Fans can breathe a big sigh of relief, as the Denver Broncos overcame a series of self-inflicted wounds in their 16-9 win over the Houston Texans. It seemed like players, coaches, and even the services at Empower Field at Mile High were not in sync.
The Broncos continued to struggle to get into a rhythm, while the coaching staff's in-game decision-making was comedic, and Empower Field's facilities offered fans free food due to issues taking payment.
But in the NFL, a win is a win.
The Broncos outplayed the Texans in the second half of the ball game, earning the victory due to stars making an impact in key moments of the game, and head coach Nathaniel Hackett and his staff making key in-game adjustments. But as the Broncos' schedule ramps up with more difficult opponents, the team must fix its glaring holes in order to compete.
What was good, bad, and downright ugly about the Broncos in Week 2? Let's dive in.
Courtland Sutton | WR
Sutton is Denver's clear WR1. No matter the game situation, he delivered. In short yardage, he ran slant routes that moved the chains.
Conversely, when quarterback Russel Wilson needed to dial up a go route down the sidelines, Sutton was at the ready to snatch the jump ball from the hands of smaller defenders. Sutton snagged seven catches for 122 yards and averaged at a whopping 17.4 yards per catch. It was a big impact by a team captain no less.
Javonte Williams and Melvin Gordon appeared to be fueled by the need to redeem themselves after last week’s costly red-zone fumbles. Williams ran for 75 yards, averaging 5.0 per carry, while Gordon contributed 47 yards on 10 attempts.
Give the Broncos' offensive line credit for opening big holes for the backs to barrel through. It was a good reminder for Coach Hackett to give the pair another shot in short-yardage situations near the goal line.
Dre’Mont Jones | DL
The fourth-year defensive end is showing signs of becoming an impact player. As the game wore on, Jones created interior pressure that forced Texans quarterback Davis Mills to focus on the impending hits coming his way instead of keeping his eyes downfield the looking for the open receiver.
Jones finished with five tackles and two game-altering sacks.
The Broncos continually let the Texans off the hook by committing 13 penalties for 100 yards. This is the second consecutive week where self-inflicted wounds inhibited the Broncos' ability to put points on the scoreboard.
The coaching staff is not without fault. Clock management has become a huge drag on the Hackett-led staff. There were several cases where time-outs had to be used because it appeared play calls did not get to Wilson in a timely manner.
It was telling when the entire stadium was yelling the game-clock countdown to alert the veteran quarterback that he has five seconds before the referee calls a delay of game penalty. Hackett’s coaching staff is clearly talented, but their lack of experience is showing.
This past offseason, fans heard a drumbeat of positive news which raised Broncos Country's expectations a Mile High. The promise of finally beating the Kansas City Chiefs was clearly in fans' sights as the Broncos hired Hackett as their new head coach, traded for a potential future Hall-of-Fame quarterback, and were purchased by Rob Walton — the wealthiest owner in the NFL.
Based on the offseaosn press conferences and subsequent interviews, Broncos fans feel they have the right to hold the team 100% accountable for their on-field performance. On Sunday, fans cheered with jubilation when Wilson threw a touchdown pass to tight end Eric Saubert.
On the other hand, Broncos Country booed as loud as a foghorn when clock management and player substitution blunders threatened to cost the team the game. Broncos fans now have a 'make the playoffs or bust' mindset.
Winning Sunday’s contest was a positive step forward in erasing the lingering stench from the opening week’s loss in Seattle. Week 3's home tilt against the San Francisco 49ers on national television is the perfect stage to show Broncos fans that the organization embraces continuous improvement and is on the right path to earning a playoff spot.
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