The Broncos’ comeback bid wasn’t enought as they lost 17-10 to the Tennessee Titans on Sunday. Denver has now lost five of their last six games and holds a 3-6 record.
Here’s how the Broncos graded out…
QB Russell Wilson – C-
Russell Wilson posted the second-highest passing total of his Broncos career and he did it without three of his top four receivers. That’s why his grade is so high.
But a lot went wrong. He only completed half of his passes. He was jumpy—probably because he was hit 18 times in the game—and a little quick to leave the pocket on occasion. When Dalton Risner let a rusher by him on a 3rd & 9, Wilson bailed out the back of a pocket even though Risner was able to recover. The same thing happened with a Latavius Murray block.
The protections were a little messy again, too. The most notable example was when the Titans aligned a bunch of players on the line of scrimmage and Wilson didn’t decipher who was coming. They brought a zero blitz that was fairly predictable, the defensive backs were lined up across from who they were guarding and the others rushed. But the Broncos weren’t prepared. They double-teamed a rusher on the left side and one on the right was left off. There was no option but to throw the ball away.
Wilson’s best workcame on the last game of the drive, when he guided the offense to within 21 yards of the end zone. He had a great fourth-down run to keep the series alive.
A 21-for-42 performance worth 286 yards, a touchdown and an interception is nothing special. More of the blame lies on the offensive line and receivers. Wilson avoids the D range.
RB Melvin Gordon – C+
Melvin Gordon almost fumbled twice, but he did not. And he doesn’t lose points for giving me a heart attack. On the ground, Gordon couldn’t get anything going except for on one stretch run. He caught four passes for 46 yards and one of those catches was crucial to the Broncos’ last-ditch effort to tie the game up in the fourth quarter.
RB Latavius Murray – C
Latavius Murray does not have an easy job. The Broncos hand him the rock and tell him to run straight ahead, knowing there’s very little chance a hole will appear in front of him. Murray did his best with what he was given, including when he did a Derrick Henry impression in the second quarter, breaking tackles for a first down.
WR Courtland Sutton – B-
Six catches for 66 yards is a solid day for a starting wide receiver. Taking 11 targets to get there is less than ideal. Throw in a drop and the grade falls even more. But two of Sutton’s catches were spectacular, including the one-handed grab by his earhole as he fell forward. He made a big catch to get the Broncos within 30 yards of the end zone on their final drive with a big-gainer.
WR Kendall Hinton – B
The 25-year-old receiver had his best outing of the season, but that’s to be expected when you’re on the field for 96% of your team’s offensive snaps. Hinton made an impact immediately after he subbed into the game when he caught a corner route for a 35-yard gain on third down. His blocking left plenty to be desired, including when he made a strange decision to crash inside on a run for a loss.
WR Jalen Virgil – A-
The rookie’s 66-yard touchdown grab is the only play of his 24 that got him into the stat sheet, but in a 10-point performance it’s enough to get him into the A range.
TE Greg Dulcich – C-
The rookie came back to Earth on Sunday. He didn’t sit in the right place on two occasions, which led to two incompletions. He missed a block on a screen. He made a couple of really good blocks, including when he double-teamed one defender then extended to the next man to set the edge on an 11-yard run from Melvin Gordon. His lone catch for 11 yards is a disappointment.
LT Calvin Anderson – D-
Calvin Anderson provided the key block on Latavius Murray’s longest run of the day but doesn’t have much else to point too. He gave up the sack that virtually ended the game. He gave up an important pressure on the previous drive. He gave up a stuff. He was pushed backward on one pass play and the rusher was able to jump up and swat the pass away. He could’ve given up another sack, but Russ bailed him out early in the second quarter.
LG Dalton Risner – C+
Dalton Risner gave up a sack, which knocks his grade down, but he also had a pancake in pass protection and a great block on a screen in the fourth quarter.
C Graham Glasgow – D
Even before his injury, Sunday was a rough day for Graham Glasgow. He gave up a few pressures, including one that forced a throwaway from the Broncos’ end zone. He was beat clean on the first play of the game for a tackle for loss. He was late to get off of at least one double-team in the running game.
C Luke Wattenberg – F
Two botched exchanges happened after Luke Wattenberg subbed in for Graham Glasgow, one under center and one out of shotgun. On his second play in the game, the Broncos called a QB sneak behind him. He was stood up and the play failed. (It worked on the second try.) He left a double-team in pass protection when he was the primary blocker, creating a baffling sack.
RG Quinn Meinerz – C+
The second-year guard made a couple of mistakes. He was called for a hold. He didn’t handle a stunt well on a big play to Kendall Hinton and left Russell Wilson to take a hit. He tried to push a defender off to Luke Wattenberg but the rookie could handle him and he got to the quarterback. That should be expected. There was still plenty of good—like his push in the run game—but a few bad plays drag his grade down.
RT Quinn Bailey – F
The practice squad tackle subbed into the game after Billy Turner’s injury and things didn’t go well. He gave up a couple of pressures, including one that should have been a sack but Russell Wilson was able to escape. Another pressure was bailed out by an offsides call. He was part of a miscommunication on a stretch run, when he an Eric Tomlinson double-teamed a defender but then both released him. The result was a stuff.
