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Broncos vs Commanders: The No Bull Review

The Broncos lost another close game due largely to their defense crumbling when faced with adversity. Here are my thoughts, opinions, and analysis on the 2nd week in a row of losing to kick off the Sean Payton era in Broncos Country.

NFL: Washington Commanders at Denver Broncos Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

For the second week in a row, the Denver Broncos lost a close game to an opponent that they had a great chance to beat. For a fan base of a franchise that has seen these kinds of losses pile up for literal years, this one had fans leaving early in droves even with the game still up for grabs.

We’re seeing that Sean Payton has his work cut out for him and this roster still doesn’t know what to do to win a close game.

The shame is that they had a potential blow-out win ready to go in the first half with a 21-3 lead built.

Then we all watched one turnover lead to the frail psyche of these players crumbling to pieces as momentum completely flipped and the Broncos never got back to serious fighting until the end of the 4th quarter.

That last statement may be a tough pill to swallow for some, but I’m a firm believer in calling it as I see it and that’s the way every Broncos fan I talked to in the past two days saw it as well.

I’m still hopeful that we’ll see some winning ways from this team this season at some point, but it is starting to turn into that jaded, distant kind of hope that Broncos Country has become all too familiar with.

Offense

On the bright side, this offense put up over 30 points. That’s a frigging miracle for this Broncos team if you look back at the past few years. The offense seems to be starting to find its way and getting back to the point where they can do some serious damage on the field of play by utilizing the excellent play designs of Payton paired with Russell Wilson’s magic.

If I have any critique on offense, it is that the Broncos didn’t sustain their early game run efficiency. They still ran the ball as the game wore on, but they didn’t open up the same running lanes that we saw early. I’m not quite sure if that was due to adjustments by the Washington Commanders or just the line’s blocking falling off. Either way, the offense needs to grow in confidence in their run game and use it throughout the whole game to keep their opponents guessing.

Quarterbacks

NFL: Washington Commanders at Denver Broncos Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Russell Wilson throws such a nice deep ball. We got to see it twice in the first half with big-time dimes to Marvin Mims, Jr. Through two weeks we’re seeing a rejuvenated Wilson like we all hoped for. He’s looking dangerous again as a quarterback.

One of the only criticisms I can say that I saw a few times in this game was him not taking an easy run when it was in front of him. I know he’s getting older and I know his arm is still a big weapon. That being said when the defense bails out to play zone and you can get an easy 10 yards, take it. It will make them have to play tighter which will open back up those big passes or allow you to sustain drives. Either way, that’s a win for the Broncos.

Line

Mike McGlinchey consistently sucked eggs in this game. I would not want to be him reviewing the film from this game. He looked like any given plug-in right tackle we’ve seen in the past 5 years playing for the Broncos which is to say he was mostly plain bad.

Speaking of recent free agent signings, Ben Powers also had a rough game up front. Yes, the Commanders’ front is really strong and talented. You still have to figure out a way to slow them down, though.

Running Backs

The longer the game went, the less effective Javonte Williams was. He looked superb early with big runs off of superb blocking for chunk yardage. I think it would do Payton well to look at a more regular rotation instead of trying to keep Williams out there as much as possible.

It was awesome to see young Jaleel McLaughlin get his first NFL TD. I sure wish we would have gotten some more snaps, though.

Receivers

NFL: Washington Commanders at Denver Broncos Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Marvin Mims, Jr. sure does look like a dynamic weapon for this offense. He’s got blazing speed that will be a serious problem for opponents to deal with each week. This talented young man had 2 catches for over 100 yards and a TD on the day. If we aren’t throwing his way deep 2 times each week, we’re doing something wrong.

Brandon Johnson is turning into quite the option at #3 WR. He’s sneaky good and able to make teams pay for forgetting that he’s got sneaky good speed and size at WR. He gave the Broncos two easy TDs which is exactly what you want to see in the red zone when your opponent focuses their attention on your primary receiving targets.

Defense

My worry heading into this season was the defense taking a big step back with Vance Joseph getting the job as Defensive Coordinator for the Broncos.

Man, I sometimes really hate it when I’m right.

This defense looked as close to clueless as I’ve seen from a Broncos defense in the past handful of years. They were constantly taking awful angles at plays. It cost them chunks of yardage time and time again from a team led by a rookie QB.

The run defense crumbled as well as the already suspect pass defense as the game wore on with the Broncos giving up 5.3 ypc to the Commanders.

Sam Howell was a better quarterback than Russell Wilson in a game where Wilson threw 3 TDs. Let that sink in for a minute or two.

Front 7

NFL: Preseason-Denver Broncos at San Francisco 49ers Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Jonathan Cooper made a superb strip sack on 3rd down in the 3rd quarter to force one of the dumbest field goal attempts I’ve seen that missed. He showed serious edge speed looping around to swipe out the ball. He had another sack later in the game, a TFL, and a QH as he was a serious pressure player at edge for the Broncos.

Matt Henningson may be a rotational player for this front, but on 18 snaps he batted down two passes and was in on a couple off tackles. He shows superb effort up front and showed some nifty reflexes in denying passes thrown over him.

Randy Gregory had a fine game as well with a sack, 2 TFLs, a QH, and 1 pass defense. It is good to see some of our front stepping up the pressure when compared to last week.

Nick Bonitto also chipped in a sack, 2 TFLs, and 2 QHs.

If the pass defense could just hold up their end of the bargain, this defense would be far more successful.

Secondary

Washington Commanders v Denver Broncos Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images

The one guy deserving of any praise in the secondary is Justin Simmons. He had some bad moments in the game, but mostly he was the only player in the secondary who appeared to understand where to be in order to make a tackle (he led the team in tackles which is NOT what you want from a free safety).

Kareem Jackson straight-up tried to kill a player. I’m glad he got ejected. I hope he gets fined as much as the NFL can fine a player for such a dirty hit. Hell, suspend him for a few games. There’s no room in this game for that kind of play.

Damarri Mathis once again shows the depth of his ineptitude by giving up a huge TD pass over the middle by giving a guy running post multiple steps of space. I don’t know how you play football at the professional level constantly expecting someone else to do something for you like I saw from this player over and over again. It was maddening to watch. I know the Broncos are light at cornerback, but I’d literally put any guy on the depth chart out there over Mathis. He’s the #1 reason we lost 2 games so far this season.

Special Teams

We got a really nice return out of Mims in the punt game. Other than that, I’d like to see Wil Lutz kick a more recoverable onside kick (though to be fair to him it looked like a really unlucky bounce more than anything he could control).

Final Thoughts

The 2-point conversion play at the end of the game was a pass interference. It was blatant and it was trash that the referees didn’t throw the flag. I was also terrible that the booth did not choose to review the play. Sure, the Broncos played bad football and earned that L. That doesn’t change that you let the Commanders win a game with a dirty play.