Broncos Game Grades: Offense falls flat again

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Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Throughout the entire 2017-18 season, BSN Denver will be giving you game grades from every Denver Broncos contest. Evaluating all of the starters and beyond to give you a better look at the team’s strengths and weaknesses on a game-to-game basis.

In a defeat that was a bit closer then the final score would suggest, with the Broncos only down 13-3 to start the final quarter, the Washington Redskins proved to be the more lucid team in a 27-11 victory.

As always we break it all down for you here.


Domata Peko: C

Peko looked slow, not getting off blocks or getting in the backfield the same way he was earlier in the season. His deceptive athleticism seemingly gone. When he did break through to create penetration, Peko was unable to close on plays.

He picked things up in the second half, especially the fourth quarter, coming up with a handful of run stuffs as Washington tried to run out the clock.

Appearing in 53 percent of the defensive snaps, it just wasn’t enough from the big nose tackle to affect the final result.

Shelby Harris: D

Appearing in 57 percent of snaps, Harris lacked his patented flashy plays in this one, with only one measly tackle. The pressure wasn’t there from him up the middle, a disappointing outing.

Adam Gotsis: D

Gotsis appeared in 77 percent of snaps in this game, 51 total, in fact, by far the most he’s had all year. His impact, though, was basically non-existent.

He had a nice pressure in the fourth quarter, tried to tip a few passes at the line, and wasn’t overmanned in the run game.

Still, finishing the game with zero tackles is pretty baffling for how many plays he appeared in. His level of play's been on a steep decline since the first month; this might’ve been his worst outing yet.

Von Miller: A+

Von had a spectacular performance and was basically impossible to contain all game long. With a couple spin moves, he forced Kirk Cousins out the pocket and came up with two crucial third down stops early