Broncos defensive struggles continue in loss to Commanders

The Denver Broncos' defense struggled to contain Sam Howell and the Commanders offense in week two.

Washington Commanders v Denver Broncos
Washington Commanders v Denver Broncos / Jamie Schwaberow/GettyImages

After a disappointing outing in week one, the Denver defense seemed poised for a bounce-back performance in week two. Instead, the defense was scorched by the Commanders offense en route to a 35-33 loss. The Broncos were expected to make life miserable for Sam Howell, but the young quarterback had no problems at all dicing up the Denver defense to the tune of 299 passing yards and two touchdowns.

Patrick Surtain II and Justin Simmons- Denver's two All-Pros- had fine performances, but the rest of the secondary struggled once again. Damarri Mathis was better than he was in week one, but still surrendered a handful of big completions, Kareem Jackson was ejected in the first half due to a vicious hit on Logan Thomas and Fabian Moreau cost the Broncos a crucial third down stop when he was called for holding late in the game.

Obviously, a few mistakes in the secondary are to be expected, but this makes two weeks in a row where gaffes on the back end have cost the Broncos dearly. The secondary was once thought of as Denver's strongest unit, but now it seems to be its most glaring weakness. If things don't change quickly, it will be another very long season.

The Broncos' defensive front fared better than the secondary, but still failed to be impactful enough to stop Washington's air attack. Denver recorded four sacks- an improvement from a sack-less week one showing- but none of it mattered thanks to the Commanders screen passing game. Washington running backs Antonio Gibson and Brian Robinson Jr. each gashed the Broncos for 20 or more yards on screen passes, and the Commander tight ends enjoyed some easy yardage as well.

Whether it was screen passes, chunk plays over the middle or simple handoffs, the Commanders did whatever they wanted, and the Denver defense could do nothing to stop it.

The Raiders and Commanders are far from the most difficult challenges the Bronco defense will face this year. The Broncos will see a speedy and high-flying Miami offense in week three, and as of now, it looks like the Denver defense will be in for another long Sunday.

Vance Joseph's return to Denver as defensive coordinator was received with a healthy dose of skepticism, and so far, it appears the critics were right. Under former defensive coordinator Ejiro Evero- now with the Panthers- the Broncos had a top five defensive unit. With mostly the same players and same scheme, Joseph is leading a defense that looks to be among the worst in the league. It is still early in the season, but patience for Joseph and his defense is running dry.

It feels weird to harp on the defense for a poor performance. Over the last seven years, Broncos fans have grown accustomed to blaming the offense for soul-crushing defeats. I guess it's just the defense's turn.