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Broncos Game Grades: A win in spite of individual performances

Andre Simone Avatar
September 18, 2018

Throughout the entire 2018-19 season, BSN Denver will be giving you game grades from every Denver Broncos contest. Evaluating all the starters and beyond to give you a better look at the team’s strengths and weaknesses on a game-to-game basis.

In a crazy 20-19 comeback win over the Oakland Raiders, the Denver Broncos scraped by in spite of many ugly individual performances. We break every player’s game down from the gutsy Week 2 win.

Standouts from the game

Phillip Lindsay: A

  • Lindsay was a spark plug for the offense, setting the tone early by getting the first first-down conversion with a 53-yard scamper.
  • He was reliable all day, running tough, breaking tackles and gaining chunk yardage.
  • Maybe more impressive than his 53-yard run was a 10-yard gain in which he broke several tackles, the heart and determination he ran with was contagious. 
  • Despite his size, Lindsay converted multiple third-and-short runs, a testament to his physical running style and elusiveness.
  • He even did a nice job in pass protection in the decisive throw to Tim Patrick in the final drive.
  • No. 30 was the clear MVP of the game, going off for 111 yards on 15 touches for an average of 7.4 yards per. 

Domata Peko: A

  • Peko dominated up front, plugging gaps and playing a big role in stopping the Raiders’ run.
  • The big NT had himself a run stuff on 3rd-and-1, forcing a punt and then came close once more in the final defensive stand.
  • Peko was omnipresent in this one, even running plays down in pursuit and closing down a screen for a loss of yards.
  • With five tackles, he was masterful on the day.

Emmanuel Sanders: A-

  • Sanders caught all four of the passes thrown his way and came up clutch several times.
  • Made some tough grabs, going down to scoop up low throws, or catching balls in traffic, and holding on for dear life when he knew he was going to get hit immediately after.
  • Did a nice job getting open when he needed to, having an impactful performance despite limited touches.

Von Miller: A-

  • This wasn’t Miller’s dominant Week 1 performance, but he was still really good.
  • Seeing lots of double teams early, Von was quiet but then took off.
  • If not for a holding penalty in coverage, he could’ve had a massive fumble and sack.
  • Had Denver’s only sack of the game, knocking RT Donald Penn on his rump. 
  • Played well against the run, setting a strong edge and getting a run stuff.
  • Was all over the field, running down plays against the run and pass, showing great pursuit and effort.
  • A quiet but really strong performance.

Defense

Derek Wolfe: C-

  • Wolfe had a couple tackles but had little impact around the line of scrimmage.
  • Almost closed on a run in the red zone but was tripped up once he broke into the backfield.
  • A fairly absent game as others in the front three rotation outshined him.

Adam Gotsis: C-

  • Gotsis had a nice tackle against the run getting a run stuff, his one real highlight of the game.
  • Had Marshawn Lynch dead to rights on a crucial 3rd-and-1, but couldn’t hold the RB for the stop, as Lynch bulled his way forward to get the first down.

Bradley Chubb: C+

  • Chubb’s impact as a pass rusher was nonexistent, but he did a nice job against the run.
  • Totaled three run stuffs, leading the team in that category.
  • Played well in pursuit and created good penetration against the run.
  • He’s lucky Oakland didn’t convert the 4th-and-1 where he was targeted, due to a drop, or he would’ve been a goat in this one. 

Brandon Marshall: D

  • Marshall was missing in action most of the game, and was a big reason why Denver’s underneath coverage left receivers to run wild.
  • Lost Seth Roberts for an easy first down conversion.
  • Missed Lynch on his TD run up the middle. 
  • Was effective busting through the middle on a rare successful blitz on third down, forcing an incompletion.
  • Overall, he had a really poor game like most of the defensive back seven. 

Todd Davis: D

  • Davis had great tight coverage on Jared Cook down in the red zone, allowing a short gain.
  • Struggled in coverage and was flagged for holding, nullifying a sack-fumble early on, an incredibly costly penalty.
  • He did a good job closing down on Lynch, forcing him out of bounds for a run stuff.
  • Allowed two more easy gains from backs in coverage, giving up two first downs. A major let down performance after a great Week 1.

