Finally, a somewhat competent victory! It wasn’t perfect, and it wasn’t always pretty, but traveling over the pond (high knees included) and pulling out a win after all the adversity is much-needed for the staff, players, and fanbase.
It was a somewhat disastrous start for the offense, as Russ threw multiple interception-worthy throws (one of which was caught by the defense) within the first couple of Denver possessions. The team fell to an early 10-0 deficit, and all hope felt lost as the repeated errors, which had cost Denver five games in the first seven weeks of the season, continued to choke the belief out of all in Broncos Country.
But thanks to the heroics of Justin Simmons on the goal line and a rejuvenated offense in the second half, Denver managed to turn this game (and possibly their season) around.
As it stands, the Denver Broncos sit at 3-5 with around a 14% chance of making the playoffs. A deep playoff run is massively unlikely this year, but an improved showing from the offense, and more importantly, Russell Wilson, down the stretch would go a long way in restoring the faith of Broncos fans for the coming years of the ‘Russ Era’.
The celebrations from this victory didn’t feel long-lasting, as on Tuesday afternoon, Denver traded away Bradley Chubb to the Miami Dolphins as the trade deadline closed. A massive shift in the locker room and to the Denver defense, this loss dramatically impacts the outlook of this season. But with the aforementioned likelihood of the team making the playoffs, George Paton decided to instead invest in the somewhat long-term solution, opting for draft capital and salary flexibility to bolster this roster in the coming offseason.
The deadline saw Denver acquire Chase Edmonds, Jacob Martin, San Francisco’s ‘23 first round pick, and a 2024 fourth rounder; while trading away Chubb, a 2024 4th, and a 2025 5th.
The Broncos are back in the first round and hopefully their selection, along with the pending free agent class, can go a long way toward remedying the offensive woes.
We can’t get too ahead of ourselves though, as there are still a minimum of nine Broncos games left this season, and the evaluation for the current roster mustn’t cease.
So without further delay, here are the film notes from Greg Dulcich, Justin Simmons, K’waun Williams, and Calvin Anderson’s performances against Jacksonville.
Greg Dulcich clips vs. Jacksonville Jaguars pic.twitter.com/lRnS4SkpKL— Frankie Abbott (@FrankiesFilm) November 1, 2022
Greg Dulcich is having an unheard-of start to his career as an NFL tight end with 182 yards through his first three games. He’s developing in every facet before our eyes, and the coaching staff is unleashing him in various ways that opposing defenses don’t expect.
He completely dominated the tight end room snap count this week, playing on 80%(49) of snaps and lining up in a multitude of positions.
When the offense needed a spark, Dulcich was the go-to. When Russell needed a checkdown, Dulcich was the go-to. He worked the seams well for big gains, he found soft spots in zones, he worked on scramble drills to get open for his QB, and he caught everything with ease. Early on, he appears to be another Paton draft stud, and if he continues to develop in the blocking game could become one of the better up-and-coming tight ends in the entire league.
In the 3rd quarter, Dulcich had one drive where he single-handedly dragged the Broncos’ offense down the field. A drive that started from the 2-yard line saw Dulcich haul in 3 passes for 78 yards. His biggest play of the game came on a broken coverage where he worked up the right sideline for a massive game and almost dragged defenders into the endzone.
Later on, he came within mere feet of catching the biggest bomb of Wilson’s Bronco career if it weren’t for a slight overthrow, and on the Jeudy tap-pass TD he laid a critical block on Travon Walker to open a lane for Jerry to squeeze through.
It wasn’t a great day overall blocking against Walker, but considering the immense talent Travon possesses, I give Dulcich a slight pass for struggling to contain this goblin consistently.
Dulcich continues to impress, and hopefully he finishes the year strong and gives Denver a quality offensive weapon to build off of in the future.
Justin Simmons clips vs. Jacksonville pic.twitter.com/UqstglTUO1— Frankie Abbott (@FrankiesFilm) November 2, 2022
This is the type of performance you hope to see out of a defensive captain when the team is struggling.
Early on, it was apparent that Justin was back to his pre-injury form, as he played the run assertively and routinely cleaned up tackles. The past couple of weeks had seen him missing a few uncharacteristic tackles, so this return to form was much welcomed and sparked the team alive with one massive play in the second quarter that may have changed Denver’s season.
After a 10-0 start Jacksonville regained possession and looked to increase their already multi-score lead. With the assistance of some wildly soft penalties, one of which was a taunting call on Justin after he made a massive stop in the flat for a loss, Jacksonville was within a yard of pay dirt.
On what would’ve been a walk-in Evan Engram TD, Simmons held to hopefully give Denver one more shot. One play later, Surtain had a flag thrown his way. More opportunities for Jacksonville to crush Denver’s spirit. Then… It happened.
Rolling to his right, running out of real estate, Trevor Lawrence attempts to throw a 2-seam fastball directly over the outstretched arms of Simmons, unluckily for Trevor… Justin Simmons is the best safety in the NFL.
A miraculous spinning leap and the ball stuck to Simmons gloves like glue. The momentum carried him into the endzone for a touchback, and the ballgame had new life. If Simmons doesn’t make that play, this is likely a 2-6 football team.
Calvin Anderson clips vs. Jacksonville pic.twitter.com/tmZUargGKX— Frankie Abbott (@FrankiesFilm) November 2, 2022
First, this was the best game of Calvin Anderson’s career.
Second, this was probably the best game a Broncos LT has played in 2022.
What a performance from Calvin. This Jacksonville Jaguars pass rush is no slouch, as he spent the day matched up against Josh Allen and Arden Key, but Calvin was up for the challenge.
Impressive rep after impressive rep, and as the game went on, Calvin settled in and got even better. His sets were clean and explosive, he showed off adequate strength to anchor the pocket for Russ, and he even managed to generate some decent push in the run game.
Anyone who has followed Calvin’s career thus far knows how much smoother and more comfortable he looks playing on the left versus right side, and this game further solidified that fact. His athleticism is rare and when he can comfortably set on the left, he’s a great fit in the scheme Hackett and Outten are trying to run.
On many of Russell’s deep pass attempts, it’s Calvin holding steady in his one on one matchup; on the few Russell scrambles, he maneuvers towards Calvin’s side to escape.
This game was an excellent step for Anderson’s career, and with the unlucky, season-ending injury to Bolles, he will have a great opportunity to earn himself major money in free agency with his play.
Josh Allen is a great pass rusher, but he’s more of a speed and finesse rusher, which Anderson is well equipped to deal with. The actual test will come against some of the more powerful rushers remaining on the Denver docket, such as Khalil Mack, Maxx Crosby, and Odafe Oweh. Still, if Calvin can show he can handle himself against those types of pass rushers, Denver might need to consider keeping Calvin around and moving off of the Bolles contract.
K'waun Williams clips vs. Jacksonville pic.twitter.com/vAwrKm56MC— Frankie Abbott (@FrankiesFilm) November 2, 2022
K’waun was tasked with covering the explosive slot receiver that is Christian Kirk, and did an excellent job containing him throughout the afternoon.
With only the full use of one hand with the other in a club, K’waun made constant plays on the football and continued to be the unsung hero of Denver’s defense and secondary. Williams had multiple diving pass breakups of Lawrence and was active in the run game, beating blocks and hitting ball carriers.
His most impressive run stop of the afternoon came on an outside run to the left where a pulling Cam Robinson attempted to lead block for his back. What he didn’t anticipate was K’waun hitting him like a cannonball, barreling the lineman back into his runner. One of the more impressive plays you’ll see from a 5’9 player on a 300+ pounder. This play was flagged for an illegal low-block on Williams and is a perfect example of why refs suck.
K’waun would have the final laugh though, as in the fourth quarter, after Denver finally managed to scrape out a lead with some vintage Russ magic, Williams made the play to seal Denver’s victory.
In a 2-minute drill, Lawrence dropped back and attempted to throw the outbreak on his right. K’waun read the play like the Sunday Funnies and broke on the football like his life depended on it. With one hand gloved and the other clubbed, Williams managed to pull the football out of the air for the interception. Ball game.
I was heartbroken in the offseason to see Bryce Callahan leave and wasn’t too high on the signing of Williams when it occurred. But he is making me regret those feelings, as through 8 weeks he’s playing slot corner for Denver as well as I’ve ever seen. He’s stout in the run game and shut down in the passing game. And he’s doing it all with the full use of only one hand.