Key Broncos starter must improve following brutal Week 1 performance

Second-year CB Damarri Mathis must bounce back in Week 2

Denver Broncos
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Second-year cornerback Damarri Mathis was expected to take a leap forward as Denver's starting corner opposite All-Pro Patrick Surtain II this season. After a solid training camp, Mathis looked poised for a big leap in 2023, but after a shaky outing in week one, it seems the Denver secondary is not as secure as once thought.

Tasked with shadowing receiver Jakobi Meyers for most of the game, Mathis surrendered two touchdowns and a plethora of key plays to Meyers in a 17-16 loss. While it is far too early in the season to make any fair judgments about Mathis, his performance on Sunday should cause some concern. Mathis may very well turn the ship around and have a great 2023 campaign, but if he remains stagnant, it could spell trouble for a cornerback room that is dangerously thin.

Beyond Mathis, there are not too many options for the Broncos. Essang Bassey- Denver's best depth piece at corner- is already filling in for K'Waun Williams who is on injured reserve. Fabian Moreau, Ja'Quan McMillian, and Tremon Smith fill out the depth chart, but none would be significant upgrades over Mathis. Rookie Riley Moss has generated some excitement, but due to injury circumstances, he is not likely to see game action any time soon.

As it stands now, the Broncos need Mathis to play well. He is currently the best and only option the team has to fill its second corner spot. If Mathis fails to turn his play around, Denver will be forced to make some changes in the secondary.

Thankfully for the Broncos, Patrick Surtain II ensures Denver will never have to fully panic at the cornerback position. In week one, Surtain held All-Pro receiver Devante Adams in check. According to Next Gen Stats, Surtain allowed just two receptions for 11 yards when covering Adams.

Surtain's presence as a lock-down corner provides a certain level of stability for the defense. It also forces opposing quarterbacks to pick on other secondary members, making Mathis' level of play imperative to the defense's success.


As mentioned before, it is far too early to write off Mathis. Every corner has a bad game at some point, it is the nature of the position. Up to this point in his career, he has put more positives than negatives on tape and should be expected to perform better in the coming weeks. I believe Mathis can and will turn it around, but if his struggles continue, it will be a glaring weakness in the Broncos' secondary that will continue to be exploited.

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