The Denver Broncos suffered one of the most embarrassing defeats in NFL history. Allowing over 700 yards of total offense, 70 points, and losing by a 50 point deficit in a game against the Miami Dolphins. This game made Tua look like the best QB in the NFL, and Mike McDaniel looked like nothing he called went wrong.
Every team, suffers a defeat at some point in their season, and the Broncos to this point had not tasted victory. In week one it was a one point loss to the Las Vegas Raiders. In week two it was a two point loss to the Washington Commanders. In week three, the wheels fell off and they lost by 50 points. Then something miraculous happened…The Broncos won a game, and this wasn’t an opponent that just laid down and let this loss happen.
Justin Fields threw four touchdown passes in this game and reminded us why there was so much hype around him coming into this season. He has now thrown 8 touchdown passes, to just 1 interception in a series of 5 days, but his team managed to start off fast, then crumble down the stretch. Getting an early jump on the Broncos, taking a 28-7 lead mid way through the third quarter.
The momentum began to shift late in the third when Denver scored their first points since the first quarter. Putting a touchdown on the board was key for the Broncos comeback hopes heading into the fourth quarter. The Broncos closed out this game by scoring on three straight drives on offense, and one on defense accounting for 24 unanswered points leading to a 3 point victory. Now this is the Bears, not the Chiefs, Raiders, or Chargers. This isn’t the Bills, or any of the powerhouse teams Denver will be tasked with facing coming out of the AFC in the playoff race. What it is…is encouraging. That late third and fourth quarter comeback was the smoothest this Denver offense has looked all season long.
What Went Right?
The Broncos began to get Jaleel McLaughlin involved heavily on that first scoring drive late in the third quarter. Of the 7 plays on this drive he had 3 touches and accounted for 45 yards including a 31 yard run that started the momentum shift. Jaleel entered the game on the next drive, and immediately had another big run starting the drive with a 12 yard carry. After that he wouldn’t touch the ball on the field goal drive. He finished the game with 7 carries for 72 yards, and 3 receptions for 32 yards and 1 touchdown. This man NEEDS to stay involved early and often in week 5. Javonte Williams is listed as questionable which could force the Broncos hand on this matter.
Marvin Mims Jr. is maturing right before our eyes. Mims has started to showcase exactly why the Broncos drafted him in round two when they had tremendous depth before the draft. In the last three games, Mims has produced 233 yards on 7 receptions, and 13 yards on 3 carries. He is averaging 26.9 yards per reception, and has been the main source for big plays for this Broncos offense. He will only continue to get better given that he is heading into his 5th professional game. Working under Sean Payton, and with Russell Wilson who is quietly one of the best deep ball passers in the game, will only help him continue to be dangerous in every game. It wouldn’t be the least bit shocking to see Mims touch 1,000 yards of offense by the end of the season, currently he has 246 through four games.
Brandon Johnson was an undrafted rookie just last season having played in 7 games in 2022 and scoring his first career touchdown. He had just 6 receptions in year one. He already has 7 in year two through his first four games. He has produced 113 yards and 3 touchdowns so far this season, and is quickly developing into a threat to score every game. In this game he caught just 1 pass and still managed to find the end-zone. It appears the Broncos like the 6’2 and change receiver in the red-zone. The Broncos may have been worried about their receiver situation early on, but Mims, and Johnson have calmed those nerves somewhat already.
Delarrin Turner-Yell started in place of Justin Simmons once again and he was all over the field collecting 8 tackles. This was his best performance of the season, but he isn’t fooling anyone into thinking the Broncos defense can survive without Simmons on the field. There are only so many game-changing safeties like Simmons, and Turner-Yell is simply not that guy. He is solid, and he will have some good games, but expecting more than an average starter is setting yourself up for a let down. Justin Simmons has been cleared to play and will return this weekend.
Also returning is our best linebacker so far this season Josey Jewell. Jewell has played some of the best football of his career this season. Going into the Dolphins game, Jewell was graded out at over 80 by PFF.com then he along with everyone else on this defense had their worst game of the season and he bottomed out with a 29.6 overall grade on the day. He didn’t finish the game, and missed week 4 as well. Jewell’s return will be big for this defense who’s back-up didn’t play very well at all in his first start.
Week Five Preview
The 1-3 Broncos have to play the 1-3 Jets, who are coming off of their best performance with Zach Wilson at the helm. They welcome them to Denver at 2:25 pm on Sunday. This should be an interesting game if for no other reason than Zach Wilson. Wilson has seemingly gotten more and more comfortable in this offense as the season goes on. After throwing four interceptions in his first two games, he hasn’t thrown any in the last two games. Live Look at Broncos and Jets fans right now:
This past week he was asked to throw 39 times, and he truly looked good completing 28 passes on the day for 245 yards, 2 touchdowns and 0 interceptions. He also reminded us he could run and pick up yards on the ground when needed as well. So far, Wilson has played in three home games, and one road game. That one road game was his worst performance of the season, perhaps that home crowd truly is helping his confidence. Denver’s crowd will do no such thing. He can expect to hear our patented IN-COM-PLETE chant every time the ball hits the grass.
Wilson has already been sacked 10 times, with the team giving up 11 total sacks on the season. This is where the Broncos can thrown Wilson off his game and create turnovers. They must get pressure early, and often to make sure he is kept off guard, and left second guessing where the free runner will come from next.
