Congratulations, Broncos Country, your 2022 Denver Broncos are tied for first in the AFC West after three weeks with a 2-1 record.
So why isn’t anyone celebrating?
It’s simple. The two victories have essentially come solely on the back of the Broncos’ defense, led by the man who may just be establishing himself as one of the best defensive coordinators in football, Ejiro Evero. Say what you will about Nathaniel Hackett, but he hired himself one heck of a defensive minded coach.
Nay, there is little celebration around Broncos Country due to the fact that the much-hyped offense has been about as reliable as an M. Night Shymalan movie post-Sixth Sense. We keep hoping for the magic, and we keep getting fed The Lady in the Water.
Yet, for the umpteenth time, lack of ability is not what the issue is with this offense. They just have not been on the same page for three straight weeks.
Nathaniel Hackett’s unconventional play calling, Russell Wilson’s first year as Denver’s starting QB, and the fact no first-string offensive skill players played together in the preseason has led to an offense that’s about as fun to watch as the last season of Game of Thrones.
Still, though, the Broncos are close to clicking on offense. Wilson seems adamant that the group will get there sooner than later.
Yet, at some point, the “just give us a little more time” talking point expires. At some point, it’s time to walk the walk.
Here’s something, though, that may indicate the team is beginning to walk that walk.
The San Francisco 49ers are not on the same (sub)level as the Seattle Seahawks and Houston Texans. No, this is a well-coached team with guys who have bought into a certain system. This is a team that was a field goal away from playing in the 2022 Super Bowl.
This was a 49ers team, which includes one of the most dominant pass rushers in the game today in Nick Bosa, has finished top-5 in total defense the past 4 years. They took the Broncos’ Week 1 opponent last week and wiped the floor with them.
So yes, the Broncos’ offense once again struggled, but it didn’t struggle against a bottom-tier wannabe. It struggled against a well-coached contender who has been a defensive force for several years. Maybe it’s warranted to give them the benefit of the doubt.
There were a completely unacceptable amount of three-and-outs, dropped passes, and missed receivers, so there is still much work to be done.
There were also only 5 penalties, and halle-freaking-leujah, the offense actually scored in the Red Zone. And guess what? When the game was on the line, Wilson stepped up and made plays. Maybe he’s lost a step in terms of mobility, but he’s still a gamer, he can still sling it, and he’s still clutch.
The Broncos hit the road next week as they take on the Las Vegas Raiders and the coach most likely to have been wedgied in high school, Josh McDaniels. The silver and black are 0-3 to start the season, so this should be another opportunity for the Broncos’ offense to take the next step.
It’s only Week 3, but the Broncos, thanks to the defense, are very much in the postseason hunt, and had it not been for a fluky week 1, would be 1 of 3 undefeated teams.
Luck runs out, though. The defense can only hold the line for so long before the offense needs to do its part more frequently.
It’s true the Broncos’ offense is close to getting it. The near misses at the goal line, the self-inflicted penalties, and the miscues on offense, are all fixable.
Yet, the ‘we’re so close’ card has been played three straight weeks. Eventually, it will be time to put up or shut up.
The team has two winnable games coming up with the Raiders and Colts (who somehow beat the Chiefs), but eventually, sub-17 point offensive performances will not be enough.
According to the record, the Broncos are early contenders for the postseason. If the offense doesn’t start to step up in the coming weeks, though, that label will turn to pretenders rather quickly.