That was … uh, quite the display between the Denver Broncos and New York Jets to kick off Week 4. I can’t look myself in the monitor and say it was a great game, but the Thursday night affair undeniably was entertaining, far exceeding the preseason-level hype it had received.
And, most importantly, the Broncos finally landed on the right side of the win column — and may have cost Adam Gase his job as an added bonus — with their 37-28 conquest at fan-less MetLife Stadium.
It wasn’t a masterclass in football. Nothing close. It was a sometimes brutal blow-for-blow of two injury-ravaged franchises that have fallen well off the NFL relevancy map.
But a win is a win is a win in this business, and 1-3 looks a helluva lot better than 0-4.
So let’s (mostly) enjoy ourselves this time around.
Brett Rypien | QB: The man of the hour. He was far from flawless. Far from it. But he showed extreme poise and pocket composure, as well as his trademark accuracy, in delivering Denver its first victory of 2020, in his first career start. You’d never know Mark Rypien’s nephew went undrafted. Rypien, who outplayed first-round counterpart Sam Darnold, will always be limited by his water-pistol arm strength, but he absolutely boasts the bona fides to hang around as a high-end QB2. He’s earned the start at New England.
Demar Dotson | RT: The co-offensive MVP of the night. It’s no coincidence that the Broncos hung 37 on the scoreboard, that they allowed zero sacks on Rypien, that they emerged the victors, after playing an actual right tackle. Wild concept. Dotson’s run-blocking needs work, but his pass-pro was nearly perfect. What’s depressing: Dotson might still be parked on the bench if not for Elijah Wilkinson’s injury. And more depressing: Drew Lock likely would be under center against the Jets if Dotson started from Week 1.
Bradley Chubb | OLB: He’s baaaack. Following an injury-ruined 2019 campaign and slow start this year, Chubb appears close to 100%. He lived in the backfield, tallying five QB hits and 2.5 sacks to go along with 2.5 tackles-for-loss and three solo stops. Much of Chubb’s tentativeness from Weeks 1 and 2 dissipated as he returns to prior form. You hold your breath every time he’s hit, but Chubb, based on this performance, should be able to notch double-digit sacks by year’s end.
Tim Patrick | WR: How can anyone not love this dude? He’s a big, physical possession wideout with sure hands who fights for each and every inch. I wish the Broncos had 10 more Patricks (and zero more DaeSean Hamiltons; more on him later). Patrick led all receivers with six catches on seven targets for 113 yards and what would be the game-winning touchdown. There’s a reason why many refer to Patrick as Courtland Sutton Lite.
Josey Jewell and Alexander Johnson | ILB: Double-whammy! Jewell turned in his best effort as a pro, totaling 10 tackles (eight solo), 2.5 TFLs, two sacks, two QB hits, and one pass breakup. He played out of his mind, frankly. Johnson, meanwhile, was a heat-seeking missile to the ball (three solo tackles, one TFL, sack and QB hit), though he missed a capital-H Huge first-quarter sack on Darnold. Overall, the Broncos’ linebacker corps was great, and it seems as if they rallied around Chubb’s “remember me?” impact.
De'Vante Bausby | CB: Why, why, why was he on the bench? Why was he ever on the practice squad? Why did they risk losing him earlier this offseason? If the Broncos weren’t believers in Bausby, they better be now. Three pass deflections, including a crucial fourth-quarter breakup. He’s the CB1 until AJ Bouye (IR, shoulder) returns.
Melvin Gordon | RB: Yes, his stats were inflated by a 43-yard scoring run during which the Jets were caught sleeping. But Gordon hit paydirt twice, averaged 4.7 yards per carry, and recorded his first 100-yard contest as a Bronco. Crow-eating admission: he deserves a spot amongst the Good.
DaeSean Hamilton | WR: I said it when he was drafted, I said it last year, and I’ll say it again: Hamilton is 'Just Another Guy'. He isn’t the biggest, he isn’t the fastest, he isn’t the strongest, and he doesn’t give maximum effort on every down. For proof, look no further than Rypien’s missed deep ball. Hamilton didn’t speed up. He didn’t dive. He didn’t really try. The gap separating him and Patrick is staggering.
Graham Glasgow | RG: The $44 million guard was ineffectual for another week, both in run- and pass-blocking, often gaining zero push in the trenches. It’s crazy to think rookie center Lloyd Cushenberry — not Glasgow or LG Dalton Risner — is the Broncos’ best interior offensive lineman.
Nick Vannett | TE: Continuing to befuddle those who questioned his signing, Vannett was called for a penalty and contributed seven yards on one catch. Hey, at least he stayed on his two feet. Vannett is so bad, he almost makes me miss Jeff Heuerman. Almost.
Essang Bassey | CB: Bassey, an undrafted rookie, struggled against the Jets’ sixth-string receiving weapons. No denying that. But it calls back to Bausby’s limited action and why in the hell he went this long without getting significant snaps. Coaching, coaching, coaching.
Justin Simmons and Kareem Jackson | S: A few words come to mind watching that unforgivable Darnold touchdown scamper. Disgraceful. Embarrassing. Disgusting. It was lose-your-job bad, and these are the primary culprits (along with Johnson). Simmons and Jackson had zero interest in tackling a 6-foot-3 pocket passer playing on the worst team in football. It was one of the worst defensive sequences I have ever seen. And it’s especially disappointing from Simmons, who wants to become the league’s highest-paid safety. When, in reality, through four games, he’s closer to the league’s worst.