The Denver Broncos are off the schnide!
Yes, the Broncos led by Brett Rypien in his first NFL start won their first game of the 2020 season, a 37-28 victory over the awful New York Jets.
Hey, a win is a win.
And for Denver, it wasn’t easy. Partly because the Broncos are more banged up than a pack of wild stallions after a rodeo at the Stock Show.
Von Miller, Jurrell Casey, Courtland Sutton; they’re with six other starters on the Injured Reserve. And Drew Lock isn’t on the IR, but he is injured and unable to play.
That’s what led the way to Brett Rypien being the story of this game.
Rypien, who was the third-string quarterback and on the practice squad when this season began, just won his first NFL start.
And the young gun started hot, but then got ice cold.
Hey, this is what you get when you have young, inexperienced quarterbacks for nearly five years straight. Any Broncos fan can tell you that. But, not every Broncos fan can give you the names of all nine starters at the position since Peyton Manning retired.
Rypien started with a dynamite, 20-yard toss to Tim Patrick on his first drive, right before being hit, too. Later in that series, a rusher broke free and Rypien confidently delivered a short pass to Noah Fant on a tight end screen, avoiding the sack and gaining eight yards in the process.
He had the touchdown toss to Jerry Jeudy, but that play was all Jeudy as the rookie “Mossed” cornerback Pierre Desir. That throw was late and Jeudy made it all good as he trotted into the end zone backwards.
Later in the second quarter, Tim Patrick got free on an outside release and Rypien threw it much earlier on the go route, dropping the ball in the bucket for a 40-yard gain.
Rypien really only had one awful pass in the first half, an interception to Desir on the sideline which should have been thrown away.
In fact, for abut 80 percent of the game — as Steve Smith said after the contest — Rypien was very good. It was that third/fourth quarter which really hurt his overall game. And, it almost cost the Broncos the win, too.
He started 13-19 with two touchdowns and one interception. Then, the wheels quickly fell off.
Rypien for some reason threw into a triple-covered Jeudy and Desir not only picked it off but took it to the house. Double damning. The Jets tried to tie the game with a 2-point conversion and failed. But on Rypien’s next throw, only four plays later, he was picked off again.
New York took advantage of that second interception to take the lead with a field goal.
However, it’s important to note the second-year quarterback did bounce back. He hit two throws on the next drive, including another explosive play to Patrick, pushing the offense into field goal range to wrestle back the lead.
Then, he set the key block of the game, springing Melvin Gordon on the 43-yard score to seal the victory.
Other young quarterbacks may have folded after throwing three interceptions in their first NFL start. Hell, almost every other one would have. Rypien joined Jim Druckenmiller to become the only two QBs to ever throw three interceptions in their first game and still earn the victory.
The good: Rypien did very well under constant duress and while being hit in the mouth (literally) by the dirty Jets defense. The intelligence needed to throw the ball to Fant on that tight end screen, for instance, should not be missed.
He also excelled at throwing the deep ball, connecting on three explosive plays down the field. Finally, Rypien went 6-10 on third down throws, which was phenomenal considering his lack of experience.
His best throw of the night was when he let it rip; a fireball split defenders and hit Patrick in the hands for a crucial touchdown.
The bad (and ugly): The interceptions are easy to pick as his worst plays. The first one was ugly, a roll-out to the sideline in which he could have 1. Stepped out of bounds 2. Thrown it away or 3. Ran for a slight gain. The pick-6 was probably his worst play, though, not only because of the score given up but because he threw the ball without really deciding whether it was a smart decision or not.
Overall, it was a decent first start in which Rypien showed some resilience. And, he knows there’s a lot to work on. Head coach Vic Fangio wouldn’t name a starter for Week 5 after the win, but the odds-on favorite to start is Rypien over Jeff Driskel or Blake Bortles.