The Denver Broncos earned their first win for the new owners, new coach, and new quarterback. It was an outrageous 16-9 victory over the Houston Texans, but you’d rather have an ugly win than a beautiful loss.
There were some good positives from this game, but a lot of negatives. The Broncos defense was solid – defending a Texas attack led by Davis Mills should be the expectation. Unfortunately, the Broncos offense faltered.
So far this season, the Broncos sing the same tune: The defense keeps close hoping that the attack will suffice. Time will tell how much things will change, but fans shouldn’t give up on the Broncos. There are a lot of new pieces with the inexperienced coaching staff.
So, a quick word about the grading system and then the grading.
As always, a few quick notes on how grading works. Each player starts with a score of 50.0, which is average, and with each positive game his score goes up, and with each bad game it goes down.
There have been minor tweaks to the scoring system to balance the grading scale, as well as the minimum number of shots to qualify for a climb from 15 to 20. The biggest change, however, is the addition of scores for the coaching team.
The main elements are the ability to predict their calls, creativity, player usage, time management, and team readiness. Additionally, coaches are rated similarly to players on a game-by-game basis.
a crime: Cortland Sutton | WR | Class: 83.8
There have been multiple instances where Sutton saved a poor throw from Russell Wilson, who wasn’t having a good game. Sutton did a great job as a blocker when the ball wasn’t in his hands.
Sutton’s ability to move with Wilson when he’s scrambling, and finding hatches, saves the attack. Back-to-back MVP go-out who looks like the NFL’s Top 10 receiver.
defense: Randy Gregory | OLB | Class: 80.2
There were issues with Gregory against the race, especially with how aggressive he was to get the quarterback. However, he had a lot more good than bad there, once again showing why he is so highly sought after as a fast lane.
Gregory picked up four presses, one bar bag, and three quarterback hits. This came against the quarterback who averaged 2.34 seconds to throw this season, the second fastest player in the NFL.
Jafonte Williams | RB | Class: 81.7
The coaches apparently spent time with Williams to improve his vision and understanding of his running features. It showed up, and it looked a lot better.
There weren’t as many yards left on the field this week as there were in the opening. The biggest change was Williams getting it back in the blitz pickup compared to the first week.
DJ Jones | DL | Class: 78.8
With two games in, Jones appears to be a better pickup than the Broncos, and not just in defense. It does well against running, and this really opens up for others to be in a position to play.
All Jones needs is for them to do the play. While the running defense is key to Denver’s signing with Jones, he helped dash the pass by claiming attention and pushing the pocket.
Demarie Mathis | CB | Class: 78.3
It was a good match from Matisse. There seemed to be some tension early on, but he settled down and played a good game. Mathis was saved when he brought down Brendan Cooks, damaging his score enough to prevent him from being the best player in the game in defense.
His runs were great, were part of the four-point defense and only allowed 3 out of 6 targets to be caught. Matisse was pushed into the fire and out, barely panicked.
Garrett Pauls | OT | Class: 77.3
Paul did a good job in passing, allowing one press, and played a clean penalty shootout. There were several actors he started losing, but he recovered and won the actor. If the Bolles can be consistent as a running blocker, he’ll be a lot closer to the 2020 model.
Eric Sobert | TE | Class: 74.2
Denver received some good bans from Saubert, and it was great to see. The Broncos’ tight ends have been struggling in this department for most of the game. It also helps that Saubert caught the game-winning touchdown.
Bradley Chubb | OLB | Class: 73.9
Bronco’s dash of passes was the only consistent unit in defence. Chubb added three pressures total, with a two-stroke quarterback.
Chubb and Gregory can be a standout duo, but they need help to get the quarterback to hold the ball a little longer. There were a few hiccups in the race, which affected the chubby score, but this unit is very promising.
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D. Shaun Williams | DL | Class: 39.3
The teams discovered Williams’ weakness in the race and they attack him. He had a chance to do some losing interventions but he missed it, which resulted in a big gain. When that didn’t happen, Williams was often taken on tour. Hopefully he can figure out the problem and take the appropriate step to stop the leak.
Lloyd Cochinberry III | c | Class: 41.6
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The Broncos center played two very tough games. Cushenberry was constantly pushed back in the running game and even thrown. It was hard to get anything in between because of his problems there. He’s had success as a pass keeper, but this is more due to the lack of individual blocks he had to make than his playing.
