Broncos-Titans grades: No offense, but where is it?
DENVER — Once again, Denver’s offense failed to launch — and failed to get high marks.
Wilson is lucky that he didn’t have three times as many interceptions as the one with which he ended up. He moved his way into at least one of his sacks. His accuracy also continues to be down from his career norms, and even a pair of dropped passes wouldn’t have helped his production much.
RUNNING BACKS: C-minus
Melvin Gordon’s pass-pro work saw him singlehandedly prevented at least one sacks. But he also dropped a pass, and his season-long drop rate is his worst since 2018 (excepting the 2020 season, when he played just one half before tearing his ACL). Latavius Murray was solid, but once again, explosive runs were non-existent. Denver is the only NFL team without a 20-yard run this season.
WIDE RECEIVERS: C-plus
Kendall Hinton slid into Jerry Jeudy’s spot and showed no drop-off, despite his practice work largely coming in place of KJ Hamler, who injured his hamstring five days before the game. Courtland Sutton had a pair of spectacular catches that rival his best work. But he had a drop/
TIGHT ENDS: C-minus
Greg Dulcich came oh-so-close to an explosive play, with a pass from Wilson just glancing off of his hand. It wasn’t his best day as a run blocker, but that is to be expected, given how much practice time he missed prior to coming off of injured reserve. There will be days like this for the rookie. Eric Tomlinson had a rough day, punctuated by a false-start infraction.
OFFENSIVE LINE: D
Not all of the 18 quarterback hits were on the offensive line; some came as a result of Wilson trying to extend plays and run for his life. But the Titans attacked Calvin Anderson, leading to several pressures on Wilson. Fill-in center Luke Wattenberg didn’t have proper timing on some snaps early after replacing Graham Glasgow, but it stands to reason give the relative paucity of pracitce snaps he had with Russell Wilson. Billy Turner’s knee problems derailed what had been an excellent early portion of the game from him. Furthermore, three of the Broncos’ five starting offensive lineman committed penalties. All in all, not the best day.
DEFENSIVE LINE: A-minus
Dre’Mont Jones made a solid acquittal of himself in a hybrid role that saw him work as a stand-up edge defender. Pressure and penetration was consistent from the group throughout the day. A fairly strong performance by Jonathan Harris helped earn him a 53-man roster spot and could lead to more repetitions going forward.
EDGE RUSHERS: B-minus
Jacob Martin had the Broncos’ only sack of the day. He also had an offside penalty. Jonathon Cooper had a pair of pressures and solid against the run. But it was Nik Bonitto’s work at setting the edge which showed the most promise — given that was a responsibility he did not have at Oklahoma. With multiple pressures on Ryan Tannehill, it was a promising day overall for the second-round pick.
INSIDE LINEBACKERS: A
Jonas Griffith saw limited work, and the Broncos might have found a new base combination in Alex Singleton and Josey Jewell, both of whom flourished against the run, diagnosing the Titans’ intent quickly. Their work against the run was stronger than it was in pass coverage, but against the Titans, containing Derrick Henry was Job No. 1. They did it well.
To no one’s surprise, Tannehill stayed away from Pat Surtain. He threw at him just twice. K’Waun Williams was active, but also committed a defensive-holding penalty before succumbing to a knee injury. The collision on the flea-flicker that started with Damarri Mathis breaking back was unfortunate, but Mathis had a generally solid day aside from that.
Kareem Jackson found himself trailing on the Titans’ first touchdown and flailing on the second, missing a tackle. The first touchdown saw the Broncos in a cover-zero look, leaving him isolated and a smidgen slow on what turned out to be a perfect thrown and catch. His missed tackle on Nick Westbrook-Ikhine following the flea flicker put the Broncos behind to stay. It was Jackson’s fourth game with multiple missed tackles. Both Jackson and P.J. Locke delivered solid run support. Locke also missed a tackle, but was effective in coverage in what proved to be a solid first start.
Brandon McManus drilled both of his placekicks, and the operation appeared crisp.
Waitman’s hang times were down compared to other weeks. Four of his nine punts had a hang time of fewer than 4.00 seconds, setting up substantial returns. His net average was well below
KICKOFF/PUNT RETURNS: D
Montrell Washington’s decision to let Ryan Stonehouse’s first punt sail over his head and bounce down to the Denver 4-yard line was unfortunate. Substantial ardage was nearly impossible to find for Washington on punts and Tyrie Cleveland on a pair of short kickoffs. Cleveland committed an illegal-block-above-the-waist penalty on a fourth-quarter punt return that forced Denver to start a possession from inside its 20-yard line.
KICKOFF/PUNT COVERAGE: C
The Broncos’ punt coverage was done no favors by Waitman’s difficult day when it came to hang time. Tennessee had three punt returns of at least 12 yards. Kickoff coverage was generally solid.