DC Ijiro Efero
The first-year defensive coordinator continues to impress. He has a talented group to work with, but even with injuries and trade-offs, the Broncos continue to produce on Eveiro’s side of the ball. Playing without a long list of players, including recently traded linebacker Bradley Chubb, injured starters like safety Justin Simmons, outside linebackers Baron Browning and Randy Gregory, cornerbacks Ronald Darby, Eveiro and company still managed to keep Derrick Henry to 53 rushing yards. And Denver kept the game on Sunday until the dying seconds. Eveiro’s name is likely to come up in head coaching talks this winter, and whether he gets a job or not, his name is known going forward.
ILB Josie Jewell
The veteran full-back put together another solid game on Sunday, helping lead the charge against Henry. He finished with nine tackles. Not only that, but after the game, Jewell couldn’t help but smile at the way Denver played certain situations with three linebackers—him, Alex Singleton, and Jonas Griffith—all on the field at the same time. Jewell has missed some time due to several injuries this season, but when he’s on the field, he’s an impact player. He played every game against Tennessee.
Thread sensor here? Depth is worth pointing out on its own. During the opening few series on Sunday afternoon, the Broncos got defensive plays from guys like PJ Locke, primarily a third-string safety, cornerback Isang Bassi and newly acquired outside linebacker Jacob Martin. “We’ve got a lot of good players in defence,” Jewell said simply after the match.
The rookie undrafted wide receiver from Appalachian State made his NFL debut and did it with a flash. His first catch: a 66-yard touchdown run by Russell Wilson that put the Broncos up 7-0 against Tennessee. Virgil, who made the roster from training camp largely because of his blistering pace, played 24 shots. He may be counted on more over the last eight games depending on the injury recovery schedules of both KJ Hamler (hamstring) and Jerry Jeudy (ankle)
It’s hard to view this loss as anything but a blow to the first-year coach. Denver had a chance to go 4-5 and would have woken up Monday morning with a much different outlook had they found a way to beat the Titans. Not only that, but the Broncos’ 10 points mark the fourth time in nine games that they’ve scored 11 or fewer this season. They were last in the NFL in scoring at 14.6 points per game, didn’t find much in the way of solutions throughout the week and had nine byes in 12 non-kneeling campaigns on Sunday.
bet on more
Even with several defensive starters for each team, Sunday’s game wasn’t likely to be a high-scoring game. Neither Denver nor Tennessee have scored more than 24 points in a game this season, and odds makers put the total points at about 40. Even then, the Broncos and Titans were no closer to making it to the end. It came as no surprise to Denver, who was last in the NFL in scoring and first in the NFL in defensive scoring. That’s cool in itself. It’s not great if you’re a die-hard fan.
Denver’s offensive line hasn’t been a strong point, really, at any point this season, and now it’s been decimated by injury. The Broncos finished the game Sunday with a third-string left tackle, third-string right tackle and third-string quarterback around his favorite starting quarterback at guard. So far this season, four of the five starting players have lost significant time with injuries, and the current injured list includes left tackle Garrett Bowles, right tackle Billy Turner, center Lloyd Cushenberry, swing tackle Cam Fleming, top inside reserve, and second quarterback Graham. Glasgow and reserves tackle Tom Compton. Results? Russell Wilson was sacked six times and struck out 18 times Sunday, including five and 13 times, respectively, in the second inning.
Consider the playoff
With playoff odds of 538, Denver entered Sunday’s game with an 8% chance of making the playoffs. Had they won, that number would have jumped over 25%, not great, but definitely a lot better. Instead, the Broncos number is now 3%. After the game, the Broncos looked like a team that knew their slim postseason hopes had gone out the window. At 3-6, this team is in a bad spot: heading in the wrong direction without even the benefit of being selected in the first round as a silver lining for a poor record. The only good news is that the Broncos are playing bad teams for the next couple of weeks, and in theory they could start December with a 5-6 record. Even that is far from certain.