After trading for Russell Wilson and signing him to one of the most lucrative contracts in NFL history, the Denver Broncos find themselves with a measly 2-3 record after five games this season. Although they are only a K.J. Hamler reception away from having a winning record, this team may be one of the worst 2-3 teams we’ve ever seen. A picture of the 2022 Broncos can be found in the dictionary beside the word “dysfunctional.” This frustration unfortunately cannot be pinned on one specific person (that would make finding a solution far too easy now wouldn’t it), nearly everyone involved with the team is underperforming.
First year head coach, Nathaniel Hackett, has shown clear growing pains, and it appears he has not prepared his team to perform at even a mediocre NFL level. The Broncos currently lead the NFL in penalties. Penalties either hinder your team, or provide an advantage for the other. The Broncos lead in many negative categories including total penalties, penalty yards, holding penalties, offsides, delay of game, and false starts. Other than holding penalties, these other penalties are self-inflicted wounds, which can and should be easily avoided. Hackett also had a poor series of decision-making during the Week One bout with the Seattle Seahawks, potentially costing his team the game. To the credit of both the Broncos and Hackett, the team addressed this problem by hiring Jerry Rosburg to be a senior assistant to Hackett during games, which seems to be helping so far.
Another component to this early season debacle is the lack of ball security by the running backs. Javonte Williams is currently out for the season with a torn ACL, but his fumble at the goal line in Week One potentially cost the Broncos the game, erasing seven points from the Broncos in a game that was decided by a single point. Melvin Gordon was equally responsible for a lost fumble at the goal line in Week One, but his struggles have continued throughout the season thus far. Gordon currently leads all skill position players with four fumbles, and this does not include a fumble against the Colts in Week Five, which was luckily ruled down by contact. Gordon is a potential Hall of Famer who has performed admirably in the latter stages of his career, but if his ball security continues to be a problem, it’s hard to see this team going anywhere this season.
Last, but most certainly not least is the failures of Russell Wilson. Wilson has unequivocally been viewed as a top quarterback of this league every year for the past 10 years. He is being paid handsomely for his services and has looked as if he forgot how to play quarterback this season. Some news broke recently that Wilson has been dealing with an issue with his throwing shoulder, which can, of course, impact his ability to throw the ball. The problem with Wilson hasn’t been his throwing, it has been his decision-making. He seemingly has been unable to spot wide open receivers again and again. He seems often fixated into forcing the ball towards his favorite receiver, Courtland Sutton, rather than taking his time to make his reads. An example of this is seen clearly during the final play of the Broncos vs. Colts game, where Wilson chucks it towards Sutton, who had former defensive player of the year, Stephon Gilmore, draped all over him. Wilson never glanced in the direction of Hamler who was wide open for the game winning touchdown on a quick slant route. If a quarterback knows they want to throw to a certain player on a certain play, the quarterback will often hike the ball and look towards the other receivers for a moment, pulling the attention of the safeties and linebackers before turning to their intended target. Had Wilson done this, he would have won the game, but instead, he never took his eyes off one player, making his actions easy to predict.
The Broncos have a moderately difficult stretch of games over the next four weeks. They face the injured Los Angeles Chargers, New York Jets, Jacksonville Jaguars, and Tennessee Titans. These upcoming matchups will give us a better idea of what to expect from the Broncos moving forward. With a few extra days before their next game, the Broncos need to take this time to clean up the penalties and get Wilson in the right headspace. On the bright side, the Broncos defense is elite, allowing less than 18 points in four of five games this season. This team is also a goal line fumble and a Hamler catch away from being 4-1, so it is a bit soon to write them off. The NFL is constantly evolving as players and coaches are changing game to game and year to year. It’s time for a change in play because if things continue going as they are, we may see a head coaching change sooner rather than later, and eventually, a quarterback change as well.