BRONCOS

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly: Running backs fail Broncos at key times

Sep 13, 2022, 9:35 AM
Melvin Gordon...
(Photo by Jane Gershovich/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jane Gershovich/Getty Images)

The morning after and it still doesn’t make any sense.

How the Broncos lost their Week 1 opener to the Seahawks is beyond perplexing. The team gagged chance after chance in the second half on their way to a stunning 17-16 loss.

After the game, head coach Nathaniel Hackett attempted to explain the team’s disastrous second half. QB Russell Wilson said all the right things, but you have to wonder if he’s seething on the inside. And Denver’s decision to attempt a 64-yard field goal rather than “Let Russ Cook” is the talk of the NFL.

Let’s break it down in our first edition of the Good, the Bad and the Ugly of the 2022 season.

The Good

Wilson was excellent in his Denver debut. The Broncos QB threw for 340 yards and a touchdown, didn’t throw an interception and took just two sacks. His chemistry took a little bit of time to develop with stud wide receivers Jerry Jeudy and Courtland Sutton, but that trio is going to be special.

Jeudy had a 67-yard TD catch to get party started, showing off his electric speed that made him the No. 15 overall pick in the 2020 draft. Any time he got in space, good things happened. He finished with four catches for 102 yards while Sutton added four catches for 72 yards and several key third-down conversions.

Yes, the two WRs need more footballs thrown their way, but it was an encouraging start to the campaign. Other than the red zone failures, Denver’s starting offense looked sharp.

The Bad

Speaking of the red zone, it was bad. Very bad. Denver made three trips to the sacred spot on the field in the second half and came away with just three points. That’s almost hard to do. Rather than score all 21 points and win 34-17, they choked away multiple golden opportunities.

And the biggest culprits were Melvin Gordon and Javonte Williams, both fumbling on Seattle’s one-yard line on back-to-back drives. It’s the first time an NFL team had two fumbles at the one in a game since 1987. There’s no other way to say it, but Gordon and Williams failed the Broncos at key times. They failed Wilson in his return to Seattle and let down the whole team. Those fumbles just can’t happen.

Also, why were the Broncos in shotgun from the one in each scenario? That was perplexing. As were a lot of decisions made by Hackett, which leads us to…

The Ugly

Hackett’s head coaching debut could not have gone worse. From red zone play calling to a head-scratching final minute, the coach is leading sports talk shows around the country. And not in a good way. Peyton Manning’s live reaction says it all. This was a disaster in his first NFL game leading a team.

The decision has already been dissected time and time again, but choosing to kick a 64-yard field goal instead of let Wilson work his magic on fourth-and-five was an ugly one. Hackett can talk all he wants about how Denver was at a spot on the field they’re comfortable with for Brandon McManus, but the fact remains McManus is now just 1-8 on 60-plus yard field goals in his career.

Hackett needs to learn, and learn fast. Because what happened last night brought back memories of Vic Fangio and Vance Joseph. Those are two names no new coach of the Broncos wants to be compared with.

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