Broncos-Jets grades: Yards don’t translate into points
The interesting thing about the Broncos’ offensive performance is this: It was only putrid on the scoreboard. They had a season-high in first downs with 21. They had just one three-and-out after the first quarter, at one point moving the chains on seven consecutive series.
But the Broncos continue to struggle at turning yardage and solid play design into points.
Those awaiting a miracle from Brett Rypien didn’t receive it. He operated well within the structure of the offense and made some good reads. He also struggled at times with getting his feet settled, leading to some air-mailed throws. His interception into a thicket of Jets defenders provided a bad flashback to his first start two years ago, and on fourth-and-10 in the final minute, he bypassed a wide-open Greg Dulcich underneath in favor of an optimistic shot to KJ Hamler in double coverage downfield. Rypien now has a career passer rating of 58.9 on 88 attempts, and if he gets further work and continues to play at that level, the Broncos could be shopping for a new No. 2 next offseason.
RUNNING BACKS: B-minus
Mike Boone showed burst before he suffered a high-ankle sprain, and Latavius Murray and Melvin Gordon did well at fighting through contact, although their days were largely unspectacular. Neither yet shows the same explosiveness of younger days. With Boone on injured reserve, the Broncos should consider using Murray in potential pass-pro situations.
WIDE RECEIVERS: B-minus
Jerry Jeudy seems to have some of his best days with Rypien. Two of his four longest receptions as a Bronco came in Rypien’s two starts. The offense operating simply within structure seemed to help Jeudy, whose route-running has not been in question throughout the season. The physicality of Sauce Gardner should have resulted in at least two penalties, but the Broncos can’t rely on officials to save them — especially when, as seen on the fourth-and-3 in the final two minutes, the route starts with back-and-forth hand-fighting that will
TIGHT ENDS: B-minus
Greg Dulcich still has a ways to go as a run blocker, but his routes were crisp and only a drop marred his day. Eric Tomlinson delivered solid work as a blocker, particularly on his pass-pro repetitions. Eric Saubert wasn’t involved much and is clearly the No. 3 tight end; he drew a penalty Sunday.
OFFENSIVE LINE: C-plus
Too much pressure came up the middle, which was a concern going into this game against a defensive interior anchored by Quinnen Williams. Lloyd Cushenberry had a particularly rough go of it. The run blocking was never better than it was on the Broncos’ first-quarter touchdown drive. The unit played a clean game in terms of timing and drew no penalties. Quinn Meinerz had an above-average day in pass protection.
DEFENSIVE LINE: A-minus
Dre’Mont Jones kept Zach Wilson under duress most of the day, but D.J. Jones also brought consistent pressure on his pass-rush snaps. On a week-to-week basis, Denver’s defensive line is arguably the team’s strongest unit, with both Joneses grading out well on a consistent basis. Matt Henningsen was also effective winning his matchups against the run.
EDGE RUSHERS: B
Wilson’s mobility kept the Broncos’ edge rushers in chase mode for most of the day, although Bradley Chubb, Baron Browning and Jonathon Cooper each had multiple pressures. Cooper still appears to be ahead of Nik Bonitto in all-around effectiveness and might end up getting the starting call in place of Browning this week. Bonitto will have to improve against the run to work his way up, but he’ll have some snaps to demonstrate progress in London.
INSIDE LINEBACKERS: C-minus
Too many missed tackles was the story of the day. Jonas Griffith and Alex Singleton each missed three tackles apiece. Griffith was left trailing on Michael Carter’s 37-yard catch-and-run, which wasn’t a favorable matchup for the second-year ILB.
Pat Surtain went largely unchallenged by Wilson, who threw in Surtain’s direction just twice. K’Waun Williams drew a controversial — but crucial — pass-interference penalty, leading to a late Jets field goal. Damarri Mathis played a cleaner game in his second NFL start and did well at keeping everything in front of him/
With Wilson running for his life and focused on short routes, Kareem Jackson and Justin Simmons had a quiet day as they went mostly untested.
The entire operation struggled. Corliss Waitman didn’t get the hold down on the extra point properly, leading to Brandon McManus’ second missed PAT of the season. The first miss, in Las Vegas, came after a wayward Jacob Bobenmoyer snap. McManus missed wide right from 56 yards. Thanks to a blocked field goal against Indianapolis and three misses from beyond 50 yards — including the ill-advised 64-yarder in Week 1 — McManus ranks 24th of 32 eligible kickers in field-goal success rate.
Waitman had one punt off the side of of his foot, but aside from that, he did his job. The Jets returned nine of his 6 punts and 3 landed inside the 20-yard line.
KICKOFF/PUNT RETURNS: I (Incomplete)
Montrell Washington’s only return covered 2 yards.
KICKOFF/PUNT COVERAGE: I (Incomplete)
Waitman’s hang times ensured that no punts were returned. McManus’ four touchbacks on kickoffs meant that no kickoffs were run back.