Denver Broncos: Grading week one game versus New York

Denver Broncos defense. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports
Denver Broncos defense. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports /
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Denver Broncos, Von Miller
Denver Broncos outside linebacker Von Miller /

Denver Broncos Defense Grade, B

This is a little bit of a hard grade, but overall the defense did well in the game. The only reason I say B grade is simply due to the yardage given up to Sterling Shepard. Yet, if we are being honest, it’s better to let Shepard beat you than some of the other playmakers on the team.

From a Giants’ perspective, Shepard playing well is a great sign for an offense that missed Evan Engram. It’s also why it’s understandable to be a little upset Shepard torched a secondary expected to be a strength.

Here’s the thing though. Whether it’s the offense or the defense, we have to be careful not to have ridiculous expectations because of what happened in the off-season, offense in week one, defense in week one, etc.

Fans have to understand from the secondary perspective things will take a little bit to gel. For instance, Pat Surtain II should be a solid player in the NFL for years to come; however, expecting All-Pro or Pro Bowl play immediately is ridiculous to ask for from the rookie right away. Surtain struggled against Shepard but he will bounce back.

Furthermore, the secondary in general will take a bit to gel. There are three new faces in that cornerback room. Kyle Fuller had a few redemptive plays where he looked like a shutdown corner he’s been. He also struggled to keep up at times with the Giants’ receivers. The impressive part is that despite seeing some of these struggles they still only allowed 13 points. Six of that came in garbage time in the final minutes.

With Saquon Barkley’s return, the question was how impactful would he be playing in week one since the devastating injury of 2020. The Denver Broncos did an incredible job the entire time neutralizing anything Barkley did as a runner.

In my opinion, it’s clear how much this team needed Shelby Harris and Mike Purcell back. Purcell is arguably the most underrated defender on the Denver Broncos defense and he made his presence felt throughout. Another lineman was Dre’Mont Jones.

Jones is close to inserting his name into star status with some of the defensive linemen in this league. On Sunday you could not block him. Frankly, Jones has to be in a conversation about being the best defender the entire game for the Broncos. A great sight for a potentially great year for Jones.

The last noticeable thing from the Giants game was the pass rush. If I was flexible to grade on a curve it’d be a B+ simply due to the performance of Von Miller. Miller missed all of the 2020 season due to another tragic injury. In the game against the Giants, he had flashbacks to his old self.

Miller looked faster and quicker than he did in 2018 and 2017. It was a surreal sight for the Broncos and fans to see that unfold. Next to Chandler Jones of the Arizona Cardinals, you won’t find a more dominant performance on Sunday than Miller’s.

The second takeaway is the Broncos’ pass rush after Miller. Sunday, the Denver Broncos were missing Bradley Chubb. The team made a precautionary decision to sit him out one more game then reevaluate him next week. As it turned out, the Broncos depth of Jonathon Cooper, Malik Reed, and Andre Mintze played so well they helped create pressure for Daniel Jones and getting to Barkley in the backfield.

Despite the secondary still “getting to know each other” and allowing some big plays they did quite well for the first time on the field together.