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The Denver Broncos sit at 3-6, which happens to be exactly where they sat record-wise through nine games in 2017. In our weekly survey, just 6% of fans still felt confidence in this team and I have a strong feeling most of those are fans from rival blogs.
This team has fought through some close losses and it just feels like they are closer to the win columns this year than they did last year. However, they are still 3-6, which means there is a mixed bag of standouts and duds through nine games.
Here’s how we graded the team through the first part of the season. I picked the top vote-getters and included anyone else mentioned at the end.
Vance Joseph: Few people within the Broncos organization have been move disappointing than Joseph. His coaching decisions in game have left many of us wondering what he is trying to do and his 8-17 record is the worst winning percentage of any Broncos head coaching since the 1960s.
Bill Musgrave: Few things have frustrated fans more than the offensive playcalling through nine games. With one of the leagues best rushing attacks, Musgrave consistently abandons the run in favor of a Case Keenum-led aerial assault. An assault that typically leads to few touchdowns. Not only that, but the passing plays Musgrave wants to run are the kind that Keenum has struggled to be successful under.
Chad Kelly: The reasons for this are plainly obvious.
Case Keenum: It has been your average Case Keenum season. He is slightly better than his pre-2017 average and well below his 2017 breakout season. With 2400 yards, 11 touchdowns and 10 interceptions, he has been able to do just enough to lose some close games. The Broncos do need a long-term quarterback, but with proper coaching and playcalling they could find success with Keenum. It just hasn’t happened.
Bradley Roby: Missing the game against the Houston Texans was probably a blessing for Roby. He’s had a couple of great games, but he has been far more of a liability than a starting-caliber cornerback this season. Those couple of quality performances are the only reason he is here and not lower.
Garett Bolles: Bolles should be playing right tackle. His technique and athleticism is not good enough to hold down the left side without committing those frustrating holding penalties - which he currently leads the NFL in. If the Broncos continue to hold him on the left side, then the first round bust label talk is going to get louder.
Joe Woods: The lone bright spot has been the defense. Even though the unit is no longer elite on the talent side of things, they are coming up big where it matters the most in keeping games close. It just seems like if they hold the highest scoring team in the NFL to 27-points, their offense scores 23 or if they hold a team to 19-points, their offense scores 17. It’s just not working out for wins. However, giving up 593 yards rushing in two games is why Woods gets a mixed-bag kind of grade here.
Justin Simmons: As the Broncos secondary tries to work on communication, the most obvious struggles have come from Simmons. The young safety has been caught out of position on more than a few easy touchdowns. Hopefully that is just a young player struggling to catch on to a new things, but the Broncos need him to limit those moving forward.
Chris Harris Jr: The Broncos have one elite cornerback in Chris Harris Jr. and teams are scheming the ball away from him as much as possible. It’s gotten so frustrating for Harris that he lamented that this season is feeling a lot like last season to him. He is a big reason why this defense is still good, but Harris can’t be everywhere and defenses are finding those holes.
Emmanuel Sanders: Sanders is having himself a good season as his chemistry with Keenum has grown. Through nine games, Sanders has 56 receptions for 707 yards and three touchdowns. John Elway even went so far as to say Sanders’ play is what made the decision to trade Demaryius Thomas to the Texans much easier.
Royce Freeman: Despite only getting the ball over 10 times in a game on three occasions this season, Freeman has shown he has great vision and a shifty running style that can be very successful in this league. He has 309 yards rushing on just 71 carries this season before missing the last two games with an ankle injury.
Von Miller: All Von needed was a partner in crime and he found that in rookie Bradley Chubb. Miller is averaging a sack a game and is coming up big in key moments. It’s good to see Von Miller be able to do Von Miller things with fewer double and triple teams in games.
Bradley Chubb: Just one sack separates rookie Chubb from former Super Bowl MVP Miller through nine games. After a slow start, Chubb has been on a terror in October winning NFL Defensive Rookie of the Month. He also has an inside track to win Defensive Rookie of the Year, especially if the sacks keep piling up for the young player.
Phillip Lindsay: For the first time in his NFL career, Lindsay finished a game under 4.5 yards per carry against the Texans. He now has 110 carries for 591 yards for a whooping 5.4 yards per carry as an undrafted rookie. He started his career setting records and he gets a resounding A+ grade from everyone here at Mile High Report. We look forward to seeing this kid play every week!