Is it time for the Broncos to blow up the roster and start a new? Just two years into the Russell Wilson era we are already on our second head coach and sitting at a one and four record heading into week six. This is not what anyone expected when swinging trades to bring in Wilson, and Payton.
Shipping out three veteran players, three first round picks, three second round picks, and a fifth round pick for Wilson, Seattle’s 4th round pick, as well as Payton and the Saints 3rd round pick is starting to look worse and worse by the game. Wilson has led the Broncos to just 6 wins in his last 22 tries. Apparently importing a Super Bowl caliber team isn’t as easy as we thought.
Broncos Suffer Another Ugly Loss
The Broncos just lost 31-21 to the Zach Wilson led Jets at home. The worst part is this wasn’t some exotic game plan, or a game that just got away from Denver. The Jets seemingly just played great complimentary football around Zach Wilson. Whether it was the defense producing 4 sacks, the field goal unit producing 17 points, or the rushing attack this team decimated this Denver defense. As of right now, that defense is a laughing stock of the NFL.
Breece Hall and the Jets rushing attack ran all over the Broncos defense to the tune of 234 rushing yards. Hall averaged 8 yards per carry on the day collecting 177 rushing yards, adding 17 yards on 3 receptions. Dalvin Cook, and Michael Carter both got involved adding 31 yards as well. This is quickly becoming a trend for the Broncos defense. Last week against the Chicago Bears they allowed 171 rushing yards, over 100 of which went to Khalil Herbert their top back. This was the third straight week the Broncos defense in allowed at least one 100 yard rusher.
They’ve also struggled to keep these backs out of the end zone. They have allowed 8 rushing touchdowns to running backs over the last 4 weeks. Already Denver has allowed 938 rushing yards at 5.9 yards per attempt on the year. The only performance worth mentioning came in week one. The bad news for Broncos fans is they face a murderer’s row of running backs that could pound this defense into submission. They face Isaiah Pacheco, and the Chiefs twice, and the Packers dynamic duo of Aaron Jones and Aj Dillon. Coming out of the last three games I’m shocked Vance Joseph is still employed as the DC.
Is it Time to Move On?
Vance Joseph has overseen a historically bad stretch for the Broncos as both a head coach, and now a defensive coordinator as well. As Sean Payton’s handpicked coordinator he has gotten a long leash but it’s time to move on. Currently the Broncos rank near the bottom in every major category:
Passing Yards 31st
Passing TDs 32nd
Passing 1st Down % 32nd
Completion Rate 32nd
Rushing Yards 32nd (168 yards more than 31)
Rushing YPC 32nd
Rushing TDs Tied 31st
Rushing 1st Down % 24th
Only 5 turnovers created
It’s time to move on. You have two guys on staff who have experience in that defensive coordinator role at the NFL level, and two younger guys that could take over that role if you wanted to look at a more long term option. Greg Manusky, Joe Vitt, Michael Wilhoite, and Christian Parker could all be looked at as potential replacements. Or they could go out in left field and bring in Gregg Williams who led one of the best XFL teams as a consultant.
Through four games it’s become apparent quite quickly Jeudy’s performance in 2022 was more of a flash in the pan than his new normal. Despite his catch percentage rising, his yards per target have fallen and it appears the Broncos are content with him simply being one of many weapons rather than the main attraction to this offense. Denver loaded up at receiver in free agency, then followed up by drafting promising rookie Marvin Mims in the second round.
Jeudy fell just shy of 1,000 yards last season, but in a season that was expected to be a break out year for Jeudy he has produced the third most receptions and yards on the team. What has been talked about most is his demeanor and how it’s perceived he isn’t happy in Denver. If that’s the case it’s hard to blame him. No one likes to lose and Jeudy has done a lot of it since getting to the Broncos. At best Jeudy is worth a conditional 3rd round pick for the right team, but I would expect something like a 4th round pick if the 49ers are looking for a one year rental they make a lot of sense. Imagine adding Jeudy as a 3rd WR in that offense.
Left tackles come at a premium in the NFL, and Bolles has been a plus level starter for several seasons now. His contract could be a detriment for some teams, but a playoff team looking for a midseason boost could look at Bolles as an upgrade. Bolles likely would not get anything more than a 4th in return by himself. If the Broncos can package him and a pick perhaps we see a third in return but I don’t see many teams jumping at the price without a 5th round pick in return.
Bolles is a solid piece but he is no Trent Williams who netted Washington a 5th and a 3rd in return. Age, cost, and very public comments about being unhappy all drive his price down. Teams like Tennessee, Chicago, and Washington would make sense. Washington could be dangerous if they can protect Howell.
