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Broncos Game Grades: PJ Locke seals a 19-17 win over the Packers

Henry Chisholm Avatar
October 24, 2023

DENVER, Colo. — A win!

The Broncos are back in the win column with a 19-17 win over the Packers in Denver on Sunday. They improved their record to 2-5, with a home matchup against the Chiefs looming on Sunday.

Here’s how the Broncos graded out…

Offense

Quarterbacks

Russell Wilson: B+ — Wilson took what the defense gave him. When the Packers played off coverage, Wilson whipped a quick pass in to his receiver before the defense could crash in. He was clinical, only missing two throws all day. He probably could have found a couple more open receivers, but even when he didn’t see Jerry Jeudy break free before halftime, he rolled out of the pocket and found him on the sideline a couple of seconds later. 

Wilson finished with 20 completions on 29 passes for 194 yards and a touchdown. He also had a 21-yard run. He didn’t turn the ball over and wasn’t sacked.

Running Backs

Javonte Williams: A- — Williams was a workhorse for the Broncos on Sunday. He carried the ball 15 times for 82 yards. His longest run of the day went for 21 yards, and he broke a tackle in the backfield to make it happen. Unfortunately, Williams’ touchdown was called back.

Jaleel McLaughlin: A — Five carries for 45 yards is a great rate. McLaughlin’s 23-yard run to create a third-and-reasonable stole the show, but his best run of the night might have been when he made two men miss to turn a three-yard loss into a two-yard gain in the red zone.

Samaje Perine: B+ — Perine played a diminished role but picke up five yards on each of his carries and 31 yards over the course of his three catches. He made an underrated play before halftime to get out of bounds and save a timeout with less than 30 seconds on the clock.

Michael Burton: C- — Burton’s only touch was a fullback dive that lost yards. The play wasn’t his fault, but there wasn’t much to balance it out.

Wide Receivers

Courtland Sutton: A- — Sutton played like a No. 1 receiver on Sunday. When the Packers played off coverage, Russell Wilson hit him underneath on a hitch or a slant. Four of Sutton’s six catches were first downs. His 76 yards were the second-best mark of his season. Somehow, Sutton has now scored five touchdowns in seven games. He also had a great block on a 21-yard run early in the second half.

Jerry Jeudy: B — Jeudy had a good, clean game on Sunday. He caught a couple of passes underneath and found space on the sideline on a scramble drill for 18 yards earliy in the second half. He picked up 16 yards on a drag on the game-winning drive. He finished with five catches for 64 yards.

Marvin Mims Jr.: D — Mims’ first punt return went for 12 yards, a solid gain. His only other touch was the doomed reverse that should have lost eight or nine yards, but lost 11 because he doubled back.

Lil’Jordan Humphrey: C — Humphrey made a crack block that helped spring a 15-yard run in the first quarter, but he was quiet considering he was on the field for 20 plays.

Brandon Johnson: C — Johnson didn’t register a catch in his 20 snaps. But he drew a deep pass interference and had a great block to spring Javonte Williams for 11 yards.

Tight Ends

Adam Trautman: C+ — It seems like Trautman always has a bunch of pros and a bunch of cons. He had a great block on the touchdown run that was called back. He drew a holding penalty by winning his route. He set a great pick that freed Courtland Sutton for the touchdown. Trautman also missed the block that led to the ugly reverse to Marvin Mims. 

Chris Manhertz: B- — It wasn’t always pretty, but Manhertz almost always got his job done. He made an important cut block on the 15-yard run in the first quarter. He would have been the key blocker on the Javonte Williams’ touchdown run, but it was called back. Later on, he got just enough of his man to open a lane for Williams to pick up 11 yards.

Nate Adkins: B — Adkins brought in a one-handed catch and picked up a few yards. He had a lead block that helped the Broncos pick up a first down on the winning drive. He had another good block to seal the edge earlier in the game. That’s a good day, considering he was only on the field for six snaps.

Offensive Linemen

Garett Bolles: B — If not for a holding penalty, Bolles would have earned an A. He didn’t have many highlight blocks, but he was clean from start to finish… except for the penalty.

Ben Powers: A — Powers made a great block to open a lane for a 23-yard run and another one on a pull in the third quarter. He was clean from start to finish. This was his best performance of the season.

Lloyd Cushenberry III: B — As always, Cushenberry was stellar on the move. He made a great block deep downfield on Jaleel McLaughlin’s 23-yard run, and a couple of others at the second level. Kenny Clark drove him back on one run, but the rest of the line did its job, so Javonte Williams was able to bail him out.

Quinn Meinerz: C — Meinerz had a down game on Sunday. He gave up a stuff on the first run of the game. He gave up a red-zone pressure early in the second quarter. He lost his footing on the failed fullback dive. Meinerz was solid the rest of the game, and he had a good block on a 21-yard run, but he wasn’t as active as usual, mostly because of the plays that were called.

Mike McGlinchey: D+ — McGlinchey had his moments. He had a great block on Kenny Clark that helped open an 11-yard run in the first quarter and opened up another lane for a 21-yard run later on. But there were too many ugly moments. He whiffed on a block on the second drive that blew up a run. He was called for a false start. By Pro Football Focus’ count, the Broncos allowed eight pressures, and McGlinchey allowed five of them. He was credited for the only hit on Russell Wilson.

