It was a rough start for the Denver Broncos but they managed to step up their game and walk away with a 23-13 victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 2. Unfortunately, some disappointing showings from a few players helped keep this game as close as it was.
This was a game that the Broncos were supposed to win handily but the team did struggle a lot. There were matchups in this game where Denver had a significant advantage but still struggled to exploit.
The Broncos' game plan was good for both sides of the ball, but problems executing persisted. This team is about to hit its challenging stretch of the schedule starting in Week 4, so it has to get everything figured out and fixed.
Before I get to the individual player grades, here are a few quick notes about how grading 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 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.
Courtland Sutton | WR | Grade: 89.7
This was the big return game that many were waiting for from Sutton. It was clear going in that he still wasn’t 100% with his knee, or even mentally, but he went out and made big plays for the offense.
With Sutton still working back from injury, this game shows how dangerous he can be when he is 100% physically and mentally. Unfortunately, his blocking was the worst aspect of his game against the Jaguars.
Von Miller | OLB | Grade: 87.4
The Broncos' pass rusher picked up his third sack of the young season and added six total pressures. While the rest of the defense struggled to generate pressure, it wasn’t an issue for Miller. He did a good job defending the run off the right tackle but struggled when he flipped sides.
Josey Jewell | LB | Grade: 85.8
Before he got hurt, Jewell was showing why he is the Broncos' best linebacker. He was flying all over the field, relinquishing two catches for -10 yards, and his run defense was strong. However, Denver will miss him on defense with him out for the rest of the season with a torn pectoral muscle.
Javonte Williams | RB | Grade: 81.6
While Williams ran hard and physically with the ball in his hands, the best aspect of his game was his pass protection. He brought it when needed, with the rest of the blockers not having the best day. Williams has been a boost for the Broncos’ offense beyond just his rushing, where he has 109 yards on 27 rushing attempts.
Dalton Risner | OG | Grade: 29.3
There is a significant disparity with the perception of Risner and his performance in reality. The third-year guard has struggled since arriving as a second-round pick in 2019 and is progressively getting worse. The career-worst showing came against the Jaguars, including a play where he basically didn’t move as he got beat.
Lloyd Cushenberry III | OC | Grade: 30.1
Whenever Cushenberry has to work in a one-on-one matchup, it is a win for the opposing defensive lineman. He struggled a lot against the Jaguars, primarily due to his problems with strength.
When Cushenberry gets to work as part of a double team, he isn’t good but just a little less bad. The former third-round pick is continuing his trend down, which started his final year in college.
Alexander Johnson | LB | Grade: 40.2
Johnson is a fine downhill linebacker when attacking the run or coming on a blitz. The issues with his game come when working backward or in coverage, period. Denver has done a lot to cover for his problems in coverage, but in both games so far, he still manages to be a weak spot.
Kule Fuller | CB | Grade: 54.3
There is something about Fuller and starting games poorly that needs to be fixed. It's good that he has bounced back pretty well in both games but there is some help with that. He dodged a few bullets because on several snaps where he was beaten badly, Trevor Lawrence either threw an off-target pass or he wasn’t targeted.
Other Noteworthy Grades
Justin Strnad | LB | Grade: 59.9
Strnad took the field when Jewell went down, and he wasn’t terrible out there. He was quick with his reactions and clicked to come downhill quickly. There were apparent signs that he has to get better, but it was solid with plenty to hope for in his first NFL action.
Patrick Surtain II | CB | Grade: 57.6
There were some ugly moments early in coverage from Surtain, but he started to bounce back. His issues with change-of-direction were exploited early for multiple catches, but he adjusted to overcome it. It ended up being a solid first career start for the rookie, which also saw him get his first career interception.
Bobby Massie | OT | Grade: 43.4
The right tackle for the Broncos had a rough matchup against the Jaguars pass rushers, though they did make life a little easier by moving Josh Allen around. Massie went against Dawuane Smoot for most of the game, and the Jaguars still got pressure. While he had some excellent run blocks, it was a rough game from Massie overall.
Netane Muti | OG | Grade: 39.0
With Graham Glasgow out, Muti got another chance to start at right guard, and it was not the best showing. Muti did have some bright moments as a run defender, but he continues to be an issue in pass protection. His lack of length proved on multiple occasions to be a detriment for the Broncos’ offense.
MVP of the Game: Check the Video Above
Follow Erick on Twitter @ErickTrickel.
Subscribe to Mile High Huddle on YouTube for daily Broncos live-stream podcasts!