Simmons might be the most valuable trade piece on this team outside of Patrick Surtain II. Reports are teams have already called on Simmons, and others.
Drafted in round three in 2016 Justin Simmons has gone on to be one of the most consistent and reliable performers for the Broncos for the last eight seasons. Currently he is in a little bit of a down spell, but it appears that even opposing teams believe that he’ll come out of the slump at some point. Simmons is not only one of the best players on the Broncos currently he is one of the best safeties in the NFL.
In his seven seasons prior to 2023 he had 27 interceptions including 16 interceptions over the past three seasons alone, intercepting five or more passes each season. Simmons value is not strictly in the passing game as he is able to also aid the run game, and rush the passer when called upon. He has 3.5 sacks, 5 QB hits, 17 tackles for a loss, and 54 pass break ups. He is the Prototypical safety in today’s NFL. Unfortunately I don’t believe his tree value will be much over anything listed prior to this. A fourth or fifth round pick is probably the best the Broncos could expect in return, and for this particular player you have to really question if that’s enough to let him go.
I expect several teams would be interested in Simmons if he were available but the one at the top of my list would be the Philadelphia Eagles. Currently we are watching the Defense play scared due to the fact that they do not trust their safeties they’re playing their cornerbacks in off coverage despite the fact that many of them are man corners and this could be relieved simply by making a trade for Justin Simmons it would not surprise me in the slightest if they are one of the teams it’s already reached out to Denver.
Patrick Surtain II
This is the one player on this roster that I do not see the Denver Broncos trading despite the fact that he holds the highest value on the team of any player lockdown corners are few and far between especially this young. Surtain is a student of the game having been born and raised in a household run by a former NFL pro ball cornerback. He grew up learning how to play the position and has never wavered in his desire to be one of the best to ever suit up.
Drafted just two seasons ago in the first round ninth overall, Surtain is still very young and on a rookie contract which makes him extremely valuable. In just his third season he’s already accounted for seven interceptions, and 30 Pass deflections. Certain is and should be viewed as a building block there any team would be lucky to have this early in his career. He will surely command a big deal at the end of his rookie contract and that is the only reason I could understand the thought of trading him but with him only in his third season you still have at least one season of affordable play.
If he were traded he is definitely worth a first round pick still to this day. I could see several teams biting on a trade for him if it was made known that he was available. Including several playoff teams, The 49ers, and chargers top my list. Imagine a Defense where you can pair Asante Samuel Junior and Patrick Surtain II in one defensive backfield.
Jewel is a Guy I would expect to see some interest from teams. If you need help inside a middle linebacker Jewel is a valuable guy. He has played extremely well and healthy this season, and he’s been a reliable for former for many seasons for Denver. Now he’s likely to return a very late draft back at best sixth or seventh maybe. However if this is truly a situation where the Broncos are looking to the future, and willing to tear this team down to the bare bones, Jewel should be on the list of players to seek value from.
The Bills could look to Jewel to help out their ailing defense. Some other teams that could consider Jewel are; the Eagles, Cowboys, Rams, Packers, or Vikings. The one deterrent here, is the fact that Jewel’s contract expires after this season.
Reports are that Frank Clark is one of the players that teams have reached out about, however what value could the aging Clark bring after missing most of this season due to injury? So far he’s appeared in just two games, logging two tackles. To make matters worse, he hasn’t started a full season since 2016, and it’s been three years since he topped six sacks.
There’s also the concerning arrest of Clark for having a sub machine gun in his car. This is still very recent although he did serve his punishment from the league with the Chiefs. Clark is at this point likely better used as a situational pass rusher, but his ability to play 4-3 defensive end, or 3-4 outside linebacker does help his value. This is another player who at Best would fetch a late round pick. My assumption would be no more than a late fifth from a playoff team looking to get over the hump.
Why Tank if You Have A QB?
With all this in mind assuming the goal is in fact to ultimately Collett a year and begin to tank, that goal should begin this week against the Chiefs, with a three week stretch it could see The Broncos come out zero and three, we could see them fall to the worst record in the nfl quickly. Currently only Carolina remains winless. There are four 1-4 teams in the NFC, as well as the Patriots in the AFC. If any teams are tanking they face stiff competition for that number one pick. Denver could certainly use that pick even if it just becomes trade fodder to recoup more picks.
Currently the Broncos hold just six draft picks in 2024 and only two of those reside above the fourth round. This will not be an easy rebuild without trading away several players to gain more draft capital and making very key free agent moves this offseason. The problem is the Broncos would have to seriously considering selecting a quarterback if they do land the number one pick. So far Wilson has done nothing but confirmed that he is a system QB that benefited from talented rosters and play callers around him.
