It was a loss that was highlighted by penalties, an awful fumble, the defense being gashed, and two potentially significant injuries to two key Broncos starters. With all that said, I am going to give you five thoughts, opinions, complaints, and some venting about this game, the Broncos' current situation, and their future.
1. Injuries suck
The big injury coming out of this game was to Broncos promising young running back Javonte Williams. The physical back hurt his knee during the game and was helped off the field by trainers. He was unable to put any weight on his leg and was seen using crutches after the game. That is never a good sign and reports after the game are indicating that the Broncos fear Williams suffered a significant knee injury.
#Broncos RB Javonte Williams is feared to have suffered a serious knee injury, source said. He’ll have an MRI tomorrow to determine the full extent, but there is not a lot of optimism surrounding the injury.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) October 3, 2022
This sounds like a season-ending ACL injury. Hopefully, it’s a less serious injury that sidelines him for a few months, but regardless, the Broncos will be without Javonte Williams for an extended period of time at least.
Veteran Melvin Gordon will likely assume the starter role in place of Javonte (fumble issues be damned) while Mike Boone will slide into the 1B role behind Gordon. This is still a decent backfield, but losing Javonte for however long really does suck.
He is getting an MRI later today to get an actual diagnosis, but it sounds like we should prepare for the worst here.
Another injury was to Broncos edge rusher, Randy Gregory. He also suffered a knee injury, but it appears he may have dodged a bullet. After the game, he told reporters “I’m good. Don’t Worry”.
#Broncos Randy Gregory says to @MichaelCBS4 in locker room of his injury: "I'm good. Don't worry. That's official."— Paul Klee (@bypaulklee) October 2, 2022
He is receiving an MRI to see the extent of his injury, but hopefully, it ends up just being a minor injury. I don’t know if he’s fully out of the woods for a serious knee injury but the talk after the game seems a bit more positive here than it does with Javonte Williams.
2. Where is tight end Albert Okwuegbunam?
Heading into the season, tight end Albert Okwuegbunam was considered a breakout candidate at the tight end position. Noah Fant was shipped off to Seattle, and Albert O. flashed potential, has elite athleticism and did not really have a ton of competition for his job. However, he has been a pretty major disappointment thus far for the Broncos this season.
It got so bad for him that during yesterday’s loss, he played just one offensive snap for the Broncos.
Albert Okwuegbunam played exactly one offensive snap for Denver— Nathan Jahnke (@PFF_NateJahnke) October 3, 2022
Through four games, he has just 6 receptions for 45 yards and 0 touchdowns. Five of those six receptions came in week one. Since then, he has been practically invisible on offense and was barely on the field for this game. It sounds like he has been surpassed on the depth chart and isn’t even being considered as a receiving threat.
Rookie tight end Greg Dulcich is eligible to come off the injured reserve this week but is unlikely to play considering the short week. However, after the Thursday Night game, the Broncos have some time off to get Dulcich ready, and we could see the explosive rookie debut in week six. We shall see how it plays out, but that seems like the ideal scenario for both parties.
3. Broncos' defense was shredded
Through the first three weeks, the Broncos offense was lifeless but their stout defense helped them win two hard-fought games and move to a 2-1 record. However, the fortunes were flipped today. Russell Wilson and the Broncos' offense wasn’t great, but he still threw for 3 touchdowns and the Broncos scored 23 points. Unfortunately, the Broncos' defense couldn’t stop the Raiders despite looking like a top-notch defense through the first three weeks of the year.
Josh Jacobs making the Broncos defense look lousy.— Andrew Mason (@MaseDenver) October 2, 2022
Feels like I’ve seen this opera before.
What really stood out in this one was how bad their run defense was. They signed nose tackle D.J. Jones and re-signed inside linebacker Josey Jewell to solidify the middle of their defense. It looked good through the first three games, but in this one, the Raiders rushed for over 200 yards on the ground. Raiders running back Josh Jacobs was rarely held in check by the Broncos' defense and continuously gashed them for big gains. He averaged 5.1 yards per carry and found the end zone twice against the Broncos' defense.
A week after edge rusher Bradley Chubb said the Broncos have the best defense in the league, they were humbled by their hated division rivals. After this game, he told reporters that they needed this and called this effort a “wake up call” for them.
They have a short week coming up and host Matt Ryan and the Colts on Thursday Night Football. So, if they want to put this game behind them, they can look to shut down the Colts' offense and help the team improve to 3-2 on the season.
4. This team does not feel like a playoff team
After the Broncos acquired Pro-Bowl quarterback Russell Wilson, the expectations for this season went through the roof. However, a month into the season, it appears that we may have overestimated how good this team is and might just be an average team at best.
This team is a few unlucky bounces against the Texans and 49ers from being a winless team. They really have not played a clean game and their only two victories were “ugly wins”. You could also argue that they have been outcoached by 70-year-old Pete Carroll and former Broncos Head Coach Josh McDaniels in these two losses as well.
This team just does not feel like a playoff team and feels like a team still searching for an identity.
It is still early and things can and will change but it is tough to feel confident about this team moving forward. Especially watching them get outcoached by Pete Carroll and Josh McDaniels in their two losses which all came on the road.
A win against the Colts could change my mood here, but a lot of the issues plaguing this team remain. We’re still seeing a lot of penalties, some weird play-calling on offense, and coaching decisions derail this team. Injuries are also starting to pile up which is impacting the team.
I hope I am wrong, but this team feels like more of a disappointment that could be heading into another offseason full of question marks and changes than a contender ready to make noise in the postseason.
5. Injuries impacting the offense
There was so much hype surrounding this offense full of playmakers. However, we are one month into the 2022 regular season and all these playmakers are missing. Courtland Sutton looks destined for a Pro-Bowl season and potentially a double-digit touchdown season, but after that, it has all been disappointing.
Part of the reason the offense has been disappointing is because of injuries sidelining the players who were supposed to make this offense explosive. If you include poor play and/or players not living up to their expectations into this, you can see why this unit isn’t living up to the offseason hype.
- WR Tim Patrick tore his ACL in Camp and will miss the entire 2022 regular season
- Rookie TE Greg Dulcich missed all of camp and the entire preseason and is currently on the injured reserve
- Explosive receiver K.J. Hamler has one catch in four games
- WR Jerry Jeudy has flashed potential but has yet to put it all together for the Broncos
- Tight end Albert Okwuegbunam appears to be in the coaches dog house and the Broncos’ tight ends haven’t produced as much as we hoped
- RB Javonte Williams appears to have suffered a significant knee injury and will miss an extended period of time.
- RB Melvin Gordon has five fumbles in the past five games if you include the 2021 season finale
Many of you probably already have done this, but we need to rethink our expectations with this offense. The injuries are piling up to key members of this unit and they’re not going to suddenly flip a switch and become a top offense in the league. This is likely going to be a grind with some high points mixed in with some low points. Hopefully, the injury bug stays away, but so far, it’s been biting the Broncos a good bit this season.