I’ve been watching NFL football for decades. I’ve seen this team be good, bad, and ugly. I can’t remember for the life of me a time when I watched this football team win and come away feeling as negative and frustrated as I did this weekend.
I certainly have never watched a team need the fans to count down the playclock in order to avoid delay of game penalties. Part of me thinks that that is pretty darn smart, helpful, and supportive of the fans. But most of me feels like it is just sad.
The story of this team in the two weeks we’ve seen them is very clearly how poorly the coaching has been. There’s a lack of execution and discipline at all levels of the Denver Broncos that we haven’t seen since Vance Joseph was our head coach.
The saving grace I’m seeing is that even with all the mishaps, this team has talent. George Paton has built a team that can compete even in spite of the haphazard job that Nathaniel Hackett is doing so far in his tenure as a head coach.
Let’s take a minute to give some praise to Ejiro Evero and his defense. I was a BIG fan of Vic Fangio as a defensive coordinator and really felt like this coaching change was going to come with a big step back defensively with young Evero taking over.
Boy was I wrong.
This team has been competitive mainly because this defense has been so stinking stingy and opportunistic. I see a lot of guys in the right spots, swiping at the ball (and successfully causing fumbles even if they aren’t bouncing our way), and enforcing their will on our opponents.
That being said, Seattle and Houston aren’t exactly offensive juggernauts in the NFL. This defense could still have some challenges, but you can tell by watching that they seem to be well coached. Credit to Evero as well for having his backups ready to play without missing a beat with some major injuries to his roster.
Dre’Mont Jones was a force of nature in this game. He had two sacks for the Broncos, 1 TFL, a QH, and a forced fumble. We need this kind of inside presence for the defense to continue its success.
Randy Gregory was also a disruptive force with the timely strip sack as the Texans were driving right down the field in the 2nd half. He also had a TFL and pitched in 3 QHs as well as a sack.
Alex Singleton is doing a fine job, but I honestly miss seeing Josey Jewell out there and look forward to having our front seven back at full strength soon. This team’s schedule is going to get tougher soon and Jewell could make a big difference if he can get healthy.
Damarri Mathis gets a big mile-high salute from me as he played really well having to replace the injured Patrick Surtain II. He saved a big run in wide open space with a great open field tackle. He looked solid in coverage with a pass defense as well.
Caden Sterns also had the unenviable job of trying to fill the shoes of Justin Simmons. He also stepped in and helped the team hold the Texans to under 10 points. He’s a sound safety with a bright future in the league.
Ronald Darby didn’t seem to see many targets in this game. That’s because he played really well, you just won’t notice it on the stat sheet. The Texans didn’t want to throw his way because he was constantly lock-step right where he needed to be on his guy.
Nathaniel Hackett is the one person on the Broncos team that needs to do the most work and improve if this team is going to have any chance at a successful season. He’s absolutely been inept with setting up his team with winning calls in the red zone. He’s plagued the team with indecision that leads to at best hurried plays and at worst penalties.
The frustrating thing is that the offense looks so good in fits and spurts. If the Broncos can just get out of their own way, they are going to hang 30 on an opponent in the near future. The offensive line is locked in (even missing a starter). The running backs are both playing really great football. Our receivers even missing two of their best are showing a ton of talent and ability to make plays.
If Hackett can just get the team to dial down the frequency of penalties and get more into the groove of successful play calling, they will be a force to be reckoned with.
I’m really thankful that this team has Russel Wilson taking the snaps for the offense. His touchdown pass to Saubert could have been thrown with a tighter spiral, but you can’t buy better placement on a pass like that. The angle was perfect against near perfect defense by the linebacker. All game long he put the team in position to win. Heck, even his interception was an excellent throw that hit his guy right in the numbers.
This line again didn’t look perfect. They let their QB get sacked 3 times, after all. That being said, they look above average the vast majority of the time. The running success the team is having is a credit to the line and I think they also have better games in front of them.
Melvin Gordon III and Javonte Williams were both forces of nature. I know they both fumbled last week, but I think it is absolute robbery that they didn’t get some carries inside the 10 yard line. One fumble does not make a player bad. The coach needs to get back to having faith in the run game, get the QB under center inside the 10, and let the big nasties go to work up front for these stud running backs.
Courtland Sutton is back, baby! 7 catches for 122 yards and he was in my books the MVP of the offense. I loved hearing him talk about wanting the ball in critical situations:
“I want those opportunities to be able to make those plays. I want to be able to be the guy that he goes to on the big third downs and fourth downs so that we can convert them on the field. I feel like in order to be able to be in that space of an elite wide receiver, you have got to be that guy that can make those big third downs and fourth downs.”
Eric Suabert gets a TON of credit for making a superb touchdown catch with a guy swiping at the ball from inside his arms. It showed great concentration and focus to get those 6 on the board.
Between not having a returner back on a 4th down play, not trusting your field goal kicker at altitude from 53 yards, and more sloppy coverage, this special teams unit is looking quite lackluster to me. We have yet to get any serious traction from our return game either.
Honestly, I want to come back to what I’ve been saying since we hired Coach Hackett: the beginning of the season is going to be rough. I think all these derpy problems we’re seeing are fixable.
But in reality, Hackett needs to show in the next three games that he’s getting it dialed in as far as communication goes. He also needs to get his team to execute better. Both areas are lacking for this team and if the Broncos are to have any real success this season, they need to get this preseason work over with and start playing real regular season NFL football.