The Denver Broncos’ 2022 NFL season was unexpected considering the playoff expectations they faced after trading for Russell Wilson. Upon the conclusion of the season, what were the highest of the highs, lowest of the lows, and signs of hope going forward?

Describing the Denver Broncos season in one word

Unexpected. That is one word that comes to mind when reflecting on how the season went for the Denver Broncos in 2022. After trading for Russell Wilson in the offseason, the widespread belief amongst various national media outlets was that Denver was an immediate Super Bowl contender. The reality was entirely different.

Wilson’s performance this season inside of Nathaniel Hackett’s offense was the definition of unexpected, but it appears more of Denver’s franchise quarterback’s struggles were relative to the complex scheme their former head coach had implemented. The Broncos’ offense finished this season as a bottom-ten unit in nearly every critical statistical category relative to points per game, third-down conversion percentage, and red zone efficiency. The number of injuries the Broncos suffered this season was another element that impacted expectations, with 22 total players placed on injured reserve this season including 12 starters.


Jerry Jeudy’s emergence was the highest of the highs

Entering this season, Mile High Sports believed Jerry Jeudy needed to be utilized as the Broncos’ primary playmaker inside the structure of the offense. In Week 1 against the Seattle Seahawks, Jeudy got off to a hot start reeling in four catches for 102 yards. His target share saw some decrease with Courtland Sutton emerging as Wilson’s security blanket.

Week 7 against the New York Jets showcased exactly where Hackett and company had previously failed to incorporate Jeudy effectively within the scheme. Russell Wilson was out due to injury, leading to Brett Rypien starting. Rypien targeted Jeudy across the middle of the field, capitalizing on various one-on-one matchups. Despite Denver losing, the formula was there for how Jeudy would explode toward the end of the season.

The moment Jeudy really emerged came against the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 14 where he helped fuel a Broncos comeback after they trailed 27-0. His eight-catch, 73-yards and three-touchdown performance fully revealed the Broncos’ blueprint going forward which makes Jeudy their most explosive playmaker.

For the remainder of the year, he became the Broncos’ primary target on offense finishing the final five games with 458 receiving yards. To cap off his year, Jeudy finished 2022 with a career-high in yards (972), touchdowns (six), and 67 catches while amassing over 1,000 yards from scrimmage. He truly was a bright spot for Denver’s offense this year.

Lowest of the lows

There were plenty of low moments that impacted the Broncos this season, but Christmas Day was the lowest moment of the year. From the onset, Denver was blasted by Baker Mayfield and the Los Angeles Rams, quickly trailing 17-0. Anything that could go wrong did go wrong for Denver. Spats captured on the sideline magnified the flow of how the game turned out. The 51-14 loss was enough of an avalanche that prompted the Walton-Penner Family Ownership group to move on from Nathaniel Hackett.

An argument could be made that Denver’s Week 1 loss against the Seahawks was a low moment considering how high the expectations were. Javonte Williams’ injury deserves mention as one of the lowest moments of the year, which changed the offense’s structure.

The moment everybody knew things were going downhill

Week 4 against the Las Vegas Raiders was a bittersweet moment that could have been the platform for when everybody knew things were going downhill. Denver’s offense found ways to put up points in the first half, but they regressed in the second half including having only 18 yards of offense in the third quarter. The Broncos lost both Javonte Williams and Randy Gregory as well.

However, Week 5’s Thursday Night Football matchup against the Indianapolis Colts was the defining moment that summarized how the season would go. Denver’s offense continued to struggle at a massive rate. Fans left the stadium in droves before overtime began and the Broncos lost Garett Bolles and Ronald Darby to season-ending injuries.

Signs of hope

While everyone can agree that the 2022 season failed to meet expectations, Sunday’s win against the Los Angeles Chargers showcased why there are still glimpses of hope. Russell Wilson and the Denver offense found ways to put up points after simplifying the offense during their final two weeks. Wilson showcased the ability to still use his mobility to create opportunities for others in the passing game. Interim head coach Jerry Rosburg stepped in on 13 days notice and immediately made changes that improved the morale in the locker room which led to better on-field production.

The Broncos don’t need to rebuild contrary to the narrative. Everybody can acknowledge the issues Denver suffered from this season, but removing emotion, they have a strong locker room culture intact. The on-field product is more fixable than many choose to believe. Whoever is hired as the next head coach of the franchise will largely be responsible for fixing the ‘on-field’ culture.

Obvious needs and gaps

Aside from better offensive production in 2023, the obvious needs and gaps facing this Denver Broncos team lean heavily on the offensive line. Left tackle Garett Bolles and offensive guard Quinn Meinerz are two guaranteed locks to return in 2023. While Lloyd Cushenberry is still under contract, the Broncos are expected to look at other options to bring in next season. Dalton Risner is set to become an unrestricted free agent which puts his status with the team in question. At right tackle, Denver has failed to secure a long-term option at the position dating back to 2013.

Calvin Anderson is set to become an unrestricted free agent and has the tools to be a potential option for them at the position. Anderson’s been a developmental prospect since 2019 who has stepped in various times to start at tackle and has held his own.

In free agency, there aren’t many solidified options available at right tackle that would make the Broncos better in pass protection or run support, but they could look to bring back veteran Billy Turner on a one-year deal and draft a tackle in the mid to later rounds to develop behind him.

Running back has been listed by some as a need the Broncos need to address with Javonte Williams’ injury. Still, Latavius Murray would be a great option to re-sign in free agency as a reliable insurance policy. Broncos fans should temper their expectations for Williams as he recovers from ACL surgery. Murray alongside Chase Edmonds who will be under contract in 2023 complement each other relatively well. On top of that, rookie running back Tyler Badie, who caught his first career touchdown last Sunday, could be another option that Denver runs with until Williams is 100% and fully ready to go.

One key move the Denver Broncos should make

As cliche as this may be, the Broncos should re-sign both Dre’Mont Jones and Alex Singleton this offseason. While hiring their next head coach is something that is guaranteed to happen, retaining both players isn’t something that is guaranteed at this point.

Jones is set to become an unrestricted free agent and could command a large market. His value for Denver speaks for itself as an interior defensive lineman, registering 6.5 sacks on the year. However, what stands out about Jones’ production is that in 13 games played, he was responsible for 16 pressures. His presence as a leader on defense is also valuable for the team, with his no-nonsense, hard hat, and lunch pail approach.

Singleton was a surprise signing during the 2021 offseason, but he surpassed expectations by a landslide. Initially starting the season as a backup on defense and a starter on special teams, Singleton quickly found himself starting at linebacker after injuries to Josey Jewell and Jonas Griffith thrust him into the spotlight. Once he found himself comfortable in Ejiro Evero’s scheme, he took the torch and ran with it, leading the team with a career-high 163 tackles.

The 2022 season wasn’t what anybody had expected or hoped for with this Denver Broncos team, but there are still plenty of things to look forward to going into 2023.