The Denver Broncos' 27-13 victory over the New York Giants gifted Vic Fangio the first September win of his head-coaching career. It was a good showing by the Broncos as a whole, but there were some issues on an individual level.
Understanding the nuance of which players shines and which struggled is why I'm back to hand out my player grades.
How it works: Each player starts with a 50.0 grade, which is average, and with each positive play, their grade goes up. With each bad play, it drops.
Just how much a player's grade fluctuates depends on his overall impact of 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.
Without further ado.
Teddy Bridgewater | QB | Grade: 90.3
Bridgewater made a statement with the way he played in his debut performance as the starter. Even when the pressure came, he remained calm, cool, collected in the pocket, and played mistake-free football. It wasn’t perfect, and there were a couple of off-target throws, but it was more than good enough and shows the potential this offense can have.
Von Miller | OLB | Grade: 89.9
There is no question: Miller is back. That can't be denied after the game he had in the opener. He was great out there as a pass rusher and still outstanding as a run defender. The Giants' offensive line was a concern heading into the game, and Miller took advantage of him.
Jerry Jeudy | WR | Grade: 85.7
All the hype about Jeudy was answered in this game before he left with a high ankle sprain that will cause him to miss time. His route running made things difficult for the Giants’ secondary and saw him get open quite often. In addition, the chemistry between Jeudy and Bridgewater was evident from the start after hearing about it during training camp.
Bryce Callahan | CB | Grade: 82.1
Last season, Callahan was playing at an All-Pro level before he got hurt. This year, he has picked up right where he left off. While he did allow some late catches on the final drive, his coverage was spot on for the rest of the game.
Shelby Harris | DL | Grade: 80.5
While it was a quiet day in the stat sheet for Harris, he was solid, reliable, and disciplined. He kept contain for cut-back lanes and clogged the middle when needed. There were multiple good pressures up the middle, and he came close to getting another Harris special batted pass.
Eric Saubert | TE | Grade: 76.6
There was a bad drop from Saubert, which hurt his grade, but he more than made up for it with his blocking. He was the best blocking tight end for the Broncos and had a massive part in Melvin Gordon's 70-yard touchdown run to clear the hole. Denver needed improvement from its blocking tight ends, and Saubert has brought that one game in.
Patrick Surtain II | CB | Grade: 31.6
This was a rookie showing that ended up seeing the first-rounder get benched. Surtain allowed a touchdown pass where he was too far off the line and got beat playing trail technique on a crosser before missing the tackle. Ed Donatell and Christian Parker need to put this play on repeat in the film room and coach him to grow from this.
Dalton Risner | LG | Grade: 39.4
The Giants boast two great interior defensive linemen, and they gave all three of the Broncos' interior offensive linemen problems. Risner was the worst one of the bunch and was consistently put on skates or could not generate any push. While he did have some wins, they were not as often or as big as the other two on the interior.
Kyle Fuller | CB | Grade: 42.8
There was a great pass breakup from Fuller, that should’ve been an interception, and some other outstanding plays. The problem is, he was picked on with consistency by the Giants, especially when they wanted to push the ball some. Denver needs Fuller to be more consistent with his coverage and cut down the big mistakes in this game.
Jonathon Cooper | OLB | Grade: 43.1
When Cooper took the field, there was an apparent decline in the overall play. He struggled to get pressure but did alright when holding up against the run. However, he learned a clear lesson: watch out for chip blocks after a Giants' running back leveled him off a chip.
Lloyd Cushenberry III | C | Grade: 45.5
It was a disaster when Cushenberry was left in a one-on-one situation against the Giants’ defensive line. Thankfully, that didn’t happen often and more often than not, he was helping on double teams. But, one thing is clear, Cushenberry has to get stronger for the NFL because he cannot handle power from defensive linemen.
Graham Glasgow | RG | Grade: 47.9
Dexter Lawrence made life difficult for Glasgow in pass protection and the running game. Glasgow had his fair share of wins, but there was no question he was outmuscled in this matchup. However, a few redeeming plays saw Glasgow use Lawrence’s momentum to his advantage, including the long touchdown run. Considering the heart issues Glasgow dealt with in-game, perhaps this grade should be viewed through a different lens.
Other Noteworthy Grades
Josey Jewell | ILB | Grade: 75.0
Jewell is, without a doubt, the most underrated defender on the Broncos’ defense, and he showed why in this game. With him being all over the field and trusted for so much, it is obvious why he stayed out there in dime packages when Alexander Johnson was pulled out. Jewell's worst play was when he got matched up against Sterling Shephard in the slot, but that was still a decent play by Jewell.
Garett Bolles | LT | Grade: 60.8
This was a solid game from Bolles overall, but there were some issues, particularly his run blocking. In addition, his positioning when driving needs to improve to help him generate more push on the outside rushes. Part of the problem Bolles was dealing with in this game were the issues from the interior offensive line cascading towards him.
Malik Reed | OLB | Grade: 54.2
Giants' left tackle Andrew Thomas had a rough rookie year and an even worse preseason, which was an excellent opportunity for the Broncos. Yet, Reed struggled against Thomas and was unable to exploit the advantage consistently. So it wasn’t all bad from Reed, but a disappointing showing nonetheless.
Ronald Darby | CB | Grade: 52.0
While Darby made multiple great plays, he also allowed numerous big plays. The Giants were able to attack him consistently in coverage and do so with success. Darby had good coverage on some of those catches he allowed and was just beaten by the throw, but in some of them, he got shaken off by the receiver.
Albert Okwuegbunam | TE | Grade: 51.4
There were some good plays later, but his fumble was costly and showed off poor situational awareness. With where he positioned the football to move upfield, Okwuegbunam asked for it to be knocked out. Improving his ball-carrying as well as his blocking could turn him into a really good player.
Noah Fant | TE | Grade: 49.3
Fant had two separate games against the Giants, one as a receiver and one as a blocker. He killed it as a receiver showing his ability to find a soft spot in coverages and sit, but his run blocking was atrocious and caused many problems for the Broncos' running game. Just as a receiver, his grade would be 83.8, but just looking at run blocking, it would be 21.3.
Make sure you watch the video above for this week’s MVP!
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