unfortunate, but it was not the Saints’ fault. Speaking of fault: Sure, the NFL could have handled the situation better (where have I heard that before?). But how about showing some accountability and taking responsibility for your error? This whole situation was started by a quartet of Broncos quarterbacks that foolishly gave the NFL a chance to screw their team over. Note: the NFL doesn’t need much help to do that. Again, just ask Saints fans about this farce called “Bounty Gate” in 2012, from which all players allegedly involved were exonerated, yet an NFL head coach was made into an example in such an undeserved fashion that it cost a Saints’ team that had been rolling, not just one, but a few years of purgatory before it could get back to winning.
On Sunday, the Broncos were made into an example by the NFL, in a fashion that was most certainly too harsh. Yet, Denver isn’t exempt of all blame, and for Broncos’ fans to take their anger out on the Saints’ defense for playing the game the way they have played it all season is flat out ludicrous.
Was the Saints’ defense classless in celebrating positive plays against the Broncos
This poll is closed
Are you kidding me? No! This is professional football!!!
Yes, they should have acted like they’ve been there before
The Double Whopper with cheese is the class among all burgers