Sunday’s game against the Jets was the worst contest the Broncos have played since the eight-game losing streak last season.
The defense was laughably bad, once again showing why Denver shouldn’t have let go of Aqib Talib. The special teams was awful with Colby Wadman punting instead of Marquette King. The offensive performance was equally poor, rushing under 100 yards for the first time all season.
Still, there are three players that were able to improve their stock despite the ugly team performance, followed by three others were emblematic of Denver’s poor play on Sunday.
Demaryius Thomas: Ever since having an ugly performance against the Raiders, Demaryius Thomas has been playing much better. For the first time all season, he was able to cross the century mark for receiving yards, along with getting his second touchdown of the season. Thomas is also on pace to reach 80 receptions for the seventh straight season.
Rookie Receivers: Another stock on the rise is that of Denver’s rookie receivers. Courtland Sutton managed to get the first touchdown catch of his career and was close to making another one that would’ve made Sportscenter’s Top 10. Sutton is an athletic freak who is excellent at going up and getting 50-50 balls.
Fellow rookie DaeSean Hamilton also had a first, collecting his first catch for the Broncos. Hamilton was seen as one of the best pure slot receivers in the draft and showed the ability that earned him that title on Sunday, catching three passes for 44 yards.
With Thomas coming out of his slump, Emmanuel Sanders healthy, and the emergence of Sutton and Hamilton as playmakers, the Broncos could have one of the better wide receiver rooms in the league.
Derek Wolfe: Wolfe was the best player on a bad Broncos defense Sunday. He was able to get the lone sack of the game with Domata Peko, was tied for third on the team with two solo tackles and had a huge second half interception. Wolfe consistently brought interior pressure, even though he only had half a sack.
Wolfe’s also an important leader in the locker room. After the game, Wolfe was asked about Denver’s performance which he accurately summed up, “Same sh*t every week. Tired of talking about the same sh*t, for two years straight. Something has gotta change.”
Something absolutely has to change in the Mile High City, or Denver could be facing their first consecutive losing seasons since Pat Bowlen bought the team in 1984.
Case Keenum: The quarterback looked abysmal on Sunday, making Broncos fans wonder if it was really worth the $18 million per year for a slight upgrade on Trevor Siemian. Outside of Keenum’s two, late, garbage-time drives, he threw for 225 yards and one touchdown. He also fumbled twice, deep in Broncos territory. Luckily, neither were recovered by the Jets, but paired with his near pick-six on the last play of the game, turnovers continue to be a huge problem for the Broncos.
The Broncos defense: That unit was absolutely inept against a milk toast Jets offense. There’s no excuse for how the talent of the Broncos defense managed to give up 500 yards of total offense to a Jets unit that entered the game ranking 29th in the league. A fairly bland backfield of Isaiah Crowell and Bilal Powell somehow managed to rush for over 300 yards combined behind one of the worst offensive lines in the league.
Meanwhile, Sam Darnold scorched the Broncos through the air. Bradley Roby was consistently picked on, giving up two huge touchdowns to Robby Anderson, and missing a tackle on Crowell’s 77-yard touchdown bolt. Denver’s pass rush, which arguably has the most talent in the league, only managed to sack Darnold once. That’s embarrassing, especially considering the Jets’ offensive line was ranked 21st in pass blocking by Pro Football Focus.
The Jets came within one yard of putting 41 points up on the Broncos after putting up a combined 41 points over their last three games.
Broncos coaching staff: Lastly, Denver’s coaching staff now finds itself on the hottest seat they’ve been on since their arrival in Denver. Denver’s roster is full of so much talent, but the results aren’t showing up. The Broncos “elite” pass rush currently ranks 18th in the league in sacks, and a rushing duo that looks among the best in the league only got 37 carries combined over the past two games.
Similarily to last year, the team is managing to look worse and worse as the weeks go on, while teams with strong coaching staffs like the New England Patriots continue to get better.