The Denver Broncos lost 16-9 at home in Sunday’s action against the New York Jets. Once again, the Broncos’ defense was on the field entirely too much while the offense couldn’t stay on the field consistently enough.

Denver Broncos defense buckles down after early mishap

In Denver’s 16-9 loss on Sunday, the defense started off the game against the New York Jets after winning the toss and deferring to the second half. Denver forced a quick three-and-out for Zach Wilson and company after tight coverage by Damarri Mathis forced an incomplete pass, resulting in a punt for the Jets.

On Denver’s second defensive series, the Broncos forced another three and out after forcing the Jets offense and Wilson to throw short, allowing the defense to rally and tackle. Jets rookie running back Breece Hall gave New York a 7-0 lead in the first quarter after ripping off a 62-yard touchdown run, the largest gain allowed by Denver’s defense this season.

Could the defense respond after allowing an explosive play for a touchdown on their previous drive? Ejiro Evero dialed up pressure on Wilson as Dre’Mont Jones came up big with back-to-back sacks, forcing New York to punt the football back to Denver’s offense.

Denver’s defense would be put in an awkward position on their next defensive series after Brandon McManus missed a 56-yard field goal attempt. The Jets would start on Denver’s 46-yard line after the miss. It wouldn’t matter for Denver’s defense as K’Waun Williams knocked away a pass intended for Jeff Smith.

After a Broncos field goal gave them a 9-7 lead, Denver’s defense took the field once again. The Jets ran a toss play to the defensive right side with Hall who got tackled after two yards, but the rookie tailback was injured on the play and was carted off to the locker room. Zach Wilson kept the Jets’ drive alive after evading Denver’s defense for a gain of 18-yards. A holding penalty backed up the Jets offense to 1st and 20, and a false start on the next play backed them up to 1st and 25.

Wilson caught Broncos linebacker Jonas Griffith in coverage against Michael Carter who scampered off a 37-yard catch and run before being forced out of bounds with the clock winding down under two minutes. Another holding call backed the Jets offense up again, allowing Denver to keep everything in front of them. Greg Zuerlein booted in a field goal from 45-yards out to give the Jets a 10-9 lead going into halftime.

After the Broncos punted away to open up their first possession of the second half, the defense looked to pressure Wilson as the Jets started their possession on their own 13-yard line after a nice punt by Waitman.

Jets receiver Braxton Barrios took a jet sweep 25 yards after making a cut inside, moving the Jets near midfield. Denver’s pass rush brought heavy pressure on Wilson on 3rd and 3 forcing him to heave it across the middle of the field resulting in an incomplete pass and forcing the Jets to punt the football away.

Denver’s defense would take the field again after the offense punted on their second possession of the 2nd half. The Jet’s offense took over on their own 32-yard line. The Broncos brought pressure heavily against Wilson who maneuvered his way around pressure, forcing him to throw it away on third down, forcing New York to punt.

After another Broncos punt, Denver’s defense was back on the field, but this time without second-year edge rusher Baron Browning who suffered a hip injury on the previous drive, he was quickly ruled out and did not return.

Both Nik Bonitto and Mike Purcell combined on a sack of Wilson who tried to run outside of the pocket. Denver’s defense would get a stop on 3rd and 8 on the very next play to force the Jets to punt away once again.

After a Rypien interception, Denver’s defense started out with their backs against the wall on their own 39-yard line. The trend of Denver’s defense being on the field way too much due to the offense’s struggles showcased itself again as Denver trailed 10-9 going into the 4th quarter and the Jets knocking on the door.

The Broncos stopped Michael Carter on 3rd and 1, forcing the Jets to kick a 33-yard field goal to extend New York’s lead to 13-9 with 12:49 remaining in the 4th quarter.

Another Zuerlein field goal in the fourth quarter extended the Jets lead to 16-9 after Denver’s defense held up. Broncos nickel cornerback K’Waun Williams was flagged on the drive on 3rd and long on a very questionable pass interference call that allowed the Jets to move into field goal range.

The game would be in the hands of the offense to conclude the game. Denver’s offense would fail to convert on 4th and 3, but the Broncos still possessed three timeouts. Denver’s defense forced a quick three-and-out and would get the ball back with 1:30 left in the game and no timeouts.

