Congress once moved to require all cigarettes to bear the surgeon general’s warning on their labels, warning those consuming the product of the health maladies recently linked to the vice. Following, the Denver Broncos’ dreadful loss and horrific display on Sunday, this columnist is petitioning congress to step in yet again.

They aren’t the most popular crew, certainly, but Broncos Country is desperate for help.

There is no way consuming this much disgusting football is good for one’s health. Mental health in the Rocky Mountain region is likely plummeting by the week, and someone has to take a stand.

Now, outlawing the consumption of Denver Broncos football seems a step too far, admittedly. That said, a label at the bottom of the screen, or a banner hanging above the stadium’s entrances, just so those courageous enough to consume the product know what they’re getting themselves in for, doesn’t seem like a bad idea.

Outside of that cry for help, we’re here to discuss what went right and went wrong for the Denver Broncos in their pitiful loss to the Carolina Panthers, so let’s get into it.

Stock Up for the Denver Broncos

Denver Broncos running back Latavius Murray (28) looks for running room against the Carolina Panthers during the second half at Bank of America Stadium.

Nov 27, 2022; Charlotte, North Carolina, USA; Denver Broncos running back Latavius Murray (28) looks for running room against the Carolina Panthers during the second half at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

Latavius Murray

No one could’ve projected the Denver Broncos’ rushing attack would be as atrocious as it has been. It’s been one of the worst aspects of a very bad offense.

Today though, it wasn’t all that dreadful, and one could even argue that Latavius Murray had the best rushing performance of any Bronco this season.

Murray gained 92 yards on the ground this week, 17 more than the next-best performance by a member of the Broncos this season. Murray did set up an easy scoring opportunity with a 52-yard scamper, which was Denver’s longest play of the day by 30 yards, but that scoring chance was unraveled by a Russell Wilson fumble.

In terms of both rushing yards and yards per carry, today’s showing was the best from a Denver Bronco running back this season. That’s worth something.

Kendall Hinton & Courtland Sutton

The Denver Broncos’ skill group has been devastated by injury, but in recent weeks, a hallowed few have stepped up.

Murray was the top dog today, but Courtland Sutton and Kendall Hinton had nice, though imperfect, performances.

Hinton garnered 35 yards on five receptions and looked like one of Wilson’s more reliable options for much of the game. He also showed his trademark shiftiness, helping to create additional yards after the catch, and even pick up some yardage as a ball carrier.

The end-of-game drop was ugly, but it also came on a poor pass from Wilson and likely didn’t change the final outcome.

The year-over-year progress Hinton has made, since moving from quarterback to wide receiver in 2018, is reminiscent of the sustained progress we’ve seen from Jalen Hurts at quarterback. He hasn’t taken a dramatic Josh Allen-type leap in any of those years, but he’s shown reliably steady growth, and given his tools, that’s exciting to see.

Hinton could continue to blossom into a quality starting wide receiver. His career trajectory certainly looks the part of a safe investment.

Meanwhile, Sutton has been experiencing a nice rebound from his grisly slump, over the past couple of weeks. After looking like one of the team’s worst receivers for a little over a month, he’s been on fire the last three weeks. Today was no different.

On his first six targets, Sutton was perfect, catching the ball all six times, and generating 75 yards. He also set Denver up for their lone touchdown of the game, with a difficult sliding catch, that was nearly a score in its own right. The seventh target sailed miles over his head, and the eighth target was a drop in the endzone, but Sutton’s performance was still promising.

Prior to tearing his ACL, Sutton looked the part of one of the league’s most physically dominant players at the catch point. Since the ACL injury, it hasn’t been the same, and Sutton has struggled to win those physical, contact-rich moments.

On Sunday, against one of the league’s most physical cornerbacks, Jaycee Horn, Sutton mostly shined, save for a couple of mental hiccups.

Mike Purcell

This player was initially not on the list, but after asking Broncos Country for help selecting Denver Broncos for the ‘positive’ section of this column (as it was hard to find the positives this week), and hearing their loud cries for the inclusion of Purcell, it would be hard to leave him off the list.

At the time of writing this, that tweet has 53 replies, and 18 of them either mention or allude to Mike Purcell. That’s over one-third of the responses. Latavius Murray had the second-most votes, and he only received seven.

Now, we’ve already discussed how Latavius Murray had maybe the best statistical performance of any Broncos running back all season, so what did Purcell do to measure up to that?

Looking at the stat sheet tells you he had one solo tackle, one combined tackle, and was part of a front seven that allowed the Panthers to accumulate 185 yards on the ground.

So why is Broncos Country so in love with Mike Purcell right now? Because he yelled at Russell Wilson, and that display of frustration and anger with this situation is something every member of the fanbase can relate to.

It should be noted, that after the game Wilson said he and Purcell were on the same page, and that Purcell simply yelled, “let’s f**king go.”

However, after viewing the clip, it’s hard for non-reptilian humanoids to believe that’s really all that transpired.

The point of this all being, public sentiment and the locker room has appeared to shift around Russell Wilson. Teammates are visibly upset, and fans are excited to see it.

That’s a horrible sign.

