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Broncos Game Grades: Russell Wilson can’t spark the Denver offense in a 42-17 loss to the Lions

Henry Chisholm Avatar
December 19, 2023

The Broncos had a rough weekend.

After winning six of their previous seven games, the Broncos fell 42-17 to the Detroit Lions on Saturday night. They now sit at 7-7 and probably need to win their final three games to earn a spot in the playoffs.

Here’s how the offense graded out…


Russell Wilson: D+ — Wilson hit Jerry Jeudy on a slant for 40 yards on the Broncos’ first offensive play of the game, which should have set Denver up for an early lead. It didn’t. He tried to flip a ball to Adam Trautman on a screen but was hit and fumbled instead.

Denver’s problems were much larger than their quarterback, but Wilson wasn’t able to save his team from a rough outing. He completed 18 of his 32 passes for 223 yards and a touchdown. He snuck in another touchdown, too.

Running Backs

Javonte Williams: D — The Broncos’ lack of production in the running game has more to do with their offensive line than their running backs, but Williams’ results weren’t great.

His 2.25 yards per carry was the third-worst mark in a single game in his career. Pro Football Focus credited him with zero yards after contact for the third time in his career. The first was Week 4 in Chicago when he only carried the ball twice. The other was last week against the Chargers.

Williams is recovering from a torn ACL, so expecting his A game this season was a bad idea, but he seems to have lost steam in the second half of the season. PFR credits him with one broken tackle in the past six games. He led the NFL with 31 broken tackles as a rookie. His 3.7 yards per carry this year is by far his worst mark, trailing 4.4 in 2021 and 4.3 in 2022.

Samaje Perine: B+ — Perine’s effectiveness in the passing game dipped on Saturday—his 11 receiving yards tied for his second-fewest this season—but he took a step forward in the rushing game. He picked up 37 yards on six carries.

Jaleel McLaughlin: C+ — An early screen to McLaughlin was blown up before the ball even got to him. Ge caught two more passes for eight yards each and his two carries gained a yard each.

Tight ends

Adam Trautman: B — Trautman had his lightest workload of the season (30 snaps), but he also provided his longest catch of the season (24 yards).

Chris Manhertz: C+ — The veteran tight end had a rare rough rep on the first play of the Broncos’ second drive when his man was able to control the gaps on both sides of him. He was steady for the most part, though.

Lucas Krull: C+ — The Broncos know what they want from their 25-year-old tight end: production in the passing game. Krull played 29 snaps on Saturday and the Broncos threw the ball on 23 of them. His only catch was an 18-yarder.

Offensive Linemen

Garett Bolles: C- — Bolles let his man by him a few times on Saturday, including on a quick spin move in the first quarter, but the defenders never laid hands on the quarterback.

Ben Powers: D+ — Powers was beaten inside off the snap for an easy sack on a second-quarter 3rd & 13, which forced a punt after the Lions’ first touchdown drive. He gave up a couple of other pressures, too. When the Broncos opened their second drive with a run, a handful of things went wrong, but Powers’ missed block was the first problem.

Lloyd Cushenberry III: B — Cushenberry generally played well on Saturday, particularly in pass protection. By Pro Football Focus’ tracking, he was perfect in pass protection for the seventh time this season.

Quinn Meinerz: B- — Meinerz lined up offsides on a short-yardage touchdown run, which pushed the Broncos back five yards and eventually cost them four points. Outside of that play, Meinerz was solid. He didn’t lose in pass protection. He also had a stellar tackle after Russell Wilson’s fumble.

Mike McGlinchey: C — McGlinchey let Aidan Hutchinson hit Russell Wilson in the Broncos’ second drive of the game but largely held his own against the second-year first-overall pick.

Wide Receivers

Courtland Sutton: B — Another week, another solid performance from Courtland Sutton. If anything his five catches for 71 yards could be a disappointment, considering he had a touchdown in 10 of his 13 games before Saturday. The ball only hit the ball one time when it was thrown Sutton’s way.

Jerry Jeudy: B — The 24-year-old receiver sparked the Broncos’ offense with a 40-yard gain on a slant on its first play of the game, but Denver couldn’t convert that play into points. He had two other catches for 34 yards.

Marvin Mims Jr.: C+ — Mims didn’t have a catch, but he didn’t have much of a chance on either of his targets. His only offensive catch was a jet sweep that he took for 11 yards on the Broncos’ second offensive play.

Lil’Jordan Humphrey: A- — Humphrey caught three balls for 16 yards, both of which were season highs. His touchdown—a great grab—was his second of the season. Humphrey was as solid as ever in the blocking game, including when he made a strong block in space on Marvin Mims’ jet sweep.

(Click here for the defensive grades.)

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