Denver Broncos handling of WR group after Tim Patrick injury was disappointing
When Tim Patrick went down in training camp with an ACL injury, many people in Broncos Country failed to see just how massive of a blow that was to the offense as a whole. Over the last couple of years, Tim Patrick has been a consistent source of offense for the Broncos, a player whose strong hands were taken for granted and someone who added a ton as a blocker in the running game as well.
The irony here is that the Broncos recognized Patrick’s importance to the roster as a whole by giving him a three-year contract just about a year ago worth $30 million in total money. That’s not a small chunk of change for anybody even though it’s a pretty good value for a receiver in today’s game with the pedigree of Tim Patrick.
When Patrick went down in training camp with an injury, the Broncos decided to do kind of what they’ve always done under George Paton, at least in many cases. Instead of going out and signing someone or trading for someone, Paton and this coaching staff went with the “next man up” mentality, obviously thinking that the healthy players on the roster and young guys behind them could pick up the slack.
Well, we’re all still waiting for that to happen.
I was clamoring for the Broncos to draft a receiver that could contribute offensively in 2022, and that didn’t really happen. Although Montrell Washington had an outstanding training camp, he’s almost been phased completely out of the offense at this point and is looking lost out there in the return game.
The Broncos had a couple of young rookies step up in camp like Jalen Virgil and Brandon Johnson, but those two have a combined one reception and two targets this season, both have which have come in the last two weeks.
Why was adding to the receiver room so important after Tim Patrick’s injury? You had the injury history of KJ Hamler and uncertainty of his ability to contribute this season, which as bitten the Broncos once again. You had Jerry Jeudy who missed 8 games last season due to injury and is now dealing with an ankle injury once again.
You also had Courtland Sutton, who received a contract extension in 2021 but was also coming off of a down year. That was chalked up to the quarterback play but Sutton has been arguably one of the biggest individual disappointments for the Broncos in 2022 so far. In the absence of Tim Patrick, the team hasn’t been able to consistently rely on anybody — Sutton included — as the weekly go-to target in the offense.
Not to say that they could have gone out and just gotten somebody to fill that void during training camp, but wide receivers have been readily available from teams across the league since early on in the 2022 offseason. Something should have been done and the offense is suffering as a result of the team’s lack of urgency to replace one of its best players at a premium position.