Offensively The Broncos Must Take Their Shots
The Broncos have been at their best this season when attacking defenses deep. As mentioned before Russell Wilson throws a beautiful deep ball, and always really has. Lately that has been put on display with Wilson throwing 9 touchdowns tied for third in the league. Of those 9 touchdowns 7 have come from passes thrown 10 or more yards. Wilson has 9 big time throws this season, and his passing efficiency rating only goes up the deeper he throws the ball with his best grade on throws over 20 yards, a 95. Between 10-19 yards he is rated an 89.6. Sean Payton has realized this and increased the amount of deep passing concepts in the offense as the season has progressed.
In week one Wilson’s average depth of target was just 5 yards, which ironically has been his worst area in terms of grade based on passing depth. The following two weeks Payton went to the extreme in the other direction with Wilson averaging 11.4 yards or more. This accounted for 4 touchdowns and 2 interceptions against Washington and Miami. They found a happy medium in week four where Wilson was averaging 7 air yards per attempt and had his best game yet this season.
Wilson finished the Bears game 21 of 28 for 223 yards, 3 touchdowns, 0 interceptions. The offensive line stood up well allowing 10 pressures, their lowest total since week one. Washington and Miami embarrassed this offensive line producing 40 pressures, 8 sacks, and 5 throw-aways in two games.
Jaleel McLaughlin can be a game changer in the NFL. Anyone who watched the Broncos play in the preseason knew McLaughlin could be special. He proved that once again in week four with his first of many 100 yard days. McLaughlin is a threat to take break off a big play every time he touches the ball and it showed up in a big way in week four when he averaged 10.2 yards per touch for Denver. This is a man who displayed this explosiveness in college, so it is nothing new to his fans, but seeing him do this at the NFL level after going undrafted so early on in his career is somewhat surprising. Then again the Broncos have a long-standing history of finding gems in the UDFA pool.
The Jets rank 7th in defense overall, but if there is one area they have struggled in particular it’s the running game. They have allowed 592 rushing yards through four weeks. They allowed Pacheco to rush for 113 yards in week four, Zeke, and Stevenson combined for 139 yards in week three. In week two it was Pollard and Dowdle who combined for 98 yards. In week one the managed to slowdown James Cook and Josh Allen finding their first win of the season. If the Broncos allow the Jets to stifle their rushing attack it could be the difference in this game. Jaleel McLaughlin will be the X-factor in this game whether Williams plays or not.
Paging Jerry Jeudy
I understand Jeudy came into the 2023 season hurt, and had to miss week one. I understand he wasn’t 100% in week two and maybe still isn’t 100% heading into week five. However, so far his performance has left a lot to be desired. He has been targeted 17 times, catching just 11 passes or 64.7%. He has been credited with one drop, and lost a contested catch in week two as well. This isn’t the performance that Denver expected, currently Jeudy is ranked 62nd in targets, 63rd in receptions, and 53rd in yards. Jeudy wasn’t drafted in the first round to be ranked below the top 15 receiver wise.
As of late, it’s looked like the spark this offense needed has been coming from 2nd round pick Marvin Mims Jr. If this continues to be the case, and Jeudy doesn’t fit the bill of a number one receiver going forward, the trade whispers surrounding Jeudy will only continue. The Broncos receiver corps could look completely different by 2024. The match-up to watch in this game is of course Jeudy against this secondary. As we know, Sauce doesn’t travel much, and Jeudy does a lot of his damage out of the slot, this could add up to a big game for Jeudy. Jeudy will likely see a lot of one on one situations with Michael Carter II.
Mims could be in for a big game. Lining up more often on the right side of the offense, he will likely be tasked with facing Bryce Hall who has not played well this season at all. He is nearing that Damarri Mathis territory. Hall is expected to play in Dj Reed’s absence. This is a total mismatch, and should be exploited by Wilson all game long. In 2021 when the Jets started Hall, he allowed 6 touchdowns, and accounted for 7 penalties. He also had 14 pass break ups but allowed over a 100 QBR on average. Mims has to dominate Hall in order for this team to find a win on Sunday.
Frank Clark, Justin Simmons, Josey Jewell, Jerry Jeudy, and Javonte Williams were all full participants in practice on Friday. Lloyd Cushenberry and Mike Purcell are questionable, while Baron Browning is out.
The Jets are missing Cornerbacks Brandin Echols, and Dj Reed. Safety Jarrick Bernard-Converse is questionable along with LB Samuel Eguavoen, and OL Billy Turner. Three offensive linemen were full participants in practice and should be available for the game. Tony Adams will also be available.
Betting Odds and Prediction
According to our sponsor BETUs.com the Broncos are 2.5 point favorites in this game which is essentially the definition of a split decision given their status as the home team. They expect this to be a close game, as they should. Neither of these teams are particularly better than the other.
The Money line is -135 for Denver, and +115 for New York. The over/under is 43.5 points. Currently they have odds at -126 that New York scores more than 20.5 points, and -110 if they score under. The Broncos odds are -120 that they score 21.5 points or more, and -110 that they score under. If I was a betting man, I’d be taking the under for the Jets, the over for the Broncos, and the whole game. While picking the Broncos overall.
Broncos 27-20 Jets
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