Darian Stewart: D+

  • Stewart wasn’t tested much but lost Jared Cook in coverage in the second quarter, allowing an easy 20-yard gain. 
  • Made a nice tackle, flying in to stop Jordy Nelson out in the flats.
  • Considering how soft the underneath coverage over the middle was, Stewart should’ve been more of a presence. 

Justin Simmons: D

  • Simmons had an up and down performance and was involved in a lot of the action.
  • He was targeted five times, allowing five catches for 51 yards and a touchdown, not good.
  • Did a nice job on a third-down blitz, forcing the Broncos’ only quarterback hurry.
  • Came up in the run to get a run stuff. 
  • Missed a few tackles in coverage and just didn’t have a good game as the deep safety.

Bradley Roby: D-

  • Roby really struggled and was picked on by the Raiders pass offense.
  • Allowed six catches for 45 yards, allowing a reception every time he was targeted.
  • Played too soft in off-coverage and was burned a few times by Amari Cooper. 
  • His instincts and speed while closing on plays downhill was underwhelming.
  • He did, however, come up with a few clutch tackles, none more so than his 3rd-and-8 stop that forced the Raiders to punt, allowing Denver to get the ball back and win the game.  

Chris Harris Jr: B-

  • Harris was only targeted three times, allowing three catches for 22 yards.
  • The veteran CB allowed short gains, though he did concede a third down conversion and wasn’t necessarily his best. 
  • He got into the opposing backfield and almost got a tackle for a loss.
  • This was a fairly quiet game, a good thing, though No. 25 was far from perfect. 

Other noteworthy defensive performances:

Adam Jones: F

  • Jones was not sharp, allowing four receptions for 58 yards, a team high.
  • Was playing way too far off and conceded too many easy receptions, especially to Cooper.
  • The Raiders picked on him, targeting him on outside passes where he wasn’t always a sure tackler.

Tramaine Brock: D

  • Brock was a bit better than Jones but not by much.
  • Conceded four receptions for 43 yards, allowing a catch every time he was targeted.
  • Did not have a good game, as he, too, was playing soft coverage allowing easy catches. 

Zach Kerr: B

  • Kerr made his presence felt against the run, getting a run stuff, and playing an active role up front.
  • Came close to another stop, and outplayed the starting DEs.

Offense

Garett Bolles: D-

  • Bolles struggled mightily in pass protection, allowing lots of pressure from his side in the first three quarters.
  • Did not have a clean game, conceding a sack, a tackle for a loss, and a holding penalty.
  • Bruce Irvin gave him issues for most of the game.
  • Was good at times when getting out on the move to block outside runs, but also missed blocks and was a bit sloppy run blocking. 
  • Bolles picked it up a bit in the fourth quarter—despite the holding flag—in a disappointing performance after a career-best showing in Week 1. 

Ron Leary: C+

  • Leary had some highlights, with a great block on the move to free up Royce Freeman. Later, he absolutely pancaked a defender on a clutch 3rd-and-3 conversion in pass protection.
  • Had a nice lead block, too, opening up a big lain.
  • Leary did allow a pressure up the middle and wasn’t always perfect in pass pro against a patchwork Raiders interior DL. 
  • Though not always perfect or super smooth blocking, he had a mostly positive impact and played mistake-free. 

Matt Paradis: D

  • Paradis wasn’t his usual, reliable self, starting with a high snap on 3rd-and-7 that could’ve been disastrous.
  • Had a horrendous holding penalty in the second half, setting the Broncos way back and pushing them out of the red zone. The penalty was inexplicable.
  • Conceded a run stop in an underwhelming game.

Connor McGovern: B+

  • McGovern was efficient.
  • Did a nice job run blocking and was on top of his game in pass protection, handling one-on-one blocks well.
  • Led the way on a pull block for a Lindsay six-yard gain.
  • Was by far the best OL for Denver. 