Quinn Bailey: D — Bailey negated a touchdown by being called for holding. But it was a tough call. He made a great block and probably didn’t deserve the penalty. Once again, Bailey worked exclusively as a sixth lineman for the Broncos.

Defense

Defensive Linemen

Zach Allen: A- — For not having a sack or a tackle for loss, Allen played about as well as he could have. On the first run of the game, Allen defeated a double-team and disrupted the play. He penetrated and hit Jordan Love on a throw short of the sticks on the first third-down of the game, forcing a punt. He penetrated on a toss and almost came away with a tackle for loss. He made a couple of important tackles on the final drive. 

DJ Jones: A — Jones was in the backfield all day. On the second play of the game, he penetrated and picked up a tackle for loss. On a couple of occasions, Jones got into the backfield and couldn’t get the running back down, but he set up his teammates to make the play.

Mike Purcell: B- — Purcell did well to hold his ground for the most part. He worked his way into the backfield on a couple of occasions. His big play was when he drew a hold in the third quarter.

Jonathan Harris: D+ — Harris was wiped out a couple times too often on Sunday. He didn’t make any splash plays to make up for it.

Matt Henningsen: D+ — Henningsen made a couple of tackles in his 18 snaps, but didn’t make much noise. On one eight-yard run in the third quarter, he was pushed five yards downfield.

Outside Linebackers

Jonathon Cooper: B- — Cooper had a couple of nice rushes and a hit on Jordan Love in the third, but you’d like more from him as a pass rusher. He got caught on a pick near the end of the first quarter and gave up an eight-yard catch. He was solid in the run game.

Nik Bonitto: C- — For the second consecutive game, Bonitto didn’t have a sack on Sunday. He had a couple of moments, like a great cover on a running back in the third quarter and a third-down pressure around the edge. His speed showed up in pursuit, but in general, he didn’t provide as much pass-rush production as you’d hope.

Baron Browning: D+ — Browning had a handful of good rushes—a sign of positive things to come—but never got a hit on the quarterback. He was also called for a pair of offsides penalties.

Ronnie Perkins: C — This week it was Perkins who got caught on a toss crack. He also registered a tackle for loss when the entire defense sniffed out a screen. Later on, he took up a second blocker on the edge, which freed up Josey Jewell to blow up an outside run.

Inside Linebackers

Alex Singleton: C+ — Singleton was a step away from making a couple of plays in coverage. One was when he was playing in Cover 2, and couldn’t quite move back to the other side of his zone in time to make a play on the ball. He played man coverage on a running back who leaked to the flat and gave up three yards before making the tackle. It wasn’t a big deal… except that it was third down.

In the running game, Singleton made one big mistake. He missed a tackle on the final drive that turned a six-yard gain to a 27-yard gain. Outside of that, he was solid. He sniffed out a run late in the third. He blew up a run on a blitz on 3rd & 3 in the fourth. He cleaned up a tackle for loss that Josey Jewell set up. He had a great hit short of the sticks in the fourth quarter on 3rd & 7. The big mistake counteracts the 59 minutes of solid play, though.

Josey Jewell: B — Jewell’s ability to stop ball-carriers in their tracks was evident on Sunday. That’s a testament to him being in the right position often. Jewell had a great blitz that flushed the quarterback from the pocket for a short gain. He should’ve drawn a holding penalty too but didn’t get the call.

Drew Sanders: D- — Drew Sanders’ only notable play in his four snaps was when he missed a tackle on a scramble up the middle on 3rd & 6.

Cornerbacks

Pat Surtain II: B — By his standards, Surtain had a tough game. He gave up a 23-yard crosser in the third quarter. He got caught in traffic when covering a tight end who converted a 4th & 1. He was called for holding on a third down. A touchdown that could have been called an interception was the kicker. Outside of those plays, Surtain was great. But those plays hold him back to a modest grade.

Fabian Moreau: A- — Moreau started over Damarri Mathis and played a great game. His two best plays were a great cover on a deep ball 38 yards down the sideline, and another perfect play on a fade in the end zone in the third quarter. 

Ja’Quan McMillian: A- — I’m not holding the touchdown against him. He was in great coverage and the tipped ball just happened to go right into his man’s hands. He made a little mistake cutting inside his blocker instead of outside on a screen, but it didn’t cost the team. In coverage, McMillian was stellar. He was only targeted three times and he gave up eight total yards. Four of them came on the fluky touchdown.

Safeties

Justin Simmons: A — Simmons couldn’t quite get under a deep ball for an interception. At the end of the game, he was in perfect coverage downfield, which allowed PJ Locke to make the game-winning interception.

Kareem Jackson: D — The big knock on Jackson is the 15-yard penalty and ejection that knocked him out of the game. He had a couple of nice moments, like a tackle short of the sticks that forced the first punt of the day and a PBU on a hitch. But the penalty is the story.

PJ Locke: A+ — No need to explain this grade.

Special Teams

Wil Lutz: A — 4-for-4 with an extra point. That’s a clean A. I need a longer kick than 52 for the A+, but he’s pushing for it.

Riley Dixon: C — A 44-yard average is fine, but you’d hope for more.

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