The Denver Broncos can’t let this problem fester, and to ensure that, Broncos Country has to be loud in its demands for a better product.

Stock Down for the Denver Broncos

Denver Broncos head coach Nathaniel Hackett on the sidelines in the second quarter at Bank of America Stadium.

Nov 27, 2022; Charlotte, North Carolina, USA; Denver Broncos head coach Nathaniel Hackett on the sidelines in the second quarter at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Russell Wilson

It’s no secret that Russell Wilson’s 2022 season has been a severe disappointment. Point the blame at whoever you want, there’s no denying this is a letdown relative to preseason expectations.

Though with that said, Wilson was playing some of his best football over the three games that preceded the matchup with the Panthers. It wasn’t good by any means, but it had progressed closer to average, and that was at least something.

EPA/CPOE chart. Weeks 8-11+thanksgiving games. 4% wp minimum. Denver Broncos

His ghastly performance against the Carolina Panthers will send expectations tumbling back down.

He completed more than 60 percent of his passes, but he accomplished that feat in about the least efficient way imaginable.

In the first half, Wilson dropped back 15 times, completed 69.2% of his attempts, and yet the Broncos offense tallied a mere 42 passing yards. For the sake of reminder, on his 13 rushing attempts, Latavius Murray generated 92 yards of offense.

Through three quarters, Wilson had 23 dropbacks, and the Denver Broncos offense generated just 70 passing yards. By game’s end, he had 38 dropbacks and the Broncos totaled 125 passing yards.

Those should be passing statistics from the days of leather helmets and the Decatur Staleys. Passing stats like that felt antiquated when The Brady Bunch was on the air. That’s the pit of misery.

Don’t let the 19-for-35 fool you. That’s bottom-tier NFL quarterbacking.

That’s not even mentioning the fumble that erased a scoring opportunity, as it was arguably the fault of the line.

Now, the offensive line is ravaged by injury, as is the rest of the offense, but those points start to sound mute when one remembers how Russell Wilson looked in the healthy version of this offense. That 16-13 squeaker against the Texans was not an impressive offensive performance.

At the end of the day, the Carolina Panthers are on their third quarterback in Sam Darnold. Darnold is unanimously viewed as a draft bust, and there’s no almost no chance that he’s a starting quarterback in the NFL next season. And yet, the $250 million quarterback, who cost the Broncos two first-round picks to acquire, was thoroughly outdueled by him.

There’s a reason Purcell chewed him out. There’s a reason it seemed Nathaniel Hackett nearly benched him. He’s a problem.

Denver Broncos special teams

The Broncos’ special teams made a lot of big plays, but they made plenty of costly ones too.

On the good side, the special teams stole two possessions, and, at one point, Montrell Washington had a 20-yard punt return.

There was even more on the bad side though.

Brandon McManus once again missed a crucial kick, Special teams lost two possessions, resulting in 10 points for the Panthers, and they also negated that 20-yard Montrell Washington return with a foolish facemask.

It was a mucky game for the special teams, and although they made some big plays, they ultimately had a greater negative impact than a positive one.

Denver Broncos defense

The Denver Broncos’ defense has been marvelous all season long, but the war of attrition they’ve been forced to endure is finally starting to show.

After a fairly ugly performance against the Raiders, which saw them surrender their second-most points per drive, of the season, they followed it up with an even worse performance against a lesser offense.

The performance of the run defense looks worse at first glance than it was in reality. Although they allowed 185 rushing yards, it took Carolina 46 attempts to get there, at a relatively inefficient pace of 4.0 yards per carry.

The more concerning part of Denver’s showing was, instead, what the pass defense couldn’t accomplish against Sam Darnold.

Patrick Surtain II saw his second-consecutive bad game, which is disheartening, considering the one thing Broncos Country could seemingly rely on was strong play from Surtain.

The pass rush was ‘just fine’ once again, which is a far cry from their dominance of the early season.

As a result, Darnold was able to register 8.6 yards per attempt and a touchdown, without ever coming all that close to risking a turnover.

That’s a defensive failure.

Patrick Surtain II

For the second straight week, Patrick Surtain II had a poor performance. It’s especially hurtful to see him have two bad games at this point in the season, because it often feels like all Broncos fans have to hold onto is Surtain being the best cornerback in the sport, and that hasn’t been the case these past two weeks.

In matchups against Davante Adams and D.J. Moore, Surtain’s been targeted 10 times, and has allowed seven receptions for 162 yards and three scores. That’s good for a near-perfect 152.1 passer rating.

To isolate yesterday’s game, Moore got the best of Surtain on three separate occasions, with each producing either a first down or a touchdown. Those wins for Moore also included a 52-yard strike, and a five-yard touchdown.

Surtain has to rebound next week against a shoddy Ravens wide receiver room, or this season will (somehow) get even more depressing.

Denver Broncos coaching staff

This will be a brief section, but it deserves mention nonetheless.

Nathaniel Hackett is on the hottest seat in the NFL right now. There’s been very little he’s done right, and Broncos fans are already discussing him as one of the worst head coaches in NFL history.

With that said, for all the bad, he’s managed to keep the locker room together.

One has to wonder if he’s still accomplishing that feat after what we saw today.