For the first time in nearly two years, the Denver Broncos played a professional football game in front of an electric and caffeinated sold-out crowd at Empower Field at Mile High. On Sunday, the Broncos defeated the New York Jets, getting out to a 3-0 start and sending the opponent home still winless on the season.
The Jets are led by a first-year head coach in Robert Saleh and greenhorn rookie quarterback in Zach Wilson, hoping to redirect the franchise from its losing ways.
Sunday’s game resulted in a 26-0 shutout for the undefeated Broncos, who've finally given the fans something to be excited about. Gone are the days of losing football..
With that said, it’s time to review Sunday's key takeaways from the Broncos' third win of the season.
Rushing Attack Productive if Not Exciting
As I mentioned in my keys to victory article, Broncos' rookie RB Javonte Williams was a featured weapon in OC Pat Shurmur’s ground-and-pound attack against the Jets. It may have taken a while for the North Carolina back to see the end zone, but that happened at home in front of Broncos Country.
The second-rounder nicknamed ‘Pookie’ charged into the end zone early in the first quarter after a pitch to the right from QB Teddy Bridgewater that went for a one-yard touchdown in the books. Williams logged a total of 29 yards off 12 attempts and notched his a professional in the NFL.
The rookie was also utilized in the passing game and was able to grab significant yards after the catch, logging multiple first downs on the ground and through the air. Williams' counterpart (and Broncos' starting RB) Melvin Gordon allowed the rookie to be the nice changeup complementing the veteran’s speed and burst.
There’s no doubt the Broncos' interior O-line brought the aggressiveness and energy to physically plow the way for the Gordon-Williams one-two punch. Gordon concluded the day with 18 rushes for 61 yards and a touchdown.
When Broncos' GM George Paton traded up for Williams, the optics suggested he'd get plenty of action. But Week 3's performance against the Jets proved that the future is clearly invested in the rookie. While Williams may not have the speed of an Alvin Kamura, he’s a throwback of old as Denver tries to reinvent its offense to complement the team's dynamic receiving corps.
It's understandable for the excited fans of Broncos Country to sometimes be hesitant towards showing excitement when running backs are gaining 3-to-5 yards per carry but instead of being frustrated on the totality of the play, try to understand the chess aspect of the game plan. By chipping away at the defense, it's just a matter of time before Gordon rips off a home-run or Williams bounces a 20-to-30-yarder.
By being consistent running the ball, the Broncos' offense has been effective on third-down conversions with veteran Bridgewater at the helm.
Miller Proving Just how Valuable he is to Broncos
Von Miller has had a red-hot start to the 2021 season. Against the Jets, Von logged his fourth sack of the season in the first half in front of an electric crowd. While the rest of Broncos Country rejoiced for the career resurgence that has been a couple of years in the making for Miller, there are whispers about his future in Denver.
The man is averaging at least one sack per game at his current rate and film study reveals a technically sounds defender against the run on the perimeter. Miller finished the day with one tackle and two assists in addition to that sack.
So, what does this mean for Miller's future in the Orange and Blue?
Simply put, every sack and tackle Miller accumulates adds to his value on his next contract. Paton will soon be forced with the decision of offering a contract extension to the aging pass rusher or allow him to explore greener pastures.
While it's hard to imagine No. 58 suiting up for another franchise, the question as to whether or not Miller deserves another contract has been continually debated among fans.
If Paton offers Miller an extension this early in the season, would that be in the team’s best interest for the future of the franchise?
For crying out loud, the Broncos are undefeated and will host Lamar Jackson and the Baltimore Ravens at home next Sunday. If we’re being honest, Miller has been a huge part of Denver's early success.
From buying into Vic Fangio’s message that winning is contagious, to supporting Bridgewater’s message to play for one another and win games, make no mistake — Miller delivers and carries the team’s morale.
If Von continues to nab sacks, the Broncos will need to seriously reconsider an extension as he's proving that age hasn’t slowed him down when it comes to hitting the opposing QB. If Denver has any chance at success against Baltimore, Miller will need to contain and smother the Ravens' Pro Bowl quarterback with a barrage of hits, sacks, and knockdowns.
Fangio Deserves Credit for 3-0 Start
As hard as I’ve been on Fangio the past couple of years, it’s time to give credit where it's due. After all, the man is 3-0 for the first time in his tenure as Broncos head coach after leading decisive victories against the New York Giants, Jacksonville Jaguars, and Jets.
Sure, Fangio's not the sole reason for the team’s success but the fact of the matter is, the battle-worn coach has delegated some responsibility to the rest of his staff.
Yes, you read that right.
Fangio has delegated some duties despite refusing to relinquish defensive play-calling to DC Ed Donatell. The third-year head coach was put in the position of deciding who the starting quarterback would be this summer.
The results have shown that Fangio picked the right guy. Through three games, Bridgewater has proven to be QB1, and is yet to turn the ball over. The veteran signal-caller has full command of the offense, supporting Fangio’s multiple decisions to go for it on fourth down thus far.
By no means does this mean that Fangio has 'arrived' as a head coach in the NFL. But if I’m being objective, there’s no doubt that the team has bought into Fangio's message.
This doesn’t mean he's been the greasy car salesman with the same old ‘Any Given Sunday’ halftime speech. Instead, it means that the player’s coach has empowered his most impactful team leaders, including Bridgewater and Miller.
Follow Luke on Twitter @LukePattersonLP.
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