Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images
The Denver Broncos ultimately lost in week one against a stout Titans team, but we saw some good things from the team. Here are my thoughts, opinions, and analysis on the Denver Broncos’ most recent game.
Welcome Broncos fans to the 2020 NFL season and a new year of the No Bull Review!
I’ve been reviewing games like this since 2011 and am excited for another season cheering on, analyzing, and giving honest, open feedback about our beloved Broncos team. If you are new here, please understand my reviews are meant to “call it like I see it.” The whole point of these reviews is to share my opinions on players, coaching, and other interesting minutia I see during each game. Hopefully you gain some insight from it. Feel free to hit me up in the comments with any and all thoughts you have on my opinions. I’m a rarity in the online world in that I’ll own it when I’m wrong so don’t be shy about sharing opposing viewpoints.
I think overall the defense looked pretty solid, but not spectacular. The Tennessee Titans make a lot of defenses look like that dating back to last season. Their offense is balanced, efficient, and well coached from top to bottom.
That being said, you want to see more from a defense that has had so much money spent on it. There were problems stopping the run up front. While there were not huge holes, they were there and the Titans took advantage of them consistently.
I also see a pretty lackluster pass rush that was really missing Von Miller’s presence. On lots of 3rd downs and 5 or more, there just wasn’t enough pressure to stop drives. Vic Fangio is going to need to find some answers either by scheme (not likely) or talk John Elway into getting a solid free agent in to help if their goal is making the playoffs this season.
Jeremiah Attaochu overall did a pretty decent job replacing Von Miller. He had a nice pass rush early. At the end of the half he gets home with a sack. He wasn’t the kind of pass rusher that was requiring extra help like Von, but he definitely showed the capability to rush around the edge and create pressure opportunities as a starter.
Jurrell Casey had a very nice pass knock down at the end of the 1st half. He did it again in the 3rd quarter which almost led to a pick. He’s a solid player on this revamped defensive front, but I didn’t notice much of him crashing the pocket. The Titans interior line did a consistently great job on 3rd down which may have had a big part to play in it.
Josely Jewel with a big time TFL on Henry. Loved the job attacking the gap and shedding under the blocker to lay the wood on the big back. I’ve historically not liked Jewel as he doesn’t have the speed to really succeed at the NFL level in coverage, but he does attack his run fits as good as any linebacker in the NFL and he showed that in week 1.
A.J. Bouye was on pace to have a spectacular game. He showed great coverage on 3rd down to stop the initial drive. His man coverage on the outside was consistently all over his assignment. I can definitely see what John Elway saw in bringing him to the Denver team in need of help at cornerback. Hopefully his shoulder heals quickly so we see him back out there. He was by far the best corner playing in the game.
How about my boy Michael Ojemudia? That guy showed up big in his rookie debut. He had great coverage on 3rd down over the middle. In the 3rd quarter he kills it with a big time interception on the outside that sadly got taken away by a foolish personal foul on Alexander Johnson. Ojemudia absolutely oozed NFL potential in week 1. I’m really excited to see what else he does as the season wears on.
If you’ve been with me for the past few years, you will know that one of my favorite Broncos on the defense is Justin Simmons. Regardless of how much I dig the guy, we have to keep it real. He had a really bad game to start the season. He got burned across the middle multiple times and gave up an easy TD in the 4th quarter because he was confused and not ready to play football at a critical moment. He seemed out of sorts for sure, but hopefully we’ll be able to chalk it up to being just a bad game.
I didn’t see much from Kareem Jackson, but the one play I did note him in on was a key tip on a 3rd and 10 that would have been a chunk gain by the Titans. Instead, he forced them to punt giving the offense superb field position.
It is another year and yet another 1st year of a new offense for the Denver Broncos. We have a young starting QB learning the game and a line the jury is still out on.
Let’s just say my expectations weren’t high for the offense going into this game. I wasn’t disappointed or surprised in the outcome of the game. The offense overall seemed well-schemed but limited ultimately by missed opportunities and poor plays from many of the young starters on the team.
I think there is a good chance to see this offense grow as the season wears on. The players on offense lacked focus and that is something that can be solved in short order. I fully expect Pat Shurmur to really dial in on the tape and get the players more focused and precise about their play.
There was a lot to like about Drew Lock in week 1. He definitely had command of the offense and has the capability to make all the throws necessary to be a great NFL quarterback one day.
