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Broncos Game Grades: Analyzing the individual performances in a dominant win

Andre Simone Avatar
October 20, 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 45-10 beatdown of the Arizona Cardinals, the Broncos found their mojo defensively and made plenty of plays on offense to bring home an impressive prime-time victory.

Standouts from the game

Von Miller: A+

  • Von backed up his pre-game talk by putting on a pass-rushing clinic that’ll give Josh Rosen, and the Cardinals tackles nightmares for a long time.
  • He didn’t just have two sacks, a forced fumble, and four quarterback hits but added four more hurries, disrupting the pocket regularly in the second half.
  • Exploded off the edge, timed snaps to perfection, and made several plays on the ball as well.
  • Even did a nice job of clogging the run, diving inside and forcing short gains on two separate occasions.
  • Ability in pursuit was mesmerizing as he chased down Rosen repeatedly.
  • Processed information quickly and found ways to work back to the QB even on stunts or rushes up the middle.

Todd Davis: A+

  • Davis was everywhere and simply dominated against the run, firing downhill through interior gaps to make a tackle for a loss and five run stuffs while assisting another.
  • As if that wasn’t enough, No. 51 broke the game open early by pouncing on a tipped ball to bring home the pick six.
  • Was even strong in coverage, allowing just one reception over the middle for nine yards on two targets.
  • A monumental performance.

Bradley Roby: A+

  • Roby played a monstrous game in coverage with four pass deflections and an interception.
  • He was aggressive and attacked the ball, showing off his great ball skills, allowing only three receptions on seven targets for a measly 17 yards.
  • Made an incredible play down the sideline turning to make an acrobatic 3rd-and-4 stop on a target to the end zone.
  • Flew in like a bat out of hell to tip the ball on a short curl, forcing an incompletion.
  • Came close to another interception, pouncing on a pass to the sideline, knocking the ball down instead.
  • Delivered a devastating hit to hold his man short of the sticks, coming downhill to knock the WR silly after a short gain.

Phillip Lindsay: A

  • Lindsay got back to it, gashing the Cards with long gains outside and should’ve had over 100 rushing yards if not for an Andy Janovich hold that nullified a big gain.
  • Set the tone early with an outside run of 22 yards, swerving his way to a big gain and barking back at Patrick Peterson after the play.
  • Bounced another run outside for 12 yards, ran up the gut and bowled a few defenders over with great power for six yards, and made a terrific run cutting his way to the sticks on third down.
  • His best play came on his 28-yard touchdown run, reading the block perfectly and exploding through the hole, then making a cut in the open field and running past contact into the end zone.
  • A dominant outing minus a couple runs for a loss of yards that lowered his yards-per-carry average.


Domata Peko: B

  • Peko set the tone on the opening play with a monstrous run stuff, tossing his blocker back and closing down with a great hard tackle.
  • Played well against the run, even if he didn’t make a ton of impact plays.
  • Was flagged on a dubious unnecessary roughness penalty while tackling in pursuit as the receiver was going to the ground.

Derek Wolfe: A-

  • Wolfe had a hell of a performance despite getting banged up in the game and still appearing in 69 percent of the defensive snaps.
  • His highlight was tipping the ball on the opening drive—his fifth PD of the season—leading to the opening pick-six.
  • Made a nice tackle against the run, getting low and forcing the Cards into a third down they didn’t convert, leading to a three-and-out. 
  • Returned to the game and added a QB hurry in a NASCAR look that forced Rosen out the pocket for one of Miller’s sacks.

Adam Gotsis: A

  • Gotsis was stout up front and was moving well, even getting a quarterback hurry coming outside, delivering a lick on Rosen which led to Roby’s interception.
  • Played well against the run and had a couple solid tackles to force short gains.
  • Burst through for a run stuff as he made some strong flash plays in this one.

Brandon Marshall: B

  • Marshall had a quiet game but was reliable both against the run and pass, allowing two receptions for 10 yards on three targets.
  • Was at his best making sound tackles in coverage and not allowing any YAC.
  • Impact against the run was limited with Davis making so many plays.

