The best and worst Denver Broncos starters against the Raiders and Browns

Garett Bolles blocks a Raiders player. Credit Kirby Lee, USA TODAY Sports.
Garett Bolles blocks a Raiders player. Credit Kirby Lee, USA TODAY Sports.

The losing streak is now four games, and nobody seems to have an answer for the Denver Broncos’ woes. The front office is silent as the slide continues and Vic Fangio is content to ride the Teddy Bridgewater rollercoaster regardless of how sick it makes the other passengers. Since the Broncos were on a short week, here is a double does of PFF grades; one for the loss to the Raiders and the other for the Thursday night showdown with the Cleveland Browns.

Best Offensive Performance vs Raiders- Garett Bolles- 82.1 (5th of 74 offensive tackles)

For the first time this season, a Broncos offensive lineman earns the highest grade with a solid showing. Aside from the one sack allowed to Vegas, Bolles was stout and protected Bridgewater sufficiently. He was active in the run game and did not miss many assignments overall. Bolles had a career performance last season and hasn’t quite lived up to the expectations set for 2021. However, in a season with multiple weak showings from the offensive line as a whole, he has been the most consistent piece and will be integral to getting them back on track.

Worst Offensive Performance vs Raiders- Lloyd Cushenberry (28th of 32 centers)

For a second time this season, center Lloyd Cushenberry is the lowest graded offensive starter according to PFF. Starting in all six of the Broncos’ games so far, he has been wildly inconsistence across the board.

Cushenberry received a top grade once this season, but otherwise has seriously struggled. In his second year of development, it is difficult to make a call about his overall projection as an NFL-er but with Quinn Meinerz sitting directly behind him on the depth chart, he needs to watch his back.

Best Defensive Performance vs Raiders- Von Miller- 76.7 (17th of 113 EDGEs)

Regardless of the stat line, Von Miller played a very nice game against the Raiders on Sunday. Miller was amongst the leaders in run defense and led the team in pass rush according to PFF’s grading metric.

Fans should expect more from him in the way of sacks but, outside of Malik Reed, this front seven is not created to get after the quarterback without the presence of Bradley Chubb on the opposite side. Von was not stellar in coverage but was not a liability either. In a game where the Broncos got soundly trounced, Von was one of the top performers.

Worst Defensive Performance vs Raiders- Justin Strnad (90th of 105 linebackers)

Justin Strnad is in a bit of an interesting dilemma, in his second year he has been forced into a starting role with the season ending injury to Josey Jewell. Now with linebacking mate Alexander Johnson on the IR (pectoral), Strnad will be expected to make defensive calls on the field. Having Johnson go down mid-game could not have helped but he just seems to be a touch slow on several reads. Honestly, he is filling his starting role admirably, but Denver will need a big jump in production if they want to continue to compete with divisional games coming very soon.

Best Offensive Performance vs Browns- Courtland Sutton- 83.2 (10th of 108 wide receivers)

Three things are certain: death, taxes and Courtland Sutton showing out.

In a stretch of very disappointing offensive showings Sutton is simply the only consistent player on the offense. It’s a shame they can’t get him plays down the field, because he could easily be putting up dominant Pro Bowl level numbers. Lets just get Sutton a contract extension before he decides to test out the free agent market.

Worst Offensive Performance vs Browns- Eric Saubert- 47.0 (46th of 52 tight ends)

1 catch for 3 yards. That’s it, that’s the stat line. If he is going to receive significant snaps, then he is going to have to produce. End of story.

Best Defensive Performance vs Browns- Jonathan Cooper- 85.7 (6th of 106 EDGEs)

Giving up only 17 points, the Denver Broncos defense held up its side of the bargain. For as much as they struggled to stop the Browns’ running game, with a little support from their offense, they could have won this game. After Von Miller went down with an ankle injury, Cooper stepped in and arguably put more pressure on Case Keenum than any other player all night.

He was effective and came to play against Cleveland. Though he was not technically a starter coming into the game, he logged enough snaps to qualify this time around after Miller was unable to return.

Worst Defensive Performance vs Browns- Curtis Robinson- 25.1 (103rd of 104 linebackers)

Curtis Robinson is also not technically a starter but after Micah Kaiser was injured early on in the match, he ended up taking 45 defensive snaps. To say Robinson struggled would be an understatement. The middle of the Bronco’s defensive was an illusion that Browns’ running back D’Ernest Johnson just wasn’t fooled by, ripping of big gains, time and time and time again. Robinson lacked the ability to play downhill effectively and likely will not get that opportunity again in this defense after George Paton made trades for two new linebackers: Stephen Weatherly and Kenny Young.

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