On Sunday, the Broncos picked up their first win against the Chicago Bears, beating them 31-28. Many of the Broncos performances were below par and almost lost them the game. Due to outrageously bad defense and a stagnant offense, the Broncos were down by three touchdowns going into the second half. Luckily, there were a few stars that made big plays when it mattered the most. Did the Broncos find hope for the season in these performances or was Denver just losing the race to the first overall draft pick?
Which Broncos Performances Won Them Sunday’s Battle Of the 0-3 Teams?
Why Were The Broncos Down 21-7 to The Chicago Bears?
The Denver Defense
By halftime, Vance Joseph had turned Justin Fields into a star. The struggling quarterback tore the Denver defense apart. Fields set a Bears franchise record of completing 16 consecutive passes to start the game. He also threw three touchdowns in the first half. The Broncos’ defensive performance was again terrible. Fields had almost zero pressure while he threw to wide-open receivers that trotted into the endzone without a single Bronco in sight. By the end of the first half, it looked like there was another possibility of a 70-point game.
The Denver Offense
After a methodical opening drive resulting in a touchdown, the Broncos’ offense disappeared. They ended up punting on the next four drives while totaling only 45 yards. Denver’s offense was sloppy, taking penalty after penalty that put them behind the sticks on almost every drive. The Broncos’ offensive performance in the first half was a reminder of last year’s abysmal team that never gave its defense a chance.
The Bronco Performances That Saved The Day
Russell Wilson had another great performance for the Broncos on Sunday. Wilson ended the day with three passing touchdowns, zero interceptions, a completion percentage of 75%, and a passer rating of 133.5, leading the team to 24 unanswered points and a win. His leadership and clutch fourth-quarter playmaking ability turned the offense around in the second half and gave the team a much-needed momentum swing.
After Javantee Williams went down in the first half, the hopes for the Denver running game were all but dashed. Jaleel McLaughlin, the undrafted rookie out of Youngstown State, showed up in a big way. McLaughlin made explosive play after explosive play, tallying up over 100 total yards, a touchdown, and averaging over ten yards a carry. By the end of the game, he led the team in targets and carries, being Russell Wilson’s support during the 21-point comeback.
Justin Fields and the Bears steam-rolled the Denver defense for three quarters on Sunday. A large part of that was due to a lack of pressure from high-paid stars like Randy Gregory. In his place, the 2022 second-round pick, Nik Bonitto stepped up. Combining with Jonathon Cooper, Bonitto had a late-game strip sack, resulting in a Denver touchdown that tied up the game. Bonitto had two and a half sacks on Sunday and leads the team with four. As big names like Gregory become glaring busts, players like Bonitto have a great chance to step up, and he did just that.
Can These Players Lead the Broncos To More Wins?
After a game that the Broncos barely won, do these standout players give them any hope?
Russell Wilson’s continued success paired with the good play of these young names gives the team a lot to look forward to. Sadly, the players who have had continued bad performances may outweigh the good ones. Almost the entire defense was unable to stop the 29th-ranked offense of the Chicago Bears. The Broncos allowed a team that averages 305 total yards a game to have more than that in just passing yards. If there is any hope of winning games Vance Joseph will have to find a solution to his Swiss-cheese-like defense. Hopefully, Justin Simmons’ return will aid that challenge.
Other anticipated contributors like Jerry Juedy and Javonte Williams continue to be questionable. The two offensive stars can’t seem to stay healthy, and even when they do, they aren’t producing as the team hoped they would. Juedy only has 158 yards and no touchdowns in three games so far. Williams only has 138 yards and no touchdowns on the year. As Russell Wilson and the offense become more productive, these stars will have to carry their weight.
The future is very unclear for the Broncos after the narrow victory on Sunday. Can they keep winning against a struggling New York Jets team or will they fall to 1-4? The only way to keep winning is for more players like Bonitto and McLaughlin to step up.
Main Photo: Jamie Sabau – USA Today Sports