Well that… sucked.
In the first divisional matchup of the Russell Wilson/Nathaniel Hackett era, against the only 0-3 team in the NFL, the Las Vegas Raiders, the Denver Broncos embarrassed themselves.
The first half saw promise, with Russell Wilson throwing multiple touchdown passes and appearing closer to the HOF QB Denver had hoped they traded for. It all seemed to be running smoothly, with the game tied at 10 and the Broncos driving into Vegas territory, when an all too familiar tragedy struck–a Melvin Gordon fumble that was recovered for a Raider touchdown.
The subsequent Broncos drive did see them score a touchdown, and they entered the half only trailing by 3, but it was obvious the momentum shift that took place from that point forward.
In the second half, the Broncos offense put together four consecutive drives where they accumulated 18 total yards of offense…
It wasn’t until eight minutes left in the 4th quarter that fans finally saw a sustained offensive drive, and it was orchestrated almost entirely by Russ himself. He converted a 3rd and 9 with a scramble; he somehow moved the sticks after starting with a 1st and 30, eventually throwing a 55-yard dime to KJ Hamler, and even called his own number on a read option to score and put Denver within two points.
Sadly, the defense, which had done its job containing big plays and touchdowns, was worn down and began to give up chunks. A five minute and fourteen second drive ending in a touchdown saw the Broncos hopes of victory pushed out of reach. They fall to 2-2, and look for a quick rebound Thursday against the Indianapolis Colts.
On top of the crushing Denver defeat, the Broncos lost star RB Javonte Williams for the season to a multi-ligament knee tear, and star EDGE Randy Gregory for 4-6 weeks to a knee injury.
So that’s the bad news. Sunday wasn’t a great day for the Broncos as a whole, but there were still a few guys who made plays all game against Vegas.
Time for the good news, with my film reviews on the performances of Patrick Surtain II, Dre’mont Jones, and Montrell Washington; with a bonus section on newly signed Broncos RB, Latavius Murray.
Patrick Surtain II
Patrick Surtain II clips vs. Raiders/Davante Adams— Frankie Abbott (@FrankiesFilm) October 4, 2022
-best wr/cb duel I've watched this season
-Adams is the best separator in the league and wasn't given an inch by PS2
-PS2 is the press god
-Some great back shoulder throws from Carr
-PS2's patience on the GL is mind-blowing pic.twitter.com/9F4iA2NfUw
I don’t want to make a habit of using the same player in back-to-back weeks, but what PS2 did against Davante Adams was must-watch television.
Davante Adams is the best separator in the NFL who can win from every receiver position, and his connection with Derek Carr makes him one of the toughest assignments for any CB in the NFL.
While Adams still managed a 100 yard game, a majority of those yards came when Surtain wasn’t the man in coverage. When Surtain was guarding Adams, he managed to hold the receiver to 46 yards on 8 targets with 3 PBUs. The yardage number would be lower if it weren’t for two perfectly placed back shoulder throws, which Surtain still had position on.
It was a usual day at the office for Surtain.
We saw him disrupt multiple Adams routes straight off the line with his press. His quickness and agility when covering the quick cuts of Davante was incredible allowing for no separation, and his timing and accuracy of his PBUs make him one of the toughest CBs to attack.
Once you get him near the goal line he’s too smart to be fooled; perfectly covering Adams on option routes, and not biting on fake pick routes when they’re thrown at him.
He is the best corner in the NFL and a nightmare for receivers he faces every week.
Dre'mont Jones clips vs. Las Vegas Raiders pic.twitter.com/MHh184bfeM— Frankie Abbott (@FrankiesFilm) October 5, 2022
While the Broncos run defense had an incredibly lackluster day, giving up 212 total rushing yards and two touchdowns, Dre’Mont Jones continued his impressive season creating havoc in the Raiders backfield and generating numerous TFL’s on Josh Jacobs.
Jacobs has been a thorn in the Broncos side for the entirety of his Raider career, and that continued on Sunday, with a 144 yard, two touchdown performance.
He did however become closely familiar with Dre’Mont, who made his way past the Raider front on four separate occasions, blowing up Jacobs for a loss.
He also managed two pressures on the day, and we continue to see Ejiro Evero deploy him all over the Denver defensive line, from 3-tech to stand up outside rusher. He’s developed great chemistry with fellow defensive linemen DJ Jones as they work together fantastically on stunts and twists, one of which got home against Carr with DJ Jones picking up the sack.
Dre’Mont’s burst off the line is incredible, and he effectively combines that with a club move to consistently move guards off their spot in the run game.
On Sunday with the Raiders driving to the 1-yard line, Dre’Mont exploded through the B gap and tore the head off (literally, there should have been a facemask called) of Josh Jacobs.
Jones has been great this season, and Evero is putting him in a position to fully utilize his toolkit. If he continues on this trend, we could see a Pro Bowl nod for Dre’Mont Jones this year.
Montrell Washington clips vs. Vegas Raiders pic.twitter.com/1EoXN5QzB9— Frankie Abbott (@FrankiesFilm) October 5, 2022
You know it’s a bad game when I’m highlighting specialists… I kid, I kid.
In reality, Montrell was electric and spent the entire game putting the Broncos offense in great position to score points.
It was the Tom McMahon revenge game, and Washington delivered with returns of 30, 22, and 16 yards, and even added a 4 yard reception on a quick screen.
I was skeptical of the Montrell pick when it happened due to the lack of scouting material available on him, but quickly he looks like another gem from the George Paton scouting department.
He possesses immense speed and agility and is a fearless runner for a guy of his size. When he’s in space, it’s fireworks, as he throws in jukes, spins, and broken tackles all over the place, generating yardage Broncos fans haven’t seen since Trindon Holliday.
He hasn’t had a splash play on offense yet (Nate Hobbs insane spin to beat the block stopped the screen) but it’s exciting seeing Hackett at least attempt to get the ball in his hands.
Washington currently leads the NFL in punt return yards, and among PR with at least three returns, he has the best average with 15.4 yards per runback.
New Broncos RB Latavius Murrays clips from his last two starts dating back to last year.— Frankie Abbott (@FrankiesFilm) October 5, 2022
-Week 18 vs. Steelers 16/150/1
-Week 4 vs. Vikings 11/57/1 pic.twitter.com/JX3QlC9Rvb
Following the soul-crushing injury to Javonte Williams, and the lack of trust in Melvin Gordon, Denver signed veteran RB Latavius Murray off the New Orleans Saints practice squad.
The Broncos will be Murray’s 5th NFL franchise after his second stint with the Saints ended last weekend, and he’s reunited with George Paton from his time in Minnesota.
Murray is a bruising back, coming in at 6’3 230 lbs, and will supplement the ability to break tackles that was lost with Williams quite well.
Murray has over 5,500 rushing yards and 50 TDs in his career with over 3,400 of those yards coming after contact. He has a career 4.2 yard average per carry, and over the span of 1,300 carries has only fumbled the ball 9 times.
This was a steal for Denver, as Murray was decently utilized by New Orleans just this last Sunday, and even scored a touchdown for them in their defeat to Minnesota.
He’s an incredible downhill runner who should hopefully provide stability to a room that needs it dearly.
Hopefully the addition of Murray and a possible resurgence of Melvin Gordon will see the running game come alive, but until the return of Quinn Meinerz, Billy Turner, and maybe Netane Muti, I think it will continue to be tough sledding for Denver running the ball.