DL Dre’Mont Jones – B+
The Broncos experimented with Dre’Mont Jones on the edge of the defense but the results were poor. Tackles didn’t respect his speed and were able to stuff his inside moves. Still, it was a solid day. Jones didn’t record any significant snaps, but he was important to the run defense. He provided a pressure up the middle that forced and incompletion and a punt.
DL D.J. Jones – A
The Broncos shut down Derrick Henry and DJ Jones was in the dead center of the effort. He didn’t put up any flashy stats but he consistently collapsed the line and set plays up for his teammates. The most notable example was Nik Bonitto’s tackle for loss. Jones was the only player who earned a pressure on the Titans’ half-ending touchdown drive.
DL Jonathan Harris – B+
Jonathan Harris was called up from the practice squad to play against the Titans and he was promoted to the 53-man roster a couple of days later for his performance. He filled his gap on every play, including when he stuffed Derrick Henry to start the Titans’ second drive. He provided the pressure that should have resulted in a Kareem Jackson interception.
DL Mike Purcell – A
The big play for Purcell was jumping on the fumbled exchange on the Malik Willis read option. He was solid throughout the game, but the heads-up play and turnover were crucial.
OLB Jacob Martin – A-
Jacob Martin contributed the Broncos’ only sack in his debut. He almost had another on the first drive of the game but he was called offside. He looked like he was onside to me. He was crucial in setting the edge against Derrick Henry.
OLB Jonathan Cooper – B-
Jonathan Cooper is a little bit light for a game against Derrick Henry. Tight ends were able to get ahold of him consistently. But his speed helped him chase down runs from the backside and wash out some flaws. He had a great rush on one of the balls that Kareem Jackson should have intercepted.
OLB Nik Bonitto – B+
The rookie’s big play was his tackle for loss, when he held off the tackle with one arm and pounced when Derrick Henry was chased his direction. He should’ve had a sack on the next play but couldn’t bring the quarterback down. His pass rush came and went, and was notably absent before halftime. He dropped in coverage late in the game and didn’t look totally lost. The receiver was able to get behind him on a post route, but the rookie was fluid moving backward.
LB Josey Jewell – A
Jewell had a couple of great hits one-on-one against Drrick Henry late in the game. One set up the 3rd & 2 that Malik Willis fumbled away. Another one came on the final drive. It was a first-down stuff and a couple of plays later the Titans were forced to kick a field goal.
LB Alex Singleton – B
Alex Singleton was second on the team with eight tackles, but much of his work came in the passing game. He gave up a third-down conversion on a slot slant from a tight end on the final drive, and the tight end got behind him for a 41-yard gain a couple of plays later. There was plenty to like too, though. He had a great third-down cover at the sticks in the second quarter. He forced another incompletion before the half when Treylon Burks crossed into his zone.
LB Jonas Griffith – B
The most notable play of Griffith’s day was probably his coverage of a corner route. He chased the receiver to the boundary and left a tiny window to complete the pass. He was solid against the run, with no notable mistakes.
CB Pat Surtain II – A
Pat Surtain was on the field? You would’ve never known through the first three quarters. He showed up on the Titans’ last drive, when Ryan Tannehill tried to throw at him. Surtain jumped in like a cat and batted the ball away. Another clean performance.
CB Damarri Mathis – C
It’s tough to complain about the rookie cornerback’s day. He was rarely beaten in coverage. He had a great cover on the sideline on the second play of the game. He put together a really solid performance.
There was one big mistake though: he slipped and tripped PJ Locke on the Titan’s flea-flicker touchdown. A decent cover there may have changed the game.
CB K’Waun Williams – A-
K’Waun Williams was all over the field on Sudnay He had a great third-down breakup at the end of the first quarter, when he closed a seven-yard cushion and knocked away a slot slant on 3rd & 2. He would’ve had another PBU if not for a bad pass in the second quarter. He made a notable hit on Derrick Henry in the flat, but couldn’t bring him down. It’s tough to wrap up when one arm is a club.
CB Essang Bassey – B-
Essang Bassey ended the Titans’ second drive with a great cover at the sticks, but didn’t make many plays the rest of the way. He didn’t find his man in zone coverage when the Titans got across midfield on their final drive before halftime.
S Kareem Jackson – D+
This is the toughest grade of the week. He crashed in for a great pass breakup at the sticks in the middle of the field but couldn’t hold on for the interception. He gets points for that play. He doesn’t get points for another dropped interception late in the game when he wasn’t needed to prevent a completion.
A couple of big mistakes stand out: He gave up a touchdown on a corner route. He didn’t quite have the closing speed to make a play on the ball. It was the second time in two games that he has given up a touchdown on a corner route. He also missed a tackle on the 61-yard, flea-flicker touchdown.
S PJ Locke – B
The fill-in safety made a couple of good plays, like when he crashed in to help stop a bubble screen and when he just about picked off a post route his was covering. For the most part, he had a quiet day.
K Brandon McManus – B+
He made his extra point. He made his 39-yard field goal attempt. It was an easy day to be the Broncos’ kicker.
P Corliss Waitman – D+
A 58-yard punt doesn’t save Waitman’s day. He kicked the ball nine times and averaged less than 46 yards per punt. None of the nine punts pinned the Titans inside their 20. One punt got to the 20 exactly but it was only 28 yards.
PR Montrell Washington – C+
Three returns. 14 yards. Not much to grade.