My hopes were for a blowout win. My fears were that we would lose a close away game. It was a start to a hopefully bright future for Nathaniel Hackett, his coaches, and our new shiny quarterback.
Unfortunately, it was a very bumpy start which leaves fans with a bad taste in our mouths. Let’s dig in and see the good (there were plenty) and the bad (there were also plenty of these) that we saw on the field.
I don’t know what Ejiro Evero had dialed in wrong with the defense in the first half, but I’m quite happy they solved the conundrum at halftime.
Our defenders gave away points, yards, and passes that should have never happened and it all points to poor preparation and/or execution. I feel like they will have a lot to talk about when they review this as a unit.
There was no early pass rush. Our coverage got blown multiple times. Our ILBs looked honestly inept most of the time. When your free safety and one of your cornerbacks are 2nd and 3rd in tackles for your defense, let’s just say there are some issues that need to be resolved.
Then the 2nd half came. Our pass rush started getting there. Our coverage was solid. Our ILBs started mostly being where they needed to be and they held the Seahawks to mostly nothing.
Bradley Chubb finally woke up and got a good rush off in the 4th quarter forcing a fumble and a big loss of yards. He got a second sack on a 3rd down. It took him a bit to get warmed up, but I’m happy to see Chubb looking healthy and impacting plays again. We’ve missed him being complete and able to impact games.
The Bronco’s front had a big-time stop on 4th down and 1 in the first half that was impressive to see. Those in recent years have been gimme plays for our opponents and it was good to see our guys hold it down and force the turnover on downs.
Randy Gregory was having a rough go at rushing the passer, but in the 3rd quarter, he made one hell of a play by ripping the ball out on a receiver that got held up forcing a fumble. Of the two edge players that saw most of the snaps, I saw a lot more out of Gregory as far as penetration, though he didn’t get home except on the one forced fumble. That’s okay…as long as you can disrupt the pocket, it opens up plays for the rest of the front, especially from the opposite edge. He only was on the field for around 60% of the snaps so it is likely he’s still shaking off the rust.
Ronald Darby showed some pretty bad coverage on PI call early in the game. He was being inordinately grabby. It is something he’ll need to clean up as he’s going to see a lot of passes his way as the season wears on. His play overall was pretty good with pass defense and forced fumble to his credit.
Patrick Surtain barely got seen in this game and I’m just fine with that. He’s getting the #1 CB consideration where Geno Smith largely didn’t want to risk throws at him. That’s pretty dang good for a 2nd-year corner.
My first problem with this offense was not understanding why the team was passing so heavily when the run game was working so well early. I know our new HC and QB are offensive juggernauts and want to slap their pass-happy stuff down on the table for everyone to behold in all its glory. But can we just do things to sensibly win games when we are on the road? Quiet the crowd down? Extend the drives? Break the will of the defense?
I really liked seeing effective screens from our offense again. The Broncos had a lot of success with it and it added a big wrinkle to the offense to help move the chains. The only nit there is that they went to the well a little too often with a couple of screens being ineffective in the 2nd half because the opponents had seen it too many times and were keying on it.
I thought overall this offense looked really dynamic and like a real modern NFL offense. I think this game feels completely different if Hackett kicks a FG on 4th and 1 at the goalline in the 3rd quarter. I think it also feels different if Williams doesn’t fumble on the next goal line opportunity we floundered away.
Russell Wilson is the player that this team is going to win or lose with. The first thing that stuck out to me in this game was the little bits of inaccuracy that consistently showed up in his game. I’m not sure if it is nerves or typical of him, but even on many of his completions the ball was either overthrown a touch or underthrown. He was outright lucky that he didn’t get an INT late in the 2nd quarter with a severely underthrown ball.
This honestly is a quarterback knocking the rust off though. You have to deal with that when you don’t play them in the preseason. Even with rust, Wilson threw for over 300 yards and had this team in position to win the game. I think as the season wears on you are going to see some bananas play from Wilson in a really good way.
I think this line played very well especially when you throw in the wrinkle of losing a starting guard up front. Yes, there were a couple of sacks. Yes, there were some runs with no holes for the backs. But in most of the plays I saw a line that was doing its job well and an offense that was playing pretty darn well.
Javonte Williams picked up where he left off last season running like a beast. Unlike last season he saw the most targets (12) of anyone on the team and showed that he is a reliable pass catcher out of the backfield. It is going to give nightmares to defenses as the season wears on. His fumble at the goal line was awful. Keep that ball tight to your chest with 3 points of contact and it doesn’t just pop out from a swipe.
Our #2 RB got an effective game turned in thanks to a lot of good runs in the 2nd half. His fumble was just as unfortunate as Pookie’s, but in my books, it never should have been the play call on 4th down.
Jerry Jeudy had early as a run blocker that was just sad effort. I was questioning his status as a football player until two plays later when he showed Broncos Country what he brings to the table. His focus on catching the 3rd down pass was impressive and he showed another gear once he got his feet that earned him the walk-in touchdown. It should be stated that that ball was underthrown and Jeudy straight-up earned that TD with sheer effort and skill.
Andrew Beck got several targets early and looked like a guy that will make a defense pay for ignoring him. As the game wore on, we saw plenty of targets for our tight ends and I really liked seeing a coach willing to get play calls for a guy like Beck to cause the defense headaches.
Albert Okwuebunam bailed out a drive by overpowering his defender to get a first down. He chipped in 5 catches and looked much like the dependable pass-catching tight end we saw last season.
I think the kicking teams have just as much work to do after this game as any other unit on the team. We let too many returns get too many yards. The one punt we made was really poorly covered as well.
Brandon McManus did everything we need him to do outside of nail a ridiculous 64-yard field goal to win the game. I can’t bring myself to really dog on that though…I don’t think you should kick field goals that long and expect them to go in more than 50% of the time at best.
At the end of the day, this is what you get with a young first-time head coach. A lot of growth needs to happen at the headset level for the team and I think it will happen. Hackett seems like a sharp young head coach that is going to learn and grow and I chalk this loss up to the growing pains of a young team (in almost every way).
I’d like to see us take sure points in obvious places, have a team that is more disciplined (fewer penalties), and maybe lean on that franchise QB at the end of the game instead of kicking a field goal from Narnia. It is all growth until you show that you aren’t willing to learn and with only one game under his belt, we’re a far cry from really being able to throw too much shade on Hackett for this one.
I’ll take the loss by one instead of by 10+ any day of the week though. The team fought hard, played well, and lost the game with their mistakes. Let me know in the comments what you thought, Broncos Country!