Game Overview ::
By Hilow >>
- Jaylen Waddle suffered a concussion in Week 2 and has yet to practice this week, as of Thursday.
- Salvon Ahmed has yet to practice with a groin injury, as of Thursday.
- The Broncos have largely struggled to get their offense going through multiple key injuries.
- Jerry Jeudy ran 66 percent of his snaps from the slot in his first game action of the 2023 season, which is more in line with his career rates (and much higher than his slot snap rate in 2022 of just over 37 percent).
- Raheem Mostert’s 73 percent snap rate and the successes of McDaniel’s outside zone run scheme come together to provide an excellent range of outcomes profile.
How Denver will try to Win ::
The Broncos have averaged 65 offensive plays per game behind a modest pace of play (20th-ranked 29.2 seconds per play) and the sixth-highest pass rate over expectation value. It appears this offense is still trying to find its way in certain aspects, which makes sense considering the massive changes the team undertook this offseason. One of the strengths of this team is its offensive line, which has underperformed in pass-blocking metrics but overperformed in run-blocking metrics through two games. Right tackle Mike McGlinchey, who came over from the 49ers during the offseason, has allowed 13 pressures through two games after allowing just 30 during the entirety of the 2022 season. Left tackle Garret Bolles has allowed just two sacks since Week 7 of last year. Right guard Quinn Meinerz has dominated inside, blocking to a massive 82.9 run-blocking grade from PFF over the first two weeks of the season. Left guard Ben Powers is a plus run-blocker but suspect in the passing game. Finally, center Lloyd Cushenberry has proven to be a well-rounded interior offensive lineman this season after struggling with run-blocking a season ago.
The backfield has been a veritable disaster when compared to historical usage and production trends under Sean Payton. Javonte Williams has been utilized as the primary early-down back while Samaje Perine has played as the change of pace and long down-and-distance back, as we thought coming into the season, but the efficiency and utilization have been far below expectations. The Broncos are currently tied with Kansas City and Chicago with only 22.5 rush attempts per game through two weeks, and the backfield tandem has accounted for just 25.5 running back opportunities per game. Considering a snap split almost down the middle (45/45 percent snap rate split in Week 1 and 50/45 percent snap rate split in Week 2), that doesn’t leave a ton of opportunities for either back. That said, Vic Fangio’s nickel-heavy, 2-high defensive scheme would seem to give opposing coaches the ability to attack more relentlessly on the ground, something we could see transpire here assuming the game script doesn’t get out of hand.
Circling back to the uncertainty regarding how we expect the Broncos offense to operate, we haven’t had a game where all their pieces have been healthy yet. Jerry Jeudy missed Week 1 and returned to 68 percent of the offensive snaps in Week 2. Tight end Greg Dulcich was placed on injured reserve following Week 1 with another hamstring injury. Lil’Jordan Humphrey and Brandon Johnson, two practice squad wide receivers, have played around 50 percent of the offensive snaps through two games. Rookie wide receiver and field-stretcher Marvin Mims has played 17 and 16 offensive snaps during the first two weeks of the season. Coming into the season, I expected Mims to be an integral piece in the offense, capable of exploiting a defense deep and manipulating safeties. That hasn’t come to fruition just yet – Payton might want more from Mims than what he has seen to this point. Once at peak health and effectiveness, I would expect Mims to operate in the “Z” role, with Sutton playing his standard “X” and Jeudy allowed to return to a heavier slot role. Jeudy’s low snap rate in Week 2 means less when you consider he was in a route on every designed pass play and played 30 of his 45 snaps from the slot, which is right in line with his 2021 slot snap rate (when he was more of a full-time slot receiver). Tight end Adam Trautman should continue to serve as the primary every-down tight end in the absence of Dulcich, but brings limited upside with a more catch-and-fall athletic profile.