Any time you are down to three third-stringers in any position group you are going to struggle mightily in the NFL. For a large part of the game on Sunday the Denver Broncos had their third-string LT, RT and C in the game. This is how DeMarcus Walker (who now has 16.0 career sacks) can play like Aaron Donald. If only he could play in the Titans-Broncos games every game he would be a lock for the Hall of Fame. He now has 3.5 of his career 16 sacks and 5 of his career 31 QBhits when the Broncos play the Titans.
The Broncos offense had two weeks to prepare for a depleted Tennessee Titans’ defense. The offense managed one touchdown (which came on a blown coverage and a slip on that horrible field in Nashville) and converted on 4 of 17 3rd downs. The offense had three decent/good drives, two of which resulted in points. The other ten actual drives resulted in nine punts and an interception.
I know that losing three starters on offense during the game has to wreak havoc on the offense, but the offensive coaches have to be able to adapt. If the talent on offense is that lacking that our backups at OT, C and WR are not capable of performing at replacement level then this team has as little talent on offense as some of the writers declared it to have prior to the season.
Luke Wattenberg got his first real game action on Sunday playing 25 snaps. He was completely not ready. On one play he is supposed to block back on the DE/DT to allow Risner to pull and lead the way for a bootleg by Russell Wilson. Wattenberg literally runs right past the defender without touching him, and that defender quickly sacks Wilson. After the play you see Risner, arms down, palms upraised, looking at Wattenberg with the “you had one job” look.
Quinn Bailey also played significant time in this game when Billy Turner got hurt. This was only the second significant playing time for Bailey. His first was the win over the Chargers last season in which he played 63% of the offensive snaps in relief of Cameron Fleming or Bobby Massie (can’t remember which). In this game he played 62% of the offensive snaps (50 snaps).
With Bailey and Wattenberg in the game, the offense was unable to do anything. Turner was hurt during the field goal drive (how sad is it that I don’t even have to say which FG drive or which TD drive since we only had one of each?). After that drive (not counting the kneel-down before the half), the offense ran 36 plays and gained 106 yards - most of which (50) came on the final desperation drive at the end of the game. 2.94 yards per play is atrocious.
The other starters on the OL all played 100 percent of the snaps.
Greg Dulcich played the most of the tight ends see 71 offensive snaps (89 percent), but he was mostly a non-factor in this game with one catch on four targets. The Erics played 21 and 15 snaps (does it really matter which Eric got which?).
Losing Jerry Jeudy on the first offensive play meant that Kendall Hinton played the most snaps of the WR group with 77 (96 percent). This was a career high for him. I love Hinton’s story, but being forced to use him so much was another reason the offense was so inept. Courtland Sutton played 92 percent of the snaps. I shouldn’t dump on Hinton alone. Being forced to use Tyrie Cleveland and Jalen Virgil for 27 and 24 snaps means that we had plenty of poor route runners on the field. Montrell Washington played 7 offensive snaps, but didn’t touch the ball on offense.
Inexplicably, Melvin Gordon continued to get the majority of the RB snaps. He played 43 snaps (54 percent) and had 11 touches. Latavius Murray only played 25 snaps, but he 12 touches. Chase Edmonds played 15 snaps and had 3 touches. The Bronco run game was mostly useless in this game as both defenses were flying to ball to stuff the run game. The Broncos ran the ball 24 times for 66 yards (removing the kneeldown) - 2.75 yards per carry with a long of 11 is just wasting snaps. Fourteen of the Bronco 24 runs on Sunday gained 1 yard or fewer with nine going for no gain or losing yards.
If you add the six sacks, the nine runs for zero or negative yards and the 21 incompletions, the Broncos had 36 plays on Sunday that either gained no yards or lost yards. 36 of 72 non-penalty snaps.
The longest run of the season for the Broncos continues to be 19 yards and it was by Trell. Our longest RB carry of the season was 17 yards.
|Patrick Surtain II||CB||62||100%|
Normally the Broncos play with two safeties on the field every play, but to combat the threat of Derrick Henry, the Broncos pulled P.J. Locke (who was making his first NFL start) off the field for 21 percent of the defensive plays and replaced him with Jonas Griffith. This was very effective as the Broncos were able to hold the Titans to 63 yards rushing on 23 carries. Using a 3-5 defense or a 4-4 has been employed in the past by the Broncos, but swapping an ILB in for a safety is something I hadn’t seen us do before.
Four defenders played every defensive snap” Damarri Mathis, Josey Jewell, Patrick Surtain II, and Kareem Jackson.
On the DL, Dre’Mont Jones played 51 snaps, DJ Jones 38, Mike Purcell 35, DeShawn Williams 32, Jonathan Harris 24 and Matt Henningsen 9. The Titans ran 62 offensive plays so in theory, if we had three defensive linemen on the field for every play, there should have been 186 DL snaps to go around. The DL accounted for 189, meaning that we used some fronts with four defensive linemen and some fronts with five linebackers. James Lofton pointed this out during his color commentary.
Alex Singleton played 33 snaps as the only ILB not mentioned yet.
The OLB group saw Jonathan Cooper getting the lion share for the first time in his career with 43 snaps. Nik Bonitto played 31 and Jacob Martin 22. Given that we only used three OLBs this game, it’s possible that Jonas Griffith could have spent some time lined up at OLB.
While the defense did a good job against the run, the pass rush was mostly non-existent. The Broncos had only one sack and four QB hits on the day. This was in stark contrast to the six sacks and 18 QBhits allowed by our patchwork OL. Despite how good he looked when playing alongside Baron Browning, Randy Gregory or Bradley Chubb, Bonitto was not able to produce when he was the best Bronco pass rusher on the field.
K’Waun Williams played well in his 38 snaps. Losing him to injury for 4 or more games will really hurt this defense. Essang Bassey played 16 defensive snaps.
Four defenders played on special teams but received no defensive snaps: Justin Strnad, Anthony Harris, Delarrin Turner-Yell and Michael Ojemudia.
Every active offensive player other than Brett Rypien played on offense.