The irony of this winners/losers post for the Denver Broncos 31-28 comeback win over the Chicago Bears is that the section for losers was a lot longer before the comeback began and then with the euphoria of the win I struggled to find any to put in there. The reason why is because it took a total team effort to rally with 24 unanswered points to secure the win. All three phases and good coaching were needed.
It’s the kind of win that a team could build on, but it didn’t come without concerns. There are things the Broncos need to continue working on and need to figure out before they face another team like the Miami Dolphins. They have a long way to go, but this was certainly a quality win worthy of celebrating.
We keep saying this, but Russell Wilson hasn’t been the problem in 2023. In this game, he was as efficient as a quarterback could be finishing 21/28 for 223 yards with three touchdowns and zero turnovers. He was efficient and effective, especially during the team’s second half rally.
Say what you will about Wilson, but he is earning his game checks in 2023.
Marvin Mims Jr.
All Marvin Mims Jr. does is make big plays. He was held in check all game and even muffed a kickoff due to being blinded by the sun. But with the game tied late in the fourth quarter, he broke free deep for a 48-yard reception that would ultimately set the Broncos up for the game-winning field goal.
Things looked bleak in the first half when running back Javonte Williams was knocked out of the game with a hip injury, but that only gave us our first look at Jaleel McLaughlin being featured in the run game. He would out-touch Samaje Perine in the second half gathering in 7 carries for 72 yards for a 10.3 yard per carry average. He also added 3 catches for 32 yards and this 18-yard touchdown.
Jaleel McLaughlin scores his second touchdown of the year, this time off a screen pass from QB Russell Wilson pic.twitter.com/A7hVnefSyp— MileHighReport (@MileHighReport) October 1, 2023
McLaughlin is here to stay and hopefully we see more of him in the coming weeks.
Vance Joseph needed that second half performance. The defense still gave up yards, but also began getting sacks and turnovers. Both turnovers were decisive game-changing plays. The first being a strip-sack on Justin Fields that was returned for a touchdown and the second a game-sealing interception.
Joseph may not be the guy Denver needs to run this defense, but that second half performance certainly saved his job for another week.
Nik Bonitto & Jonathan Cooper
Speaking of strip-sacks, these two turned the tide of the game for good. Nik Bonitto and Jonathan Cooper were both terrorizing the offensive line in this game. Bonitto had 2.5 sacks and Cooper one, but it was this play where they came together to put a nail in the coffin on the Bears hopes of keeping a lead.
Bonitto stormed off the edge to knock the ball free from Fields’ hands and Cooper scooped and scored from there to tie the game up in the fourth quarter. Denver seems to have found themselves two solid, young edge rushers.
1st Half Defense
Whew, there was a halftime graphic that sent me catatonic about this team and it really felt like we were nearing another ‘rock bottom’ for this franchise. In the previous six quarters, the Broncos had given up 91 points and 991 yards of total offense. In six quarters. Again... whew!
I still have a lot of concerns about the defense and I am doubtful we just saw a turnaround from that unit. Joseph needs to get away from whatever he was doing and try to get something completely different going or who knows what we might see in two weeks in Kansas City.
McLaughlin out-touched Samaje Perine in the second half and it looked like Williams being out of the game did nothing to increase Perine’s workload in this game. It would appear his role is locked in regardless of whether or not Williams is in the game. This could point towards a lot more usage and snaps coming McLaughlin’s way.
Once again, the Broncos are among the leaders in penalties through four games. It was especially brutal today as the offensive line was charged with five false starts in the game. The pre-snap stuff is just the worst kind of penalty too.
#Broncos false starts today:— Parker Gabriel (@ParkerJGabriel) October 1, 2023
Veteran group putting on a pre-snap how-not-to clinic.
Denver’s offense hasn’t been the problem, but they have had more than enough drives killed by really dumb pre-snap penalties to start the season. This will come back to burn them again if they don’t get these issues cleaned up.
How would you grade the Broncos performance against the Bears in Week 4?
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