Week 2 of the 2023 NFL Season is almost here, and the undefeated Washington Commanders will face the winless Denver Broncos on Sunday.
Denver is reeling after losing a close game to the Raiders in Week 1, while Washington pulled out a close win over Arizona. This week’s game will be a fascinating matchup between two teams that have a lot of parallels; both emphasize defense, hope that new coaching can reinvigorate the offense, and have mobile QBs with strong arms. The game is critical to the playoff hopes of each. Denver can’t afford to lose its first two home games in a tough division.
I asked Ian St. Clair of Mile High Report five questions to understand more about the state of the Broncos and what to look for in the game.
1) Sean Payton and the new coaches are off to a slow start after losing to division rival Las Vegas on Sunday. How are their offensive and defensive schemes different this year? What’s different in the culture they are trying to instill?
Despite the fact the Broncos offense only scored 16 points, you can see the improvement. Russell Wilson led some sustained drives, they were more effective in the red zone, didn’t turn the ball over and ran the ball well. The problem came from the lack of explosive plays. The biggest concern is the defense. Some in Broncos Country questioned the hiring of Vance Joseph as defensive coordinator. Sunday did nothing to alleviate those concerns. The Broncos got next to zero pressure on Jimmy Garoppolo, with three quarterback hits and no sacks. I’m not sure what the defensive scheme is, but Payton and the coaches already need to change it heading into Week 2. It’s disappointing because the Broncos finally contained Josh Jacobs.
As for the culture, it’s already changed. The culture of the last seven years will no longer be acceptable. Players, coaches and front office personnel will be held accountable. Given how bad the Broncos have been since Super Bowl 50, it’ll take time. Before Denver can learn how to win games, it needs to learn how not to lose them.
- 2) Russell Wilson got a well-covered, tough initial reception from Payton. How has Wilson responded? Do you expect him to be much improved this year, or is his career just on a downhill slide?
Wilson has been open and wants the hard coaching from Payton. Even in the loss to the Raiders, Wilson looked better than at any point last season. The next step is the explosive plays. I felt coming into the season that Wilson would be much improved. That hasn’t changed after the first game of the season despite the loss.
3) Since they were last in the Super Bowl, Denver has been a team with a great defense and a shaky offense. I was surprised to see that Denver had no sacks, one interception, and no fumble recoveries, and had trouble stopping the Raiders in the second half last Sunday. What’s going on with the pass rush and secondary?
That’s a great question. Damarri Mathis got picked on against the Raiders and unless he improves, that’s going to be replicated by every offense Denver faces. Or at least should. The second-year cornerback has to get better or the Broncos will have to find someone to step in his place.
As for the pass rush, I think it’s a combination of a lack of talent and depth and a poor scheme on Sunday. Jimmy G looked like Tom Brady, and Jimmy is not as good as Brady. The other aspect that stood out was the poor tackling. Tackling is about talent, it’s about desire and want to. The pass rush must get better, but in fairness, it can’t get much worse.
4) Given the strengths and weaknesses of the roster, what will Denver need to do to make the playoffs this season?
They must avoid any more significant injuries. The Broncos roster is already depleted and lacking depth. The other factor is not to get down when the inevitable hiccups happen. There will be struggles, but I believe in Payton and his system to get this franchise turned around. I’m skeptical of Joseph, but have faith that Payton can get this turned around. Even if it doesn’t happen this season, they should be able to compete and show out on the field.
5) What does Washington need to do to beat the Broncos in Denver on Sunday?
On defense, get consistent pressure from the interior of the defensive line. Washington needs to contain Wilson in the pocket and hit him. Even if the Commanders don’t sack him, harass and hit him every chance they get.
On offense, I’d go after Mathis until he proves he can cover somebody. I’d stay away from Pat Surtain and throw everything at Mathis. I also think Washington will be able to run the football.
Thanks again to Ian for taking time out of his day to answer our questions about the Broncos.
As of right now, Vegas has the Broncos as 3.5 point favorites over Washington. How would you bet?
This poll is closed
Broncos win by 4 or more points.
Broncos win by 3 or less points, or tie.
As of right now, Vegas has the over/under for this game at 38.5 points. Which would you bet?
This poll is closed
39 or more points are scored.
38 or fewer points are scored.