With the Broncos’ season in disarray with an extraordinary amount of injuries, a new offensive coordinator, an extremely young offense brimming with talent but poor on functionality, and a defense with little to no pass rush threat to speak of, the New York Jets were just what the doctor ordered for the team to get something positive together that they can build off of.
I was definitely excited to cheer them on and happy about the win, but after a couple of days to reflect, I’m honestly not staying excited.
This team still looks far from anything that looks like a winning football team. They have a huge amount of holes on both sides of the ball holding them back from being a team that I think can win on “any given Sunday.”
But there are some definite bright spots to be seen in this game and maybe some reason to think the team will put something together resembling a competent NFL team by the end of the season.
I know on paper this was a really positive day for the Denver Broncos pass rush. Sometimes, it looked better. But most of the effectiveness of the pass rush came from great coverage, not an actual pass rush that disrupted the flow of the offense.
Vic Fangio seems to have dialed in some answers in the secondary for sure. He should get credit for that with A.J. Bouye out and a stable of youth at corner especially. But there is something to be said for a game against one of the league’s worst and most dysfunctional teams where you are dialing up blitzes fairly consistently to generate pressure and the opponent’s QB still has almost 4 seconds to throw the ball on average before being hurried.
Shelby Harris was hands-down the star player for this defense in this game. He’s a disruptive force that is great against the run and pass week in and week out. I’m still just amazed that no one signed him this offseason and that he returned to the Broncos on such a team-friendly deal. If he finishes the season like he’s started in the first 4 games, the Broncos really should get a nice contract offer together for him for 4 years to keep him around.
Bradley Chubb finally had a good game. That’s very encouraging to me as until this week he hasn’t looked like the same player we saw his rookie year in any way, shape, or form. His first 1.5 sacks were all coverage and just him giving effort until the whistle. But his sack late in the game to close out a Jets drive when they were still in it was all him using power, technique, and quickness to get off the field and put his team in position to win. It is the kind of play we’re used to seeing from Von and hopefully it is something he’s able to build off of as the season wears on.
Welcome back, De’Vante Bausby! I was excited by Bausby’s play last year pre-injury and I’m just as stoked to see him hit the field and get back at it in an active role in our defense. He got tested several times by the Jets and showed his superb technique, savvy, and ability to anticipate plays. He’s joining Michael Ojemudia as a breakout player in this secondary. Both are taking turns getting picked on and showing they can win in that scenario most of the time.
While the young corners have plenty of great play to crow about, I was pretty disappointed in both Kareem Jackson and Justin Simmons at safety this game. They both whiffed on tackles or were in plays where they didn’t even try to make the play. They had no impact whatsoever in the passing game and really had me wondering what the heck happened to what looked like the best safety tandem in the NFL in the 2019 season.
Any time you score 37 points in the NFL, you had a good day on offense. I honestly don’t care that the opponent was the Jets. They were playing hard-nosed (and many times illegal) defense and our team kept picking themselves up and getting back on the attack no matter what.
This offense is still a work in progress. They got better play from their QB (mostly). The run game churned out a 100 yard rusher. The pass game provided a 100 yard receiver and a 3 TD QB.
I’m not crowning Brett Rypien anything. Not today. Probably not next week or anytime this season. But I am going to say it’s very likely THE backup quarterback for this team in the future once Lock gets back.
The best thing he has going for him is quick decision making. On his interceptions it was also his worst attribute, but there was more good than bad. He obviously knows what the play calls are, where his reads are, and just how long he has before he’s going to be in trouble from the pass rush. This alone makes him a superior choice to take the field over the likes of Jeff Driskel and may stave off Blake Bortles from seeing the field any time soon.
I’ve been most worried about his arm strength as it has been something I’ve noticed in last year’s preseason games and his short action the week before this. But he showed in this game, he knows how to set his feet, generate tork, and deliver the long ball even if his arm isn’t a howitzer the likes of John Elway or Drew Lock even.
The obvious worry is him making repeated terrible decisions on where to go with the ball. On all three of his interceptions, it seemed like he was going to one read no matter what happened and it really bit him in the ass. Hopefully that is something that Pat Shurmur can work on him with before our next game to minimize the mistakes as you normally don’t win games where your quarterback throws three INTs.
Also let’s not forget his lead block on the last TD of the game for the Broncos. No, he didn’t actually completely block the guy, but he did successfully get him off balance which allowed Gordon to stiff arm the guy and finish his 43 yard rumble.
Did anyone else notice that the play on the right side of the line was superior to any of the previous 3 weeks? I did. Having Demar Dotson at RT made a difference in this game. No, he wasn’t amazing. He was at least average though and that is a vast improvement over the play we’ve seen at right tackle previous to this game.
I haven’t mentioned much about it because I love me some Dalton Risner, but what the heck has happened to our stud left guard? His play was straight up shaky at times in this game and has not been all that solid in the beginning of this season.
Lloyd Cushenberry III has had a fairly rough rookie season to date, but I have to say that I was quite impressed with his play batting a sure INT away from an opponent after a batted pass. That was some real heads-up football that helped keep us from being the team walking off the field in week 4 with a 0-4 record.
If Shelby Harris is the MVP on defense, Melvin Gordon was the MVP on offense. I’ve talked about his grit and power for the past few weeks and at this point we’re just reiterating that he’s a damned good NFL running back.
Tim Patrick looked outstanding in this game especially considering that he started the season as a depth WR and the Broncos had a 3rd stringer starting at QB. Patrick is a receiver that has great size and deceptive speed much like Courtland Sutton. He got to showcase it against The Jets.
Jerry Jeudy showed laser focus getting the TD catch...he had no business making that catch on an under thrown ball that should have been a pick. But at the end of the day great talent makes game changing plays.
DeaSean Hamilton had such a supreme opportunity in this game to make a big play and the moment was far too great for him. Rypien threw a very catchable ball that Hamilton just lost and ended up looking like a guy on the back end of the roster in training camp trying to make a play and keep a paycheck.
I can not begin to tell you how clutch Brandon McManus was in this game. This was at New York. That’s close to sea level and he nailed two field goals over 50 yards and made it look like they were extra point attempts. He’s making John Elway’s decision to extend him look better and better each day.
It was good to finally see a big play out of Dionte Spencer with an almost walk in touchdown on a punt return. It is never a good day to get tackled by a punter, but to be fair that punter made a heck of play and put Tyrie Cleveland in a spot where he just couldn’t block without getting a penalty.
As a fan, I’m very happy to have watched a game where my team was competitive and got a win.
As a long time analyst of NFL football, I’m hesitant to get my hopes up too much based off this game. The competition was pretty weak and the team still had far too many really bad plays on both sides of the ball.
Drew Lock can’t get healthy fast enough in my mind as regardless of if we win or lose, seeing him in more action tells us more about the future of this team than anything else we have to look forward to over the next few weeks of the season.