Bradley Chubb: A

  • Chubb came on in the second half and closed out the game with two sacks and a forced fumble.
  • Was devastating at times, right there with Miller, generating three quarterback hurries.
  • Showed his power on his two sacks getting under the tackle’s pads and bull rushing them into the backfield, where he nimbly worked around the corner to bear down on the QB.
  • Final sack was a thing of beauty; coming around the corner as a stand-up edge and dominating LT D.J. Humphries with power to move him back and bend to get around him. 

Justin Simmons: B

  • Simmons seemed to be used more in coverage up close to the line and had a strong showing against Larry Fitzgerald.
  • His ability as a sure tackler was on full display as he conceded four receptions on four targets but always held his receiver to short gains, allowing 29 yards in all.

Chris Harris Jr.: A

  • Harris played sticky coverage the entire game, playing the ball well and bringing home a pick-six while also deflecting a pass for a 3rd-and-3 stop on Fitzgerald.
  • Was especially dominant in the first half when the Broncos were more aggressive in coverage.
  • With the big lead in hand, he allowed four receptions on eight targets for 38 yards, which doesn’t reflect how dominant he truly was.
  • Tackled superbly in space and almost had a tackle for a loss in one instance, closing down on the wide receiver for no gain outside on a quick screen.
  • Should’ve had another pick in the end zone but just dropped it.
  • An exemplary performance in all fazes of the game.

Other noteworthy defensive performances:

Shelby Harris: A

  • Harris had a big impact performance with two tackles for a loss, a pass deflection at the line, a QB hit, and two more run stuffs, including one down in the red zone.
  • Was slippery and strong at the point of attack wrecking havoc on the Cardinals line.
  • His only mishap was getting flagged for holding a blocker who was trying to get to the second level.

Zach Kerr: B

  • Kerr’s big highlight was an early sack as he won on a swim move off the right guard.
  • Was solid otherwise but didn’t have many more impact plays.

Shaquil Barrett: B-

  • Shaq missed a tackle on a potential TFL at the end of the first quarter, but made up for it by swatting the RG in a NASCAR look to bring home a sack in the first half.


Garett Bolles: B

  • Bolles did a really good job handling Chandler Jones in pass protection, playing balanced without overextending.
  • He made a cracking block on Lindsay’s first big run pushing his defender 10-yards downfield to open up a huge hole.
  • Allowed a tackle for a loss without finishing his block as he tried to break through to the second level and didn’t finish his initial assignment.
  • Jones got a one-yard sack on him in pursuit as well, though it was more on Keenum, who tried to run with a clean pocket than Bolles
  • Played one of his best and cleanest games, dominating in stretches against possibly his toughest one-on-one matchup.

Max Garcia: B+

  • Garcia sealed off a huge lane for Lindsay’s TD run, and was rock solid the entire game.
  • Did get bowled over on a run stop he allowed but was ultra-efficient in pass protection and did a sound job as a run blocker to boot.

Matt Paradis: B

  • Paradis didn’t create tons of push for the running game and was bull rushed into the backfield allowing a run stop.
  • Was solid in pass protection without any major issues.
  • Ultimately played a clean game with few hiccups even if he was far from dominant.

Connor McGovern: C-

  • McGovern struggled, particularly on pull blocks where he allowed a run stuff and was unable to grind out blocks for Lindsay towards the end of the game.
  • His biggest blemish came on 3rd-and-6 as he was beat off the snap forcing Keenum to be flushed out the pocket.
  • Didn’t hold his block long enough to set up a screen as a blitzing Budda Baker forced Keenum into throwing the ball to the ground.
  • A bit of a rough outing as the run-blocking prowess was lacking and he allowed a key pressure.

Billy Turner: C+

  • Turner got caught playing paddy cake on a 3rd-and-2 screen, allowing his defender to get off his block and make the play for the stop.
  • Struggled some creating push for the run to his side and was beat for a run stuff outside as he didn’t seal off his block.
  • Didn’t have huge issues but was also not as smooth as he’s been in other games.

