In Week 2, the Broncos were just able to sneak by the Raiders, kicking the game-winning field goal with just 6 seconds left. Although Denver was able to steal one, for much of the game they were outplayed, and many performances left more to be desired.
We take a look at those players who performed well, and three who must improve going forward.
Phillip Lindsay: Lindsay was the Broncos’ most impressive rookie in Week 1 and was even nominated for Rookie of the Week. He followed that outing up with another great performance against the Raiders, finishing the game with 107 yards on 14 carries, which included a 53-yard scamper down the sideline. Lindsay’s vision and surprising power stand out. He seems to always find the hole and sneak through, and the smaller back doesn’t go down without a hell of a fight.
Emmanuel Sanders: Sanders has enjoyed two excellent games to open the Broncos season. In Week 1 he led the team in receiving with 10 receptions for 135 yards and a score. Sunday was more of the same, minus the TD, as Sanders caught four balls for 96 yards. He made up for Demariyus Thomas’ lack of production and, along with Jake Butt, was Keenum’s most reliable target.
Offensive line: The offensive line for the Broncos wasn’t as stout as it was in Week 1 but they still managed to have a great outing. Keenum was pressured and even hit on multiple occasions, but the line held tough for the most part allowing just one sack. What stole the show, however, was the run game. The Broncos rushed for 168 yards in Week 2, bringing their total to 314 yards, which is just one yard shy of the league-leading Texans.
Case Keenum: Week 1 was a strong showing for Keenum even though it was marred by his three bad interceptions. Going against the Raiders’ weak secondary gave Keenum a great chance to bounce back and get rid of the turnovers. Keenum threw another interception deep in enemy territory and, even though he limited turnovers, the offense couldn’t move the ball through the air until the final quarter. Entering the Broncos’ last drive of the first half Keenum had just 13 passing yards, an embarrassing performance against one of the worst secondaries in the league.
Cornerback depth: The ‘No-Fly Zone’ in Denver has been lifted as offenses are now free to throw the ball as they please against this Broncos’ secondary. Derek Carr finished the game with 288 yards going 29-32 on passing attempts. He is the first player in NFL history to complete 90 percent of his passes with at least 30 attempts. Some of the credit certainly falls to Carr and his receivers, but much of it falls on poor coverage. Not only was Denver’s secondary bad, but they were historically sorry.
Demariyus Thomas: Sunday was a rough day for Thomas. Despite being targeted almost twice as many times as the next most targeted Broncos player, Thomas finished the day with just 18 yards on five receptions. More notably he also had two drops, one of which came on the final drive with 19 seconds left. The drop would’ve been a backbreaker for the Broncos if it weren’t for Tim Patrick’s heroics on the next play.
Sunday’s game was an ugly one for the Broncos, and it raised more questions about the rest of the season than it answered. If the Broncos want to compete for a playoff spot they need Keenum and the secondary to turn their bumpy starts around.