Coming off their bye week, many doubted the Denver Broncos' ability to beat the Los Angeles Chargers. While Denver matched up favorably against L.A., the team hadn't shown the ability to refrain from shooting itself in the foot.
There were a few close calls but the Broncos executed and made up for any self-inflicted wounds. This was a great game in all phases for the Broncos, with everyone showing up to play.
Being down to backups at four-of-five offensive line spots, the Broncos still asserted the run successfully and shut down the Chargers offense. It was a great game for the majority of players, and their grades reflect that.
As always, each player starts with an average grade of 50.0, and with each positive play, his grade goes up. With each bad play, it drops.
Just how much a player's grade fluctuates depends on his overall impact on the snap. After all, missing a block away from the play isn’t as costly as the lead blocker completely whiffing and letting the run get stopped for a loss.
For the game's MVP, check out the video above.
Nate Hairston | CB | Grade: 88.5
Hairston was the most underrated defender in the game against the Chargers. He stuck with his man in coverage and even had a couple of big plays. In addition, his run defense was strong and helped the Broncos contain Austin Ekeler from getting to the outside.
Dre'Mont Jones | IDL | Grade: 87.7
While he isn't getting many sacks, Jones has been a force on the Broncos' defensive line this year. He ranks No. 10 overall in total pressures, sixth in pass rush win rate, and eighth in pass-rush productivity. His run defense has been strong as well, and he is disrupting plays despite being double-teamed frequently.
Javonte Williams | RB | Grade: 84.2
With Melvin Gordon getting hurt early and being put on a snap count, Denver turned to its rookie running back to carry the load, and he answered the call. Williams has been more consistent with his running than he was a few weeks ago, where he had the second-highest rate of carries for no gain or a loss juxtaposed with leading the NFL in runs over 10yards. Against the Chargers, he also showed up in a big way as a receiver and continues to be impressive as a blocker.
Melvin Gordon | RB | Grade: 82.8
Even though he got hurt early, Gordon kept playing and had some of the best runs for the Broncos on the day. There is a bad habit in his career of being a late-season riser, as he was last season. So rotating Gordon and Williams can kill defenses as long as they can hold onto the ball.
Mike Purcell | NT | Grade: 27.4
Missed tackles continue to plague Mike Purcell despite getting himself into a position to make a big play. If he could cut back on those, he would be getting a lot more attention for his disruption against the run game. Denver managed to cover for his missed tackles this time, but they have had their issues doing so this season.
Lloyd Cushenberry III | OC | Grade: 39.9
The second-year center has continued to be inconsistent in the middle of the Broncos offensive line. Against the Chargers, both of Denver's guards helped cover for his issues in the run game. Denver has to see Cushenberry get stronger and find a way to manage his one-on-one blocking situations more frequently.
Quinn Meinerz | OG | Grade: 42.6
This was the worst game from Meinerz this season, which speaks to how great he has played so far. The Chargers attacked his inexperience in pass protection and managed to get some internal pressure through him. Meinerz still had a good game as a run blocker, though he got tossed around a few runs and dealt with issues from the center.
Malik Reed | OLB | Grade: 43.1
While Reed did well to generate pressure consistently against the Chargers, they targeted him in the run game. Thankfully for the Broncos, their linebackers and safeties helped ease the problems created with Reed's poor run defense. There are no qualms with his ability to be a depth rusher, but he continues to show issues that should keep him from being a starter when injuries are not a factor.
Other Noteworthy Grades
Bradley Chubb | OLB | Grade: 64.8
It was his first game back, and there was some rust with Chubb. However, he still had an impact in multiple plays, including a couple of pressures, and it was noticeable when he was on the field over Malik Reed against the run. The most notable play with Chubb was pressure by a defensive lineman where Chubb was delayed on his rush, and it held the guard in place, allowing the defensive lineman an easy path to pressure the quarterback.
Quinn Bailey | OT | Grade: 67.3
Was it perfect from the fifth-string tackle called up from the practice squad? No, but he put together an impressive showing and held his own on multiple occasions against Joey Bosa, one of the best pass rushers in the NFL. Bailey's technique is improved from his rookie season, and he has been coming along as a potential backup for the Broncos going forward.
Cameron Fleming | OT | Grade: 79.9
While an early holding call set the Broncos back, Fleming quickly turned it around and put together a strong showing. He sealed the edge on multiple runs and kept the Chargers pass rushers from applying much pressure through him. It was great to see him bounce back after a rough game against the Eagles before the bye week.
Baron Browning | LB | Grade: 79.9
Browning was flying all over the field for Denver, showing off his potential to be a playmaker from the linebacker position. His athleticism is a significant factor for how great he has been playing, and if he keeps developing at the rate he has, he could emerge as a star by the middle of next season. He has shown the ability to create problems in all three aspects of defense.
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