Royce Freeman: C

  • Freeman ran tough, and even if his stats were underwhelming, he used all of his power down on the goal line for a touchdown and on a 3rd-and-1 conversion where he outmuscled two defenders to get past the sticks.
  • Struggled to break any runs in the first quarter while seeing a lot of eight and nine men in the box which didn’t make his life easy.
  • As the game wore on, he showed some nice feet, making plays out of nothing on multiple occasions, managing to wiggle his way outside when it seemed Arizona had him dead to rights in the backfield.

Emmanuel Sanders: A

  • Sanders was a touchdown factory, first throwing one to Courtland Sutton and then hauling in a score on a 64-yard deep post where the safety just lost track of him.
  • No. 10 looked fast all game and even showed off his wheels on a quick toss that he took for 20 yards outside.
  • Lost outside leverage to Peterson, allowing the Broncos one interception but was a huge playmaker in this one.

Demaryius Thomas: C+

  • Thomas’ production was far from mind-blowing, but he did come up big on three different third-down conversions and made nice plays on the ball.
  • Showed a developing chemistry with his QB on a scramble drill, working back to the ball and getting open for a nice conversion.
  • Was unable to break through on a 3rd-and-2 screen that was set up nicely, just unable to break the tackle and get to the sticks.
  • Dropped a sideline pass on an out-route as well, but played a solid game none the less.

Courtland Sutton: B-

  • Sutton’s big play came on his touchdown grab for 28 yards, where even if he was wide open, he still made a great catch stretching out to bring in the score.
  • Couldn’t haul in an out-route where it seemed like the pass was leading him to perfection.
  • Was unlucky not to produce more, as he had the CB beet deep but was underthrown. Also forced a pass interference flag on down in the end zone that could’ve been another TD.

Jeff Heuerman: C+

  • Heuerman’s big play came on his block on Lindsay’s first big run, coming in to seal Chandler Jones and opening up a highway for the small back to run through.
  • Was flagged for offensive pass interferences down in the end zone, nullifying his touchdown grab.
  • The big tight end made another great block outside for Lindsay on the run that got nullified by Jano’s hold.
  • Did a nice job blocking outside for the running game.

Case Keenum: B-

  • Keenum was much better slinging the ball on the run, showing much-improved mobility to elude pressure.
  • Zip on the arm to the sideline was the best we’ve seen all season, as he threw a couple lasers to the sideline to convert some key third downs.
  • Took shots deep and was good if not great, missing Sutton on a deep route on an underthrown pass. Kept attacking early but eased up in the second half where he didn’t do much.
  • Efficiency on third down was lacking as he converted only 3-of-7 attempts, playing it conservatively once the Broncos were up big.
  • Did convert 3rd-and-6 on the run, keeping the chains moving.
  • Threw an interception, leading Sanders outside as his wideout was beat to the sideline, a bad throw but not entirely on the QB.
  • A mostly efficient, game-manager type performance.

Other noteworthy offensive performances:

Andy Janovich: D

  • Jano didn’t have his best game as a blocker, getting flagged for holding on an unnecessary penalty, as Lindsay was already by him.
  • Allowed a run stuff as well up the B-gap just getting overpowered at the point of attack.

Special Teams: C

Special teams didn’t contribute much in this game good or bad.

The kick-return team pinned the Cardinals back on the first two kickoffs with standout Joseph Jones making a nice tackle.

Punter Colby Wadman was efficient with two of his six punts landing inside the Cardinals own 20, and Brandon McManus made all his attempts when called on.

The return game still hasn’t gotten started.

Coaching: A

With the play calling heavily aided by two defensive touchdowns and a big early lead, Bill Musgrave was able to run more than pass, and limited Keenum to short throws and boot plays early, which seemed to work nicely.

We saw more screens and a trick play that worked perfectly in a simplified plan.

The run game didn’t take off, but Musgrave stayed committed, even against loaded boxes.

Joe Woods’ defense played on fire, in a much more aggressive game plan. He utilized more press coverage looks, and Simmons utilized to cover the slot. In the second half, Woods was able to unleash the dogs getting after Rosen and creating tons of pressure.

Vance Joseph kept things simple in the second half and avoided any major mistakes, managing the game nicely.

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