Grading the Denver Broncos first quarter of the season

Denver Broncos, Tyrie Cleveland, Courtland Sutton - Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
Denver Broncos, Tyrie Cleveland, Courtland Sutton - Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports /

After roughly one-quarter of the season, what letter grades could we assign to the Denver Broncos as they begin the second quarter of play?  The Broncos have largely underwhelmed so far in 2022, but they stand at 2-2 and have a very winnable game against the Indianapolis Colts on Thursday night.

In analyzing all three units of the team, which ones have performed the best, and which ones have struggled the most?  I think it’s clear that the offense has been the weak link.  The defense has been great, and I suppose the special teams have been just fine.  If we were to give letter grades for each of the Denver Broncos’ personnel units after one-quarter of play, what would they be?

Denver Broncos unit grades after one-quarter of the 2022 season

Offense, D+

The offense gets a D+ through one quarter and has dug themselves an early hole.  They have the 30th-ranked scoring offense in the NFL, averaging 16.5 points per game.  It is, so far, an unfortunate duplication of what we’ve seen from 2016-2021.

Russell Wilson hasn’t been great, either.  He has thrown four touchdown passes against just one interception, and to be fair, the interception was not his fault.  His 61.1% completion percentage is very low and taking 12 sacks does not make the situation better.

Courtland Sutton has led the way, ranking 6th in the NFL with 343 receiving yards.  Jerry Jeudy has caught two touchdown passes himself.  There isn’t much more to say other than the unit needs to be much, much better going forward.

Defense, A-

The defense gets an A-.  They were nothing short of excellent up until their rushing defense gave up 800 yards to the Las Vegas Raiders in a week four loss.  Outside of that one hiccup, they rank 5th in the NFL in scoring defense, allowing just 17.0 points per game.

First-year defensive coordinator Ejiro Evero has done a fabulous job.  The pass rush appears to be fixed and Patrick Surtain II is at worst a top-five cornerback in football.  It’s clear that the defense will need to carry the load until the offense can figure something out.

Special Teams, C+

The Denver Broncos’ special teams have been just OK, in my opinion.  Montrell Washington has been a stud so far in the return game.  He has the most punt return yards in the NFL and ranks second in punt return average.  

He also ranks 18th in the NFL in kickoff return average.  As a rookie, these are excellent numbers.  As for the punting and kicking, they have been better.  Corliss Waitman’s 46 yards per punt ranks 20th in the NFL.  His net average ranks 25th, but he does have the fourth most punts inside the 20-yard line.

Brandon McManus’ eight made field goals have him tied with several other kickers for fourth most in the league.  He also has the third most made from 50+ yards.  However, his 80% field goal percentage is tied for the 26th-highest rate in the NFL.

As more field goals are kicked, the hope is that McManus knocks more through, because attempting 50+ yard field goals is less rare than shorter distances, where McManus and most other kickers excel the most.