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Broncos Game Grades: Analyzing the individual performances in Denver's loss to the Rams

Andre Simone Avatar
October 15, 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 much better effort, the Broncos still lost 23-20 to arguably the best team in the NFL, the Los Angeles Rams. We broke down all the studs and duds from the game.

Standouts from the game

Bradley Chubb: A

  • Chubb had a breakout game, playing strong in all phases and finally closing some plays in the backfield with three crucial sacks.
  • He showed off his great motor, playing relentlessly, running down Jared Goff and not letting him escape his grasp.
  • Created lots of pressure with an additional QB hurry on Von Miller’s half sack.
  • Did a great job against two offensive tackles that had allowed one sack combined all season.
  • Struggled to contain Todd Gurley on an outside run to his side, allowing the RB to run for 26 yards.
  • Lost contain on Goff’s big third down scamper for a first down.

Chris Harris Jr.: A

  • Harris was crucial in holding the Rams devastating passing offense below 200 yards.
  • Allowed only one reception—a crosser to Robert Woods—for 12 yards all game, despite being targeted five times.
  • Played the ball masterfully, locking down Woods and Cooper Kupp even on tough crossing routes, showing speed to cover the entire field.
  • 25’s only real blemish was losing Woods on a jet sweep while having to come across the formation. He was dynamite otherwise.

Emmanuel Sanders: B

  • Sanders had a good game, though it’ll be defined by his taunting penalty that cost the Broncos the game.
  • Got open on double move running a slant and then coming back to the ball but couldn’t break a tackle to convert 3rd-and-6 on the second drive.
  • Had a nice run on a quick screen for 11 yards, navigating traffic, then did it again for another nine yards.
  • Made a monster play on his deep catch that was almost a TD, winning one-on-one on a go-route and making a beautiful grab over his shoulder.
  • Caught another touchdown as he got open over the middle and then fought to get through to the end zone, putting Denver within reach.
  • Bobbled a pass to the sideline and couldn’t haul in the reception with three minutes remaining in the game.

Von Miller: A

  • Von played a fine game, getting plenty of pressure and finally adding 1.5 sacks while hurrying Goff into a couple others, with six total pressures.
  • Fought through blocks and was relentless in closing down plays.
  • Was strong against the ground game, too, chasing down runs on the backside for two run stuffs.
  • Targeted on a couple passes; he allowed a 3rd-and-10 completion in underneath zone coverage, and was isolated on a jet sweep, getting outrun in space as he didn’t hold contain.
  • Miller had a highly impactful game.


Domata Peko: C+

  • Peko struggled against the run, as Denver’s entire front was pushed around early on.
  • The biggest example was Gurley’s 29-yard run where he was moved out of the A-gap opening up a highway for the RB.
  • Did better in the second half, stuffing lanes, tallying a run stuff and assisting two more.
  • With six tackles in the game, if only he’d have held Gurley at the spot he originally made contact, he could’ve made a few more stops.

Derek Wolfe: C

  • Wolfe was sidelined for portions of the game, appearing in a season-low 60 percent of the snaps.
  • Gurley broke his arm tackle on the first big run on the second drive to get major gain.
  • Got back at the RB with a nice tackle on a short gain in the second half in an outing that lacked impact.

Adam Gotsis: D+

  • Gotsis was a bit absent against the run and only had a hurry against the pass in a ho-hum game.
  • Couldn’t break through the line allowing a 3rd-and-1 conversion by Gurley.
  • Made a great play on a run stop, submarining his blocker down in the red zone, helping hold the Rams to a field goal on the final drive.

Brandon Marshall: D

  • Marshall was part of the issue against the run, not closing on runs quickly enough and allowing some big gains.
  • On a blitz up the middle, he couldn’t shed his block to make the pressure count.
  • Did have a nice run stuff up the middle; stopping Gurley for one yard as he burst through the A-gap.

Todd Davis: C

  • Davis’ highlight of the game was playing great coverage on Gurley, forcing a huge incompletion in the end zone and blanketing him on a short four-yard gainer in the red area.
  • Against the run, he was active, and made some tackles but was also guilty on a few big plays.
  • Was completely fooled by the quick snap on fourth-and-inches, allowing an easy touchdown by Gurley as he was blocked out the picture.
  • Missed another tackle up the middle and was lost on a few of the big gains on the ground.