Caden Stearns | S | Class: 42.0
Sterns had no responsibility to cover, which was required with Justin Simmons going to the injured reserve. However, Sterns needs to do better in his career and, more importantly, intervene.
Albert Okwijpunam | TE | Class: 42.1
There is not much to say here. Okwuegbunam had a bad drop in what would have been a good play by him in third place early on, especially with what he showed after the catch. He still appears to be allergic to the blocking.
Andrew Beck | FB | Class: 42.4
After a good game in 10 shots to start the season, Beck faltered while seeing 21 attack shots in Week 2. This does not reflect his poor play on special teams, which included two penalties.
Beck’s worst play was a bad playback call for a read/option scan on the third and one level, which wasn’t his fault. His weak ban in the running game, though, created problems for the Broncos’ emergence.
Alex Singleton | LB | Class: 49.2
While Singleton is associated with the captain in passing deflections, the fact that he’s a Bear-front midfielder is concerning. His play wasn’t great, but this was known to be a coverage problem.
What Singleton showed against the race was the biggest concern. He’s late for filling on runs, struggling with blocks, and even filling in the wrong lanes. If Josie Jewell can’t go next week, move on to Jonas Griffiths as the best quarterback.
Other noteworthy grades
Graham Glasgow | and | Class: 65.1
Glasgow played a very strong match for the Broncos after a full week of training as a start. There’s no doubt that he’s still limiting Quinn Meinerz, especially in the running game. However, Glasgow has shown that it is able to start when needed, as it currently does.
Cameron Fleming | OT | Class: 63.9
Watching the match live, it looked like Fleming was horrible in there, but here’s a reminder that looks can be deceiving. While Fleming wasn’t great, primarily at pass protection, it wasn’t bad.
Dremont Jones | DL | Class: 62.5
Jones, the passing striker, had a long day, but his running defense was almost on the very opposite end of the spectrum. Concern about Jones was his issues against running, and if he really wanted to be one of the best defensive backs in the NFL, he had to improve there. Everyone knows he can go after the quarterback, but there’s more to his responsibilities than that.
Baron Browning | OLB | Class: 59.7
While Browning didn’t score any pressure, he showed how he can strain a pocket and create a tight space for rival QB to throw from. There were some good running reps too, one in particular on Browning’s shadow-tuned option at the back end.
However, these were just flashes and not steadily there. When it came to running, Browning had more issues than not, especially with getting off some blocks.
Nathaniel Hackett | HC | Class: 48.1
There were a lot of issues, and getting calls to play on time is still a big problem. However, Hackett did not display the same level of incompetence in decision making as he did in the last seven minutes of their first game. This alone is the biggest reason for its high score.
However, there is still an enormous amount of work for Hackett to do, which goes beyond getting plays faster. Sanctions remain a problem, and red-zone issues need fixing. It will help reduce the 25 penalties reported on the Broncos.
Finally, as the offense fades, Hackett has to show more to get them out of the helix and do it faster than he did. The Broncos struggled offensively against the Texans and often shot to their feet. Most of that is at Hackett’s feet.
Evero | DC | Class: 73.9
There are still questionable decisions, especially with employees, from Evo. For example, Singleton’s presence at the Bear-front line will forever be a mystery. As for the actual performance, Evo needs to know how to handle the players. Two games were in, and missed interventions were a consistent problem.
Running defense is a concern as well, with the Broncos ranking 10th in most lunge yards allowed in each game. The teams have identified a weakness here – DeShawn Williams – so Evo needs to either help him improve or offer help. More could also be done to help the rushers get home, as the Broncos approached Davis Mills more often but failed due to a faster passing game.
It was a good game overall, but the defense was supposed to deal with Mills and Texas the way it did.
Dwayne Stokes | STC | Class: 63.7
There have been improvements from the first week, but there is still a lot of work to be done. Stukes must improve his block on the Punt Team as Corliss Waitman comes close to blocking two attempts.
Stukes also need to get better coverage from artillery to drop the ball. Preventing the kick back was a messy affair again and it remains a priority to fix it. Work in progress, but steps are being taken.
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