Small sample size, sure, but the Denver Broncos offense was clearly improved with Klint Kubiak calling the plays instead of head coach Nathaniel Hackett.

For most of the first half against the Las Vegas Raiders, Denver’s offense was decent. That’s a huge step up from the awful play Broncos Country experienced in Weeks 1-10. Outside of a few series here and there, which were again, decent.

What Kubiak did was mostly what we expected him to do. He called more quick passes for Wilson, used some play-action and Denver’s passing offense was noticeably better despite the loss.

On the team’s first drive, Russell Wilson got his confidence going with a short pass to Greg Dulcich, and then connected with Courtland Sutton on a slant route. That’s one, simple route we’ve seen sparingly this year under Hackett.

Then, on a key third down, Wilson found Kendall Hinton on a 10-yard out route. Hinton was able to shake the defender and rumble 32 yards before stepping out at the one yard line.

At the end of the first half, Denver enjoyed another promising drive. This one went 84 yards on 16 plays and featured lots of short passing from Wilson as well as a 23-yard scramble from him on a 3rd and 12. Unfortunately, even after getting to the Raiders’ three yard line, the Broncos settled for a field goal and it was blocked.

Denver went 1-of-2 in the red zone last Sunday, which is much better than their usual 36.4%.

However, while the first half was highlighted by that 16-play drive, and the 9-play drive which resulted in the team’s only touchdown, the second half drives left a lot to be desired. Denver punted four times and kicked two field goals after halftime, and ended up losing to Las Vegas in overtime.

There were some miscues by Wilson — like the throw to Duclcich which was outside instead of inside where he was looking — and mistakes by others, too. Kendall Hinton dropped a beautiful pass from Wilson which would have gone 20-plus yards.

All in all, Denver’s offense was better, if only incrementally. And that’s something to be hopeful for moving forward. Outside of better tailoring the offense to Wilson’s needs/style, let’s look at the metrics which show the improvement of the group under Kubiak.

Team EPA/Play

EPA per play means the amount of expected points added per play or by a player.

For the Broncos, they’ve been awful at EPA/Play, especially in the running game.



Through the first 10 weeks, Denver was among the worst teams in the league. In fact, they ranked 28th overall with a -0.078 EPA/Play. They were also 30th in Rush EPA/Play (-0.183) and 24th in Dropback EPA/Play (-0.019).

But in Week 11 — again, a small sample size — the Broncos Dropback EPA/Play was markedly better.



Instead of being an outlier way down at the bottom left, Denver is now in the mix when we look at only Week 11. They improved to 13th overall, and actually had a positive EPA/Play (0.031), and their Dropback EPA/Play was 12th, and again positive (0.172).

The running game was just as bad as it has been, but considering the Broncos were without Jerry Jeudy and KJ Hamler, their vast improvement in the passing game is evidence of Kubiak’s play-calling working better.

QB Efficiency, other grades

Quarterback efficiency, also taken from, includes both EPA/Play and Completion Percentage Over Expected.

Wilson came in at 8th this week, another giant leap compared to Weeks 1-10. His EPA+CPOE composite was 0.199, and his EPA/Play was 0.172, which was 14th.

Passing Efficiency, Week 11. Credit:

Passing Efficiency, Week 11. Credit:

For Weeks 1-10, Wilson was atrocious.

Passing Efficiency, Week 1-10. Credit:

Passing Efficiency, Week 1-10. Credit:

His Passing Efficiency score was 0.027, 27th of 32 passers. And his EPA/Play was 0.005, just north of negative territory.

So, clearly Kubiak’s play-calling helped Wilson in terms of EPA and completion percentage, which was a big issue with his play, a lack of accuracy.

But there are other numbers that point to Wilson’s better performance last week.

Pro Football Focus gave him a 79.0 overall grade, which was the second-best score of the year for him outside of that first Raiders game (80.3). His 99.8 passer rating was the third-highest of the season, and his 77.42 completion percentage was the best of the year.


Denver Broncos fans have to hope Wilson can play more like his former self in Seattle than what everyone’s seen for most of this season. He’s locked in for at least two more years, and even after the 2024 season, cutting him would mean huge dead cap hits.

Kubiak may not be the final solution, but it was a glimmer of hope in seeing that a new play-caller — who actually calls to the strength of his players — will help Wilson be better than average.

And for Nathaniel Hackett, while it was the right move to step down as play-caller, it was too little, too late to save his job in all likelihood. Plus, it was clear Kubiak’s offense worked better than his.

This week, Kubiak’s offense faces the woeful Carolina Panthers (3-8) and should be able to put together another strong performance.

That game kicks off at 11 a.m. MT in Carolina and will be broadcast on CBS.