Not only did the team as a whole look night and day in comparison to the Fangio era, some key players showed that they are ready to do their part in taking this team to the next level.
It wasn’t the result we all had hoped for, but the Denver Broncos have officially played their first game with Nathaniel Hackett, his coaching staff, and … Russell Wilson.
While there are obvious issues that need improvement (tackling, penalty discipline on both sides, redzone playcalling/personnel usage, and most importantly… the decision to take the franchise quarterback off the field in favor of a personal record, game-winning kick for Brandon McManus) there were a ton of positives to build off of. I know the end result and final minutes may have left fans feeling like this is the same team of the last 7 years. But I promise, not only did the team as a whole look night and day in comparison to the Fangio era, some players (new and old) showed that they are ready to do their part in taking this team to the next level.
So put down the pitchforks for a moment if you will, and let’s get into what I saw on the week one tape out of Randy Gregory, Bradley Chubb, Javonte Williams, and Andrew Beck.
You voted, here it is!
Randy Gregory clips from week 1 vs. Seattle. pic.twitter.com/f97V4YYVco
One of the biggest surprises of the Broncos offseason was the decision by George Paton to not pursue Von Miller.
In the Thursday night debut game for Buffalo, Von looked like a top-5 pass rusher (not shocking) and quickly fans began to question the decision to pass up the chance at a reunion. The pressure was on Gregory to look as advertised in a game where he would be playing on a snap count.
Gregory played 26 total snaps of a possible 55 and I’m here to report Broncos Country… he did not disappoint.
Randy set the tone early on against rookie OT Charles Cross showing off incredible speed to power forcing Cross into the lap of Geno Smith. Every rep he shows you something different as he’s one of few rushers in the league who can win in every way. He’s MASSIVE on the tape overpowering players with his length and getting his arms in passing lanes (he nearly had 3 deflections in this game). His explosiveness off the snap combined with his freak agility and bend had both tackles off balance anytime he was across from them. He even brings a wide array of moves in his arsenal and never quits on a rush if the first move fails.
He even managed to force a key fumble from DK Metcalf with a superb rip on the ball.
Of all edge rushers in week one Randy Gregory had the fourth highest pass rush win percentage at 30.8%.
If he can continue to produce at that clip while increasing his snaps as he gets healthier and better conditioned, we could see one hell of a season out of number five.
Andrew Beck clips vs. Seattle!
Beck was a menace as a blocker and surprisingly effective/utilized in the pass game. pic.twitter.com/qV7VTsHG1E
Who is this and what did you do with Andrew Beck?
All offseason I was honestly a little confused by the coaching staff’s love for Andrew Beck as their utility FB/TE hybrid, then on MNF Andrew Beck revealed that he is secretly Rob Gronkowski in disguise.
Second play of the game we see him roll into the flat on a boot action, catch a pass from Russ and turn up field. He gained over 20 yards before lowering the shoulder on a helpless DB and then ran out of bounds.
The next play we see him nullify two oncoming defenders in the run game, sealing a crease for Javonte Williams to sneak behind for an extra couple yards.
THE VERY NEXT PLAY.
Beck lined up offset on Fleming, play-action tight end wheel route that opens up beautifully. Russell throws a slightly over thrown ball with a ton of touch and allows Beck to do the rest. With one hand he tears the pass out of the air for a 27 yard pick up and another big play on the Broncos opening drive.
We saw him blowing up DBs on runs and he was a massive factor in Melvin and Javonte finding so much success.
He even should’ve had a touchdown on a goal line shovel pass if it weren’t for a poorly timed false start from Courtland Sutton.
This was an Andrew Beck I’ve never seen before and if he can continue to bring this impact in both the run and pass game, I’m sure glad Denver kept him around. With only 10 snaps in this game we could see increased usage from Beck going forward.
Bradley Chubb clips vs. Seattle pic.twitter.com/T90yf5jXCJ
It took Bradley Chubb about a quarter and a half to get going but once he did… oh my lord.
Some of the slow start was related to how much he was asked to drop in coverage in the first half, but when the game was close and Denver needed big plays on defense and most importantly, stops. Bradley Chubb was there.
First Seattle play of the 3rd, Bradley Chubb destroys Noah Fant attempting to come across the formation for a block, Chubb makes the tackle for no gain.
Couple plays later we see him attack Cross’ outside shoulder with a bull rush into rip just narrowly missing out on the sack.
Then the very next play sees him win on the inside shoulder of Cross, applying the pressure before delivering a humongous late hit on Geno Smith which has sadly become somewhat of a ‘Bradley Chubb Special’.
After the horrid back-to-back end zone Denver fumbles, with all hope of victory starting to slip away, Bradley Chubb delivered a strip sack where he beat Cross to the edge and utilized his bend to force Seattle into a 3rd and 16 that they couldn’t convert.
Then with 6 minutes left in the game, with Denver down 1. Bradley Chubb came through once more.
3rd and 6 Chubb seemingly effortlessly wins around the corner against Cross again jumping on the back of Smith for a loss of 10.
Denver needs Chubb to be the guy they can rely on in big moments this season. In a contract year where he finally gets the chance to be healthy, he’s started off on an incredible foot.
You might remember me praising Randy Gregory for having the fourth highest pass rush win rate in the league from week 1, well only a short 2 spots behind him was Bradley Chubb with a 29.4% win rate.
Javonte Williams clips vs. Seattle pic.twitter.com/fzjX5K1Kr1
This should come as no surprise, Javonte Williams ran very hard on Monday.
Thanks in large part to the blocking up front, on only 7 carries Williams managed 43 rushing yards on a 6.1 ypc. He showed off the same burst and power we’ve come to expect and punished every Seattle defender he came into contact with.
What really stood out from Williams’ performance was his usage and capability in the pass game.
Javonte ended with a game-leading 12 targets and 11 catches. Most of these came on dump offs and a few screens where he showed consistent hands and a knack for picking up first downs.
While I believe some of Williams’ vision issues have been somewhat overblown, we did see a few moments where he needs to prioritize gaining extra yards over creating contact. Especially in the screen game where he needs to learn to better follow his blockers and let them absorb some of the oncoming traffic. Still, it’s hard to argue with the results he produces.
Javonte did receive more snaps than Melvin Gordon, but he didn’t receive more rushes and fans will argue he should’ve seen the ball at least once from the one yard line on the first goal line possession before Melvin’s fumble.
Sadly the monkey paw curled and when he did get his chance to take a carry from the one yard line, he also fumbled the points away.
It would appear that Javonte Williams is Hackett’s “Aaron Jones” and we should expect to see him heavily utilized in every part of the offense. He’s a powerful runner with adequate burst to hit running lanes in the outside zone heavy scheme, and his chops in the pass game make him one of the more reliable short and medium down converters on the team.
It’s looking like a monster year for Javonte, and hopefully he’ll spend the week putting extra emphasis on ball security.
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