Denver has a potential out from Wilson’s contract after the 2025 season. This would give a young quarterback two seasons to settle in before taking over as the starter long term. This could be best case scenario for the Broncos who could round out their roster with Wilson in tow for the next two years knowing they have their present and future locked in under center.
Looking Forward to Week Six
The Broncos face the Chiefs twice over the next three weeks. The Chiefs are currently 7th in passing yards, tied for 4th in passing touchdowns, and they’re tied for first in sacks allowed with 4 total. They currently sit 11th in rushing yards, tied for 7th in average rushing yards per carry, and fumbled just one time.
Patrick Mahomes has been doing Patrick Mahomes things all year long, passing for 1,287 yards. Outside of a week four performance against the Jets that saw him throw one touchdown to two interceptions but still won the game while remind us he can run the ball as well with 7 carries for 51 yards fumbling once. Mahomes is on pace for more carries than ever before in his career. His career high came in 2021 when he racked up 66 carries for 381 yards. He already has 23 carries for 154 yards after five games. Currently he’s averaging almost 1 yard per carry more than his career high of 5.9 last season (6.7).
The Chiefs have asked him to carry the offense more this season than ever before. His receivers since Tyreek Hill left haven’t been nearly as dangerous. This season, Rashee Rice and Kadarius Toney have taken over as the top two receivers for the Chiefs behind Travis Kelce. Kelce has nearly double the targets (27) of the second leading receiver on the team in Rice (17). If you can slow down Kelce, there’s a good chance you can slow down this offense. Mahomes can and will turn the ball over at times as well. If the Broncos come out firing this could be a winnable game.
Fifteen Straight Losses to the Chiefs
The Broncos have lost 15 straight games to the Kansas City Chiefs. It was so long ago that Peyton Manning, and Alex Smith were the starters on that September evening in 2015. A losing streak that dates back 2,945 days or 8 years, and 20 days. Winning this game would be the ultimate sign of a turn around for the Broncos but they would have to put up their best performance of the season to stand a chance of this happening.
Keys to Victory
Keep Kelce in check. Now more than ever before this offense runs through him. The run game even opens up more when he is in the game due to the attention he commands. In my opinion, it’s time for Justin Simmons to earn his $14.4 million salary. If I am Vance Joseph, I’m pressing Kelce on the line with a linebacker every play, then bailing into underneath zone, or blitzing while Simmons singles up on him.
Simmons doesn’t have the size or strength to play press coverage and try and slow Kelce’s release, so you counteract this by using a linebacker to press him, and Simmons to handle the rest. The thing is it has to be something you follow all game long. Wear him down. By the fourth quarter he will be so tired, and sick of seeing a linebacker in his face Simmons will be muscling him around as well. Simmons is one of the few players that can man up on Kelce, and it wouldn’t be the first time he’s been called upon to do so, the difference is, before the Chiefs had more weapons to be worried about.
Control the Tempo
The Broncos must utilize their run game, and short to intermediate routes to chew up clock, and extend drives. Limit chances for Mahomes and the offense, while keeping your defense fresh. Outside of the Bears game the Chiefs haven’t been blowing teams out. Every game has been won or lost by 8 points or less.
The one team to beat Kansas City this season was Detroit in week one. They stayed dedicated to the run game with 34 total carries, including 21 by David Montgomery who only averaged 3.5 yards per carry. The goal in this game won’t be to create big plays and turn it into a shoot out. At that point you’re playing right into the Chiefs’ strength. In this game we should see a heavy dose of Jaleel McLaughlin, Michael Burton and Chris Manhertz in this game. I wouldn’t even be upset if we saw some 6 Linemen sets.
The Chiefs receivers have accounted for 8 drops in five games. Outside of Justin Watson they don’t have a single receiver over 210 lbs, these receivers can be bullied into incompletions, they can be jammed at the line to throw off timing, and give the pass rush extra time to get home. I expect Kareem Jackson to play a factor in this respect. Reminding receivers who come across the middle he isn’t afraid to lay the wood.
Betting Odds and Predictions
Our sponsor Betus who will give you a 125% match bonus for signing up using our link, has Denver as 10.5 Point underdogs. The money line for the Broncos is +480, for the Chiefs it’s -650. The over/under is 47.5 points. If I were to bet on this game I would bet on the Broncos to cover the spread, and take the over. The Chiefs have only won one game all season long by more than eight points so far. I don’t expect that to change this week against the Broncos. The Broncos obviously have several issues on both side of the bar that has them one and for after five weeks, however they have shown signs of life. I expect this to turn into somewhat of a shoot out, with the Chiefs staying about seven points ahead throughout the game.
Chiefs 31 – 24 Denver
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