The Denver Broncos continue to gain altitude in the early portion of the season with a decisive 23-13 victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars. It’s been a long time since the Broncos have won consecutive road games.
Although they have not competed against top NFL teams yet, fans should feel good about the trajectory of the Broncos. During Sunday’s victory over the Jaguars, the group demonstrated positive offensive and defensive trends to build upon.
Despite a disastrous special teams play late in the game, important work remains for both the coaches and players in order to stack more wins. Let's break down the good, bad, and the ugly.
Teddy Bridgewater | QB
'Steady Teddy' is exceeding everyone’s expectations over the last two games. Bridgewater threw 26-of-34 for 328 yards and two touchdowns with zero interceptions. Broncos fans are beginning to grab their plastic cups so they can start sipping the Bridgewater Kool-Aid.
The veteran QB is earning Broncos Country's trust by being accurate with the football, taking what the defense gives him, and continuing to maximize the talent of his receivers. Against the winless Jaguars, he added to his passing repertoire by throwing deep shots to wide receiver Courtland Sutton.
Sutton posted his career-high game with nine receptions for 159 yards. The Bridgewater-Sutton connection looks like it can blossom into one that is difficult for opposing defenses to contain.
Javonte Williams | RB
The rookie ran with ferocity and punished defenders attempting to tackle him. Williams gave maximum effort every carry, running for 64 yards, averaging 4.9 yards a carry.
Sharing carries with starter Melvin Gordon kept both backs fresh. Over time, look for Williams to earn likely the majority of carries. He was drafted to be the long-term solution at running back.
The Broncos' defense imposed their will throughout the Week 2 matchup, holding the Jaguars to 189 total yards, with the first overall pick Trevor Lawrence throwing an anemic 118 yards. All levels of the Broncos' defense contributed with the defensive line clogging the running game.
Von Miller had a sack for the second consecutive game and Josey Jewell played the best ball of his career prior to a shoulder injury. The biggest contributions of the game came from the secondary, however.
The moment was not too big for rookie cornerback Patrick Surtain II, who had the first start of his career and picked off a Lawrence pass. Not to be outdone, strong safety Kareen Jackson played stellar run defense and contributed by adding an additional interception. It’s good to see the highest-paid secondary in the NFL creating turnovers.
Despite learning from their first game against the New York Giants, the start to Sunday’s games was lethargic. The vaunted Broncos' defense allowed the Jaguars to control the clock early on and score on their opening possession.
While the Broncos can overcome a sluggish start against opponents like the Giants or Jaguars, such failures to launch early against teams like Baltimore or Kansas City will lead to disaster.
Losing at the Catch Point
Overall, the Broncos' receiving corps played an effective game. However, they missed opportunities to win 'jump ball 'opportunities.
As the defensive coordinators prioritize stopping the run game on early downs, the Broncos have to take advantage of one-on-one matchups with their receivers. Bridgewater will need to continue to threaten the entire field with deep throws to his wide receivers and the unit will need to step it up.
Let’s give GM George Paton credit, the Broncos began the season with a roster replete with talent and depth. After two games, the team's talent is being whittled away due to injuries, as is the case around the league.
Last week, wide receiver Jerry Jeudy and cornerback Ronald Darby were placed on injured reserve and starting guard Graham Glasgow is out due to a heart irregularity. Against the Jaguars, two more defensive starters went down in outside linebacker Bradly Chubb and Jewell. Sound the alarm.
Both the kicking and punt return units left nothing to be proud of. With the Broncos allowing a kickoff return for a touchdown, and a dismal performance against the Giants, a watchful eye will need to be kept on special teams over the coming weeks.
If the Broncos take a lesson-learned approach and get off to a fast start against the New York Jets this week, they should win handily. The Broncos need to bank as many victories as possible prior to battling through the upcoming rough part of the schedule.
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