I loved the throw from Lock for the first TD of the season. He rolled out well and waived to direct Fant to the right spot to get the score. The most impressive part of the throw was that it was across his body and he had the arm strength to get it to his guy…there aren’t a lot of quarterbacks in the NFL that can make that throw.
The downside with Lock is that he still looks like a rookie. He missed several wide open guys in this game because of locking onto a primary receiver and never scanning. It is something I hope they work with him on as the season goes on. In the NFL, the good quarterbacks see more faster than what Lock is doing right now.
The other consistent miss with Lock was overthrowing deep passes. He’s got to get more accurate on those as many of them had receivers with steps on their guys. The offense could have easily had 14 more points if he connects on a couple of the big passes that were there for the taking.
The big talking point at the line starts with Lloyd Cushenberry III and the two bumbled snaps. In the press conference, Lock took responsibility for both. I can’t tell you for sure, but I tend to chalk this up to the shortened training camp and lack of preseason games to get the exchange well practiced between QB and center.
This just in: Garett Bolles didn’t have a holding penalty called. Also, he kinda does pretty darn well at run blocking.
Right tackle is and will be the Achilles heel of this line the rest of the year. Elijah Wilkinson picked up where he left off last season in getting consistently beat on the edge.
Melvin Gordon had a pretty solid game averaging 5.2 yards per carry. We gotta point out the bad fumble in the 2nd quarter where he didn’t secure the ball well enough when a tackler was incoming. I liked how he picked up his game in the 2nd half and how Shurmur adjusted the play calling to get him outside where the line was winning consistently.
Phillip Lindsay looked ready to pick up where he left off last season with impactful plays as one of the team’s best offensive weapons. In the short time we got to see him on the field, he averaged 3.4 yards per carry and was used over the middle for a 10+ yard pass showing off what he’s been working on this offseason in being a better receiving option.
Noah Fant did a really great job using his size to box out and help secure catches. He made a 31 yard catch and run play on 3rd and long to rumble down the sideline for big yards. He had over 80 yards and a touchdown. The one big head-scratcher for the offense was how in the world did they get away from Fant in the 2nd half.
Tim Patrick got a key 3rd down conversion using his body to box out on a crossing route. He’s not Courtland Sutton, but he showed he has that kind of size and physical presence that can be used as the same kind of receiver that will keep the chains moving on the outside.
I honestly can’t remember recently seeing such a well rounded special teams performance from the Broncos in a long, long time. I’ve bagged on Tom McMahon in the past as his teams have been pretty lackluster over the past couple of years, but we need to give him props for this game. He had them all ready to play and though the team lost, the special teams was a big plus for the team.
What a beautiful punt near the end of the game by Sam Martin. He angled it to go out inside the 10 and it was nearly perfectly placed. We really needed those two drives to not end in a punt, but it is good to see a punter who has this kind of capability.
Shelby Harris with the field goal block at the end of the half was a big time play. Every year he plays with this team I’m impressed with his athleticism and physical ability.
As I said before, the opponent this week was a very good football team. The played well from the start of the game until the finish and even though we were helped by one of the worst kicking performances I’ve ever witnessed in an NFL football game, the team just couldn’t pull out the win at the end of the game.
I will say that Fangio not trying to save some clock was a huge mistake from what I’m seeing in my armchair at home. I thought it was when he was letting them run the clock in the moment and I feel like his answer when questioned about it in the press conference was a bunch of nonsense. He needs to go back and look at that situation so he can grow from it as a head coach and put his team in a better position to win. Lock can play, but he needs more time on the clock to work with.
The offense wasn’t good enough to put enough points on the board. I think improvement can be made in play calling to be more successful in the 2nd half. Shurmur seemed to take a little too long to adjust to what the defense was attacking. You have to take advantage of that…Lock also needs to shoulder some responsibility here. He has to learn how to read the defenses better and audible into better plays (kinda like what Tannehill was doing all game long).
The defense needs to find answers for their pass rush. It was lackluster overall and needs to consistently do more. The defensive backfield looked really sound (even without Bouye) with the exception of Justin Simmons. If we can get an uptick of play out of our free safety position, the team will be able to do more.
As always, hit me up in the comments and let me know what you think. Did you notice anyone I didn’t mention that had a great game? What about derpy plays that could have made a difference?