Jared Veldheer: D+

  • Veldheer allowed a bad QB pressure when beat off his inside shoulder.
  • Allowed a tackle for a loss, as he let Arden Key blow by him.
  • Was evaluated for a concussion and played very little in the second half, giving way to Billy Turner.
  • In limited time, he wasn’t great, as both offensive tackles allowed pressure.

Royce Freeman: C

  • Freeman forced runs outside too often, as his vision wasn’t great.
  • Came up with two huge runs, including a TD up the middle. 
  • His best run was a crucial 3rd-and-1 gain, showing great wiggle to make Irvin miss in the backfield and outrun the ‘D’ to the corner.
  • Also had a nice outside run on a toss for 15 yards, showing good speed.
  • He was too one-dimensional, but made his mark. 

Demaryius Thomas: F

  • Thomas didn’t look like himself and had some huge drops.
  • Targeted 11 times, he only hauled in five for a measly 18 yards.
  • His impact getting YAC was sorely lacking.
  • The most egregious play for DT was a drop that could’ve cost the Broncos the game, as he simply needed to bring in the catch and would’ve set the Broncos up in field goal range in the decisive final drive. 

Jeff Heuerman: D+

  • Heuerman had a hard time blocking and wasn’t super impactful in the passing game.
  • Allowed a pressure on the QB and 1.5 run stops.
  • He did come up with two tough grabs that were crucial, including a 3rd-and-2 conversion.

Case Keenum: C

  • Keenum struggled early on, wasn’t reading the blitz pre-snap and was a bit inaccurate. 
  • The QB wasn’t very efficient on third down, converting only 3-of-8 attempts.
  • He threw a terrible pick down in the red zone that could’ve cost the Broncos the game. 
  • In fairness, some of Keenum’s best throws were dropped or just barely out of bounds, or not called as catches when they sure looked to be legal receptions. 
  • As he got going, he made some nice passes, moving around the pocket, and even had some clutch runs late. 
  • At the end of the day, he came up with big drives in the end, and though it wasn’t pretty, he found ways to get points on the board and win. 

Other noteworthy offensive performances:

Jake Butt: B-

  • Butt came up big with four grabs for 48 yards, two of which were crucial for Denver to win the game.
  • Did a nice job fighting for extra yards after the catch, especially for a 14-yard gain in the final drive.
  • Played tough and did a nice job holding onto the ball after contact.
  • Struggled a bit as a blocker, but had a good game overall.

Billy Turner: C+

  • Thrown into the fire after Veldheer’s injury, Turner did a nice job in pass protection, especially at the end of the game.
  • He did allow a pressure from Key, but had a good showing all things considered. 

Tim Patrick: B-

  • Patrick had a great contested catch in the end zone that was called a TD but wasn’t able to hang onto the ball once he went to the ground, as his score didn’t stand.
  • Still, he came up with the play of the game, with a great run after the catch to get the Broncos in FG position for the win.

Special Teams: A-

Brandon McManus came up clutch with the final extra point and the winning field goal, a great performance.

Marquette King had his best game as a Bronco, with four punts for an average of 51 yards per punt, allowing absolutely nothing to returners. 

Coaching: D+

Bill Musgrave’s offense looked lost in the first half. The tempo was missing, and the unit was having trouble picking up the blitz. He was also too conservative on first down, often setting the Broncos up to have long down and distance on second and third down. 

Joe Woods’ ‘D’ had lots of breakdowns in coverage, as RBs and TEs were left wide open underneath. It almost looked like the Broncos’ backers had never seen a play-action fake before, and the corners were playing way too far off, allowing Carr to get the ball out quick and not disrupting the rhythm of their quick-hitting offense.

The play calling was a bit puzzling in this one

Vance Joseph’s management of the game was okay, with a gutsy call to go for it on 4th-and-goal instead of taking the points.

It was also a bit odd to see him call a timeout with two seconds left in first half.

The head coach won one of two challenges and generally managed the game well, though he took some risks.

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