Denver Broncos offense struggles to score

One thing that everybody was keeping an eye on in Sunday’s game was how the offense operated looked with a new quarterback. Would it indicate whether or not the offense’s issues were related to the position or if it were coaching?

During the Broncos 16-9 loss, their first offensive drive was led by Brett Rypien who got the start under center for an injured Russell Wilson. Rypien early on found Jerry Jeudy for a 16-yard gain on 3rd and 7. Denver would have another opportunity to convert on a 3rd and 4, but a pass to Jeudy fell incomplete, resulting in Corliss Waitman booming a 44-yard punt resulting in a fair catch at the Jets’ own 13-yard line.

The Broncos’ offense started their second offensive series on their own 39-yard line after a Jets punt, giving them decent field position. On their very first play of the series, Jerry Jeudy took a massive shot on a screen play and was down on the field for several moments before running off the field under his own power. Unfortunately, Denver couldn’t get the first down and was forced to punt.

After Denver’s defense surrendered a long touchdown run, Rypien and the offense looked to tie things up. Rypien, Jerry Jeudy, Latavius Murray, and Mike Boone helped orchestrate a scoring drive, marching down the field on a 13-play 75-yard drive. Murray scored his first touchdown as a member of the Broncos from two yards out.

There’s always got to be something right? Brandon McManus extra point attempt was missed wide right, so despite Denver scoring a touchdown, they’d trail 7-6 with 1:33 remaining in the 1st quarter.

After their last scoring drive, Denver’s offense got the ball back looking to keep building on what they were able to do on their previous possession. A bad Jets punt gave Denver the ball near midfield at the 48-yard line. After a Rypien quarterback sneak on 4th and 1, the Broncos had a new set of downs. Rypien nearly found Jeudy for a touchdown down the right sideline but couldn’t connect.

The Broncos trotted out Brandon McManus for a 56-yard field goal, but he missed it wide right. McManus was 0-1 on extra points, and 1-2 on FGs through the first two quarters of play on Sunday.

Denver’s offense would get the ball back on their own 1-yard line after Jets’ punter Braden Mann pinned a 49-yard punt perfectly near the pylon. Rookie tight end Greg Dulcich gave Denver some breathing room with a nine-yard reception. Shortly after that, Rypien unloaded a pass across the middle of the field to a wide-open Jerry Jeudy for a 45-yard gain. After encountering a penalty that backed them up five yards, Denver eventually settled for a 44-yard field goal by McManus that gave them a 9-7 lead with 3:37 left in the first half.

The Broncos’ offense took over the first possession of the second half but came up one yard shy on a third down play to Courtland Sutton. Earlier on the drive, Rypien looked deep down the left side for Sutton who had a step on Sauce Gardner, but D.J. Reed came and deflected the pass. Corliss Waitman punted it away, pinning the Jets at their own 13-yard line.

After the Broncos’ defense forced the Jets to punt on their first possession of the second half, Denver’s offense came onto the field for theirs. A roughing the passer penalty on Jets defensive lineman Vinny Curry gave the Broncos a free 15 yards. Several plays later, the Jets’ defense got home with pressure, sacking Rypien and forcing Denver to punt.

Jerry Jeudy and Brett Rypien continued their strong connection with each other on their next offensive series. On the first play of the series, Rypien connected with Jeudy on the left sideline with a beautiful toe tap. Denver’s drive would stall out after the Broncos couldn’t connect with Andrew Beck in the flat, forcing Waitman to punt the ball away once again.

Denver’s defense gave them the ball back after forcing the Jets to punt and Nathaniel Hackett pulled out an impressive play from his playbook. A diversion-based end-around play to KJ Hamler gave the Broncos a first down after a gain of 14 yards, but on the next play, Rypien threw an interception on a pass intended for Greg Dulcich who was crossing the middle of the field.

After a Jets FG, the Broncos offense needed a touchdown, trailing 13-9 in the 4th quarter. In hindsight, if McManus didn’t miss the extra point and field goal attempt from earlier, the game would have been tied. Instead, Rypien and the offense faced the pressure of trailing and needing some rhythm.

Unfortunately, Denver couldn’t capitalize on 3rd and 2 out of shotgun where Hackett dialed up a passing play that fell one yard short resulting in Waitman’s sixth punt of the afternoon.

