There have been so many positive injury updates over the last several days for the Denver Broncos, I almost don’t quite know what to do with myself. Although there have also been some unfortunate injuries resulting in players going on season-ending IR, the Broncos have brought back a handful of guys in recent weeks including offensive tackle Billy Turner, obviously quarterback Russell Wilson will be back this week, running back Chase Edmonds is coming off of IR, and Courtland Sutton is returning to practice this week as we approach Christmas Day.
Could the Broncos truly be poised to finish the 2022 season stronger than we initially may have thought? Certainly, the team is in better shape now than it was just three weeks ago, especially considering the defense has forced six interceptions in the last two games (eight in the last three) and the offense has scored 28 and 24 points respectively the last two games.
Courtland Sutton’s return is a big test for the Broncos’ coaching staff
With Sutton returning to the lineup following a hamstring injury, I think we’re going to see a very big test for the coaching staff led by Nathaniel Hackett. Hackett is coaching for his “life” in the NFL. I think if he’s one-and-done for the Broncos, this may very well be the only shot he gets as an NFL head coach…ever.
So why is Courtland Sutton’s return to the lineup so huge for the Broncos? Well, for the majority of the last three weeks, we haven’t seen Sutton and Jerry Jeudy on the field together. While Sutton has been out, Jeudy has had to shoulder the WR1 load and he has, quite frankly, impressed everyone greatly in that role. He’s shifted from playing primarily in the slot to playing a lot more on the outside, and the results have been fantastic.
While Jeudy has shined the last couple of games, it’s been a pretty disappointing year for Courtland Sutton. Sutton’s 2022 season has been plagued by drops and now a hamstring injury, but he has had a chance over the last three weeks to really reset and his return to the lineup comes with the team having previously unheard-of success with Jerry Jeudy.
If Courtland Sutton comes back and his presence in the lineup hinders the momentum the team has found with Jerry Jeudy, it will — in my opinion — be a huge indictment on the coaching staff, and perhaps even Russell Wilson. The Broncos have unlocked something by utilizing Jerry Jeudy on the outside. They need to continue to do so
In the meantime, the coaching staff needs to show its ability to make adjustments to how they align personnel and move Courtland Sutton around, finding ways to get him involved without clipping Jerry Jeudy’s wings. That doesn’t have to mean a “diminished” role for Sutton, either. It can mean both players have success, believe it or not.
Not only do you have Sutton back out there this week, but you have Chase Edmonds returning and the offense coming off of its most successful game running the ball all year long. Although it’s not the first time these guys have been on the field together, the Broncos have arguably the best personnel offensively healthy and available that they have had in the post-Javonte Williams injury months.
- QB: Russell Wilson
- WR: Jerry Jeudy
- WR: Courtland Sutton
- TE: Greg Dulcich
- RB: Latavius Murray/Marlon Mack/Chase Edmonds
Then you factor in some of the other role players like Freddie Swain (who started for the Broncos on Sunday and has a history with Russ) and other rookies like Jalen Virgil, Brandon Johnson, and Montrell Washington — you now have role players playing their “role” as role players instead of shouldering the load offensively.
You have Wilson back at the helm coming off of his best game of the season vs. Kansas City. You have Jeudy building a lot of momentum and showing some of the best stuff we’ve seen from him in his career. Dulcich has obviously been making plays pretty much whenever he’s gotten chances. The running game is building momentum.
I mean, is it really crazy to think that this is a chance for the coaching staff to go out there and show something in a big way against Sean McVay’s Rams? Yes, the Rams are beaten and battered, a shell of the team that won the Super Bowl last year, but that’s part of the reason why this test is so huge for Hackett and his staff.
Members of Broncos Country seem to think that firing Nathaniel Hackett is a foregone conclusion, but is that the case? How could they justify him staying?
They have to go out there against an inferior opponent on paper and make sure they get a “signature” win while proving they can manipulate matchups and personnel properly.