POSTGAME GRADES

Broncos-Raiders grades: Russell Wilson gets high marks

Oct 4, 2022, 9:16 PM | Updated: Oct 5, 2022, 3:27 am
Russell Wilson...
(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

The good part for the Broncos is this: They have another exam Thursday.

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OFFENSE

QUARTERBACK: A-minus

Russell Wilson was three drops away from completing 80 percent of his passes. He once again galvanized the offense on a fourth-quarter drive. And for the second consecutive game, effective scrambles helped diversify the offense. It didn’t result in a win, but this was the Wilson the Broncos expected when they acquired him.

RUNNING BACK: C-minus

It starts with Melvin Gordon’s fumble. But Gordon also dropped a pass, as did Mike Boone, while Boone also got caught out of position in pass protection, leading to an early sack. What all had in common was little room to run; 92 percent of the running backs’ yards came after contact because defenders poured through. In general, Boone, Gordon and the injured Javonte Williams did what they could with what they had in front of them.

WIDE RECEIVERS: B

Just one drop marred the day — by Jeudy, on a pass that wasn’t perfectly on target. But he made up for it by getting low to haul in a 20-yard touchdown in the second quarter. Overall, Jeudy got back on track, KJ Hamler made the most of his four snaps and Courtland Sutton consistently got open, while Kendall Hinton showed some dynamism when targeted. Nature abhors a vacuum, and after four games, the void created by Tim Patrick’s season-ending torn ACL is starting to fill.

TIGHT END: C-minus

It was a not a day of general distinguishment for the group. They weren’t involved much in the passing game as targets; Saubert’s 25-yard catch was the only reception from the position. The work in the blocking phase was inconsistent.

OFFENSIVE LINE: D

For the group as a whole, Week 4 was one to forget. Three holding penalties — including two against Garett Bolles — brought back memories of past years, preferably excised from the memory. For a second consecutive game, over 80 percent of the running backs’ yardage came after contact because defenders met them in the backfield too often.

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DEFENSE

DEFENSIVE LINE: B

Both Dre’Mont Jones and D.J. Jones had standout work against the run. The former’s red-zone work in particular helped the Raiders settle for a field goal instead of a touchdown, and the latter had his best pass-rush day to date, not just because of a sack, but four pressures in total.

EDGE RUSHERS: C-minus

Among the Broncos’ outside linebackers, only Randy Gregory got to Derek Carr. He hit Carr twice and had another three pressures. The impact of his loss could be profound in the short term, but if Baron Browning and Nik Bonitto can grow with expanded work, Denver has the chance to have the kind of edge depth it last had in 2016. But for now, the Broncos must make do without the player responsible for the unit’s highest pressure rate this season.

INSIDE LINEBACKERS: C

Josey Jewell held up well against the run, but the Raiders picked at Jewell and Jonas Griffith in coverage, setting up mismatches that led to intermediate — but damaging — gains. They should get a respite against the Colts, but the Broncos can expect teams to try to force coverage duels like the ones that led to both Jewell and Griffith trailing Davante Adams.

CORNERBACKS: B

Pat Surtain II’s high-leverage work against Adams was a highlight of not only the day, but the season to date. K’Waun Williams’ sack of Carr was another reminder of why the Broncos targeted him in free agency. His longtime effectiveness as a blitzing slot corner brings another dimension to his game.

SAFETIES: C

Las Vegas didn’t test Caden Sterns and Kareem Jackson often. Frankly, that comes as no surprise, given how Carr generally attacks Denver’s defense in recent years. Sterns missed a pair of tackle opportunities on what proved to be a frustrating day overall.

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SPECIAL TEAMS

KICKING: C-plus

The missed extra point was no fault of Brandon McManus. It started with a high Jacob Bobenmoyer snap that Corliss Waitman fielded, but couldn’t get down properly. When the process was fine, McManus was 3-of-3 on placekicks, hitting two PATs and a short field goal. But this grade is for the whole kicking process. McManus’ kickoff placement was solid.

PUNTING: B

Waitman’s hang times were fine, and he endured a bad break when Essang Bassey was blocked out of position to down a punt inside of the 5-yard line.

RETURNS: B-plus

AJ Cole’s low, line-drive punts played into Montrell Washington’s hands — literally and figuratively. His vision, improved decisiveness and burst gave him three returns all in excess of 15 yards apiece.

KICKOFF/PUNT COVERAGE: B

The work improved after the first kickoff, which saw Brandon Bolden navigate through coverage for 32 yards, setting Las Vegas up for a game-opening field-goal drive. Saubert and Griffith had particularly good work in coverage.

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