4:35 left in the fourth quarter and all the pressure in the world on Hackett and the Broncos’ offense. Calm, cool, and collected, Rypien and the offense moved the ball downfield after connecting with Dulcich for catches of nine and 16 yards. Rypien found Courtland Sutton for an 11-yard gain to give Denver a first down. After running several plays, the Broncos faced a 4th and 3 at the 2:00 warning. Rypien delivered a beautiful pass down the right sideline to Courtland Sutton who attempted to haul in a touchdown grab, but Jets rookie cornerback Sauce Gardner knocked the pass away resulting in a turnover on downs.

Denver’s offense would get one final shot after the defense forced a Jets three and out, but they’d have no timeouts remaining with 1:30 left on the game clock. Rypien found Melvin Gordon two times in a row in the passing game, with Gordon picking up the first down. The game would end after a Rypien pass intended for KJ Hamler deep down the right sideline fell incomplete.

Something has to give with the Broncos offense. They moved the ball more effectively with Rypien under center, but the same playcalling and execution issues arose once again. Pressure is mounting for head coach Nathaniel Hackett as the offense has failed to meet expectations with the personnel Denver has.

Hackett expressed frustration with the offense’s struggles post-game after Denver’s loss.

“I’m sick of being up here saying the same thing over and over again,” Hackett said after the game. “The opportunities are there. At some point we have to take it, there’s no excuses. We’ve been in every single game. We have to win these games. As a team, as an offense, defense, everybody. We’ve had these opportunities, we have been in these situations. It’s frustrating being up here having to say the same thing because like I said, those opportunities are there. We have to make them. It’s that simple, it’s the NFL. It’s going to be hard. Especially close games which we’ve been in, you have to come through and win those games.”

The Broncos dropped to 2-5 after the loss and will face the Jacksonville Jaguars in London next week before they head into the bye week.

Broncos soul searching after loss

After Sunday’s game, Brett Rypien took to the podium and said what needed to be said after the Broncos offensive struggled in a loss.

“I don’t know if there’s desperation, but I think everybody in our locker room feels the urgency to get better,” Rypien said following Sunday’s loss. “That starts with every single guy looking at themselves in the mirror and figuring out what I can do to help this offense and help this team because when your defense is playing as well as our defense is, you shouldn’t be losing games. That’s just point-blank, period, a fact. We have to figure out what we can do to turn this thing around because I still think we have a good team. We have to figure out what are our best plays on offense. Everybody has to be on the same page as far as what we’re trying to do, how we’re trying to attack defenses [and] go into each week and have conviction and a plan.”

Rypien didn’t throw together a bunch of motivational euphemisms about how the offense is going to turn things around, but spoke on the simple reality of the Broncos current issues.

One thing is evident inside the locker room, the players have each other’s back. There doesn’t appear to be a divide between offensive and defensive players. They have rallied behind one another.

The bigger question that will be answered sooner rather than later is whether or not Nathaniel Hackett begins to lose support inside of the locker room. Broncos safety Justin Simmons said that the Broncos have to find a way to win.

“I do not really care personally who says what or what happens,” Simmons said. “This is my seventh season now. 9-7 is the closest I have gotten to a winning record. I think back to certain games—you are in these moments, and you try to be in the moment. It is not a hoorah. I do not care if the cameras are watching or not. It is just like focus on the moment. Forget the good, forget the bad. Right here, right now we could find a way to win the game. It does not matter who says it, me, [QB] Russell [Wilson], [S Kareem] Jackson or [OLB Bradley] Chubb. At the end of the day, we have to find a way to win the game. Emotional speeches are not working. Whatever the case may be, you just have to win your one-on-one and find a way to win the game.”

Broncos news and notes

Broncos inactive list vs. Jets.
Tight end Albert Okwuegbunam
Linebacker Josey Jewell
Quarterback Russell Wilson
Wide receiver Jalen Virgil
Safety Caden Sterns
Cornerback Essang Bassey

Injury Report.
Running back Mike Boone suffered an ankle injury and did not return. X-rays on Boone’s ankle came back negative and he will undergo an MRI on Monday according to 9News’ Mike Klis.
Outside linebacker Baron Browning left the game with a hip injury and did not return.