Darian Stewart: B-

  • Stewart played solid in all phases.
  • Even if he wasn’t always perfect, he was heavily involved and showed himself to be a solid last line of defense.
  • Flew in downhill for a couple good tackles on Gurley, holding him to five-yard gains on both.
  • Did a decent job in coverage, allowing only two receptions for 21 yards and was a sure tackler against the pass—horse tackle flag on Kupp aside.
  • On the negative side, was blocked out the picture on a 21-yard Gurley run and couldn’t get past the RBs block on a clear third-down opportunity to create pressure on a blitz.
  • Pulled down an odd interception that was his highlight.
  • Not many huge plays but a strong game.

Justin Simmons: B

  • Simmons wasn’t seen a lot in this one, a testament to how he kept most of the Rams’ deep routes in check as the deep safety.
  • Did let Cooks get underneath him for the longest reception of the game, but he wasn’t fully responsible.
  • Had a nice tackle in space, holding Woods short of the sticks on a third-down stop at the end of the half.

Bradley Roby: C

  • Roby struggled early and was responsible for some of the few big plays in the air from LA.
  • Was burned deep by Cooks, and then Woods on 3rd-and-6 crosser that went for over 20.
  • His worst play came as he didn’t react quickly enough and couldn’t free himself from his block on a quick screen that went for 18 yards on a crucial 3rd-and-13 in the fourth quarter.
  • Did make a terrific tackle flying downhill and running Josh Reynolds down across the formation to stop him for a loss.
  • His play of the game came in off coverage as he outran Cooks deep, shutting him down and forcing an incompletion.
  • After a rough game last week, he played really well in the second half.

Other noteworthy defensive performances:

Shane Ray: B

  • Ray did a nice job in pursuit coming off the backside to tackle Gurley after a four-yard gain.
  • Made a huge play coming up the middle in a NASCAR front to get pressure up the middle.

Zach Kerr: D

  • Kerr had some missed opportunities; almost getting Gurley in the backfield for a TFL but just couldn’t close him down.
  • Struggled to get off his block, allowing big Gurley run up the middle on 3rd-and-1.

Will Parks: B+

  • Parks played great coverage over the middle on several occasions.
  • Locked down in the end zone and helped hold the Rams to a field goal.
  • An unsung hero for the defense.

Tremaine Brock: B-

  • Brock allowed a reception early but was terrific in coverage outside after that, including getting a pass deflection that led to Stewart’s interception.
  • Struggled a bit against the run, taking a bad angle and getting beat off the edge on 3rd-and-1 by Gurley for a big run.
  • Also called for an iffy pass interference in the end zone on an inaccurate fade pass.


Garett Bolles: C-

  • Bolles was flagged, once again, for an avoidable hold as Keenum settled for a quick dump off, killing the Broncos best drive.
  • Allowed pressure off the edge contributing to Keenum being flushed out of pocket on 3rd-and-7 and leading to an Aaron Donald sack in pursuit.
  • Like most of the line, he wasn’t great run blocking.

Ron Leary: D+

  • Before his injury that held him to only 57.6 percent of the snaps, Leary struggled some with the Rams stalwarts on the D-line.
  • Was just beat by Donald’s speed on 2nd-and-9, forcing Keenum out the pocket.
  • Again couldn’t contain Donald’s combination of speed and power inside, allowing a quarterback hit.

Matt Paradis: B

  • Paradis did a great job blocking on Booker’s 3rd-and-5 run out of the gun. He got to the second level and opened up a huge hole.
  • Wasn’t great run blocking up the middle but played clean in pass-pro against a talented Rams line.
  • Will be credited for a sack on 3rd-and-7 by Donald, but the play was really in pursuit after Keenum was flushed out of the pocket.

Max Garcia: C

  • Garcia struggled a bit early on; was just stood up and tossed by Donald allowing a run stop and then called for an outrageous hold as he tackled the Rams star DT to avoid a sack.
  • Playing LG for Leary, he allowed another pressure up the middle in the red zone forcing Keenum to throw it away as he got out the pocket.
  • Those plays aside, he was better in the second half in pass protection.

Billy Turner: C+

  • Turner struggled a bit in run blocking but was clean in pass-pro and had one of the better games out of the Broncos offensive starters.
  • Michael Brockers blew him away off his inside shoulder, forcing a run stop on 2nd-and-7 in the first quarter.
  • Was simply stood up by Donald down in the red zone, giving up yet another run stop inside on Freeman.

Royce Freeman: D

  • Freeman had his worst game as a pro, couldn’t get loose on any single run and struggled to win the edge outside.
  • Had a couple strong runs up the middle as the game went on for five yards a piece, breaking tackles inside.
  • A rough outing as the line didn’t help him much either.

Demaryius Thomas: B

  • Thomas had a modest statistical game but drew a big PI flag and made an outstanding over the shoulder catch on a throw that he had to slow down to get with a defender all over him.
  • Did a nice job getting open on a comeback to the sideline for a first down in the red zone.
  • Got open masterfully off the line and showed excellent footwork to drag his toes and haul in a really tough TD catch to end the game.

Courtland Sutton: B-

  • Sutton had some great flash plays including a 41-yard gain by coming back on a deep ball and bringing down a tough contested grab.
  • Forced a pass interference as well in a fade down in the end zone.
  • Committed a bad penalty, blocking too early and nullifying a Lindsay TD reception.
  • Couldn’t bring down a pass in traffic on 3rd-and-7 of the opening drive but an encouraging game overall.

Jeff Heuerman: C-

  • Heuerman caught a couple short passes but couldn’t win on a fade down in the end zone against a much smaller corner that jammed him.
  • Slipped on the one shallow route on 4th-and-3, leading to a sack.
  • Wasn’t dominant as a blocker, by any means, but avoided any major negative plays as well.

Case Keenum: B-

  • Keenum missed a couple throws, but his accuracy was pretty good as he gave the Broncos a chance to win aside from his costly pick.
  • Struggled on third down, converting only 1-of-7 attempts for first downs in the air—he did manage to convert one on the run.
  • Threw it much better down the field with three nice deep-ball completions. Placement was still not perfect but he was willing to take shots, and it paid off.
  • Had a bad interception well within field goal range, forcing a pass to his tight end who was covered up and had help over the top. A really costly play.
  • Did a better job taking what the ‘D’ gave him, getting the ball out on time, throwing better on the run and handling pressure nicely.
  • Did a nice job leading the Broncos in the two-minute drill at the end of the game—wasn’t as good in the same scenario at the end of the half.

Other noteworthy offensive performances:

Phillip Lindsay: C+

  • Lindsay ran well in space, impacting the game more as a receiver then he did with his four carries in the run game.
  • Was clutch fighting for extra yardage to convert first downs, his best coming on 3rd-and-2, the only successful third down the Broncos executed through their passing game.
  • A good outing but not the special type of performance we’ve become accustomed to from Lindsay.

Devontae Booker: B-

  • Booker played a solid game and made the most of his touches, fighting for extra yardage and averaging 7.25 yards per touch.
  • Had a nice run up the middle on a draw to convert 3rd-and-5, showing good burst and vision.
  • His one negative play was when he got beat on the blitz, allowing a sack on 4th-and-3.

Connor McGovern: C+

  • Playing in a backup role and then thrust into the rest of the game, McGovern had a great block on 3rd-and-5, getting to the second level and opening up a massive hole.
  • Was one of the teams best run blockers, getting to the second level on multiple occasions and holding his own against a tough front.
  • Got bull rushed and out-leveraged allowing pressure up the middle forcing Keenum out the pocket on 3rd-and-7 leading to a Donald sack.

Special Teams: C-

Colby Wadman had a nice second punt, pinning the Rams within their own 10 but also allowed a 26-yard return and didn’t necessarily flip the field regularly.

Brandon McManus was solid but didn’t have to make any big kicks.

Coaching: B

Bill Musgrave implemented a simpler game plan, and it worked in spurts, though running early and often didn’t lead to the results he would’ve hoped.

It felt like receivers were still running too many double moves which put Keenum under unnecessary pressure.

Joe Woods developed another masterful game plan, playing more aggressively with more press coverage looks and was able to successfully stymy the Rams aerial attack. 

The run defense struggled mightily, but that’s more on the players who struggled to get off the line and tackle in space than it is the scheme.

Vance Joseph‘s team is still lacking consistent halftime adjustments, but this was a decent game for the head coach.

He went for it on 4th-and-3 at the end of the half and was maybe too aggressive, but overall the game plan was good, the team was motivated and played hard they just fell short. 

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