The Denver Broncos had a rough Saturday afternoon in western New York. They traveled to Buffalo to take on the Bills for their week two preseason matchup. Unfortunately, it did not go all that well as they were defeated by a score of 42 to 15.
It was a tough game but we saw two very different philosophies by these two teams that gave us this predictable result. Quarterback Josh Allen and a good chunk of the Bills starters started the game while the Broncos sent out their number two offense and defense with some select starters mixed in. It was a predictable result and we saw the Broncos playing their third team defense in the second quarter against a mix of Bills' first and second-teamers
With all that said, the Broncos didn’t play well as a whole. Also, we saw some depth issues stand out a bit more in this game that should get GM George Paton working the phone.
So, let us take a look at the winners and well, mostly losers for the Broncos after today’s 42-15 loss to the Buffalo Bills.
WR/KR Montrell Washington
One of the few bright spots of the game was Broncos’ fifth-round selection, WR/KR Montrell Washington. After a strong training camp, he continued that into the preseason and performed well in back-to-back games.
He showcased how explosive he can be on multiple plays today, including on a kick return. He has done this all camp and now in two preseason games so I think it’s safe to assume that the rookie should be an impactful player for the Broncos this year.
He is the Broncos kick and punt returner come week one and likely will get some reps on offense as well. Sure, he is a little bit undersized but he has explosion you cannot teach and will be dangerous is allowed to make plays in space.
I am excited to see what the rookie can do with Russell Wilson and the Broncos' starting offense on the field.
RB Mike Boone
After a disappointing preseason opener for Boone and the Broncos' run game, Boone showcased why he’s a talented back, especially when he’s not met in the backfield by defenders.
He looked explosive and like the Broncos' best offensive player on the field during their first drive against the Bills' starting defense. He looked explosive, shifty, made defenders miss, and showed that he can be trusted to take snaps if needed if Williams or Gordon were to miss time.
Boone has proven time after time that he can play when given a chance so that’s not a huge surprise, but nice to see considering the rest of the run game did little to nothing at all.
Punter Corliss Waitman
During warm-ups, veteran punter Sam Martin injured his ankle and was unable to punt for the game. This allowed Waitmann to handle punt duties for the rest of the game and he did not disappoint.
Corliss Waitman with a 63-yard punt. 5.20 seconds of hang time. Bounces at the 3. But no one is there, so it goes into the end zone. 63 yards gross, 43 yards net.— Andrew Mason (@MaseDenver) August 20, 2022
Waitman boomed a 60+ yarder during the game that should have been downed inside the 10-yard line if the coverage wasn’t fooled by a fake fair catch by the Bills returner.
Both are still in a punting battle for the starting gig and any injury here could sway the battle one way or the other. If Martin were to miss a significant amount of time, Waitman may have the inside track to the starting job.
WR Jalen Virgil
Last week we saw Virgil catch three balls for 83 yards and entered his name in the 53-man roster conversation. This week, while he wasn’t as productive, he still did some positive things when given the chance.
The speedy receiver went up and made a brilliant catch during the final minutes of today’s game against the Bills. We also saw him returning kicks behind Montrell Washington which is a bit of a development.
He still did play with the third-team offense which isn’t a great sign if you want him to make the 53-man roster, but he has continued to make plays.
It was a tough game for the former third-round pick. He was being beat by elite receiver Stefon Diggs at times but also struggling a bit against the Bills' reserve receivers. He took some poor angles and just didn’t look great. He also suffered a dislocated elbow which figures to sideline him for over a month at least.
Stefon Diggs ran right past Michael Ojemudia. Extremely tough matchup for OJ.— Zac Stevens (@ZacStevensDNVR) August 20, 2022
Ojemudia earned the start as the Broncos CB1 for the second straight week and is coming off his second straight rough game. In this game, the Bills’ quarterbacks seemed to be targeting the Broncos' fourth corner and he was getting beat easily. He also was taking some poor angles on ball carriers.
He entered training camp with some hype but he didn’t live up to that and his struggles as a member of the Broncos continued. Now, he likely is sidelined a month or so with a dislocated elbow and you have to wonder about his roster status moving forward.
The Broncos' corner depth isn’t great and Ojemudia’s struggles and on top of the injury he suffered is not an ideal situation. I look for Broncos GM George Paton to make some moves here during the cuts period.
The recently signed veteran looked like a guy signed off the street six days ago and was forced into playing an NFL game. He looked slow out there, wasn’t reading the play well and his tackling was piss poor at best.
Joe Schobert misses a chance at an open-field tackle on his second play in the game — an additional 12 yards after contact follows. Buffalo moving the ball again.— Andrew Mason (@MaseDenver) August 20, 2022
With Griffith sidelined potentially into the regular season, the Broncos' inside linebacking depth needs to step up behind starter Josey Jewell. With that in mind, the Broncos signed veteran Joe Schobert just last week hoping he would solve their issues. Even though he signed just six days ago, the veteran did not look very good out there.
I assumed Schobert was basically locked into a roster spot but today looked rough and unless he really turns it around in the coming days and weeks, he could be among the final cuts.
The Broncos’ big tight end may not deserve to be here but his usage in this game makes you wonder about him moving forward. For the second straight game, Albert O. started the game and played deep into the game.
Nathaniel Hackett on Albert Okwuegbunam playing into the second half:— Aric DiLalla (@AricDiLalla) August 20, 2022
"Albert's a guy who needs reps."
He said he's encouraged with where the tight ends are.
Head Coach Nathaniel Hackett said that Okwuegbunam is simply just a guy who needs reps but could it mean more? His blocking skills still aren’t great and even though he’s a presumed starter, he has played deep into two straight preseason games while the rest of the starters have barely even dressed for the game.
This has to make you wonder if the Broncos are not completely happy with their tight end room. Albert O. is a solid receiver and we know what he can do there but he needs to be able to block in the run game.
So, we shall see what happens here moving forward. It could simply be just getting an inexperienced tight end some reps or something more.
Broncos run game
After Mike Boone left the game, the Broncos' run game was non-existent for the second straight game and only totaled 32 yards
Running back Mike Boone on how critical it is for the Broncos to get the running game rolling:— Aric DiLalla (@AricDiLalla) August 20, 2022
"I feel like the run starts everything. In order to pass good, you’ve got to be able to run good. It’s extremely important."
Denver averaged < 2.0 yards per carry again.
Now, the silver lining here is that the guys running the ball will not be making the roster and the majority of the blockers here will also not make the roster. So, how well they did and did not do is really insignificant in the grand scheme of everything.
However, you still want to see this unit do better and for the second straight week, they struggled badly.
I think things will be much different when the starting offensive line and Javonte Williams and Melvin Gordon are in the backfield.
Broncos' overall defense/tackling
What a piss poor showing here overall. I will note that the second team defense was playing the Bills starters and the third team defense was playing against a mix of first and second-teamers as well, but still. It was not a showing that makes you feel great about the team.
Again, it should be noted that the Broncos did not start many of their starters and we saw people who will not make the team struggle but you still want better execution.
We saw this last week against the Cowboys but this looked like a completely different team. At the end of the day, use this as a teaching moment and move on because it was just a meaningless preseason game.