5 things to watch for as Broncos open season vs. Seahawks – Broncos Wire

As the Monday night matchup between the Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks looms large, Broncos Wire takes a look at five critical things to watch for during the game.
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The biggest story going into this week has been quarterback Russell Wilson’s return to Seattle. Fresh off signing a new $296 million contract with Denver, Wilson’s ability as a deep-ball thrower opens up a component of the passing game the Broncos have lacked in seasons’ past. Despite lingering questions from critics about his mobility and durability, Denver believes that it has built a playoff-caliber roster around a franchise quarterback for the first time since Peyton Manning hung up his cleats at the end of the 2015 season.
This first game at Lumen Field will likely be an emotional reunion for Wilson. Since Broncos fans have not seen Wilson during the preseason, this is their first look at what Denver has in the 33 year-old signal-caller.
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After wide receiver Tim Patrick’s season-ending ACL injury, there have been significant question marks as to who will take his place as Denver’s legitimate No. 1 target for quarterback Russell Wilson.
Jerry Jeudy may be an easy, immediate answer for some fans. A route-running machine, Jeudy is quick to create separation from corners all over the NFL. However, the biggest issue with Jeudy has been drops. Since he was drafted in 2020, Jeudy has 11 drops, some in critical situations. If he can fix that part of his game, then he can become a crucial component of the offense this year.
One of the most surprising stories to come out of the preseason was wide receiver Jalen Virgil. Virgil made big catch after big catch for backup quarterbacks Brett Rypien and Josh Johnson in August. The undrafted Virgil has the ability to make difficult catches, as evidenced in his performance during the Broncos’ first preseason game against the Dallas Cowboys. With Courtland Sutton likely getting the attention of each team’s No. 1 cover man, Virgil has potential to draw favorable matchups across the 2022 slate.
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One of the biggest priorities for Denver general manager George Paton during the offseason was fixing the special teams unit. Paton addressed the position of kick returner during the 2022 NFL draft in speedster Montrell Washington. Multiple times during the 2022 preseason, Washington showed explosive speed and the ability to change the field.
Special teams coordinator Dwayne Stukes is coming off a season where he helped the Super Bowl champion Los Angeles Rams with a highly-ranked punt return (11.3 yards) and punt return against (6.7 yards) averages. The Broncos’ ability to win close games could come down to how special teams can flip the field, either through the return game, or on special teams coverage. Head coach Nathaniel Hackett knows all too well that a bad game by the special teams could lead to an early January playoff exit.
(AP Photo/Jack Dempsey)
Denver’s third head coach in five seasons comes into 2022 with sky-high expectations. At his disposal is a defense that added several key pieces during the offseason in outside linabacker Randy Gregory and cornerback K’Wuan Williams, and an offense led by an All-Pro quarterback and a football-crazed region hungering for relevancy after winning a Super Bowl win seven years ago.
While all signs indicate that Hackett could finally be “the guy” as head coach, Hackett needs to show that the new offensive scheme he brought from the Green Bay Packers can be devastating to defenses across the league. Every game will be a test of clock management, smart challenges and halftime adjustments. His first test of how he handles these expectations comes against Seahawks coach Pete Carroll on the Monday night stage.
(AP Photo/Jack Dempsey)
The Denver Broncos scoring woes have been well-documented. In 2021, the Broncos only averaged 19.7 points per game, according to Pro Football Reference, ranking in the bottom half of the NFL. Too often, Denver settled for field goals instead of touchdowns in the red zone. In order for the Broncos to even have thoughts of returning to the playoffs, they need to score seven when they get to the red zone.
If they are able to convert touchdowns in the red zone instead of settling for field goals, the offense will take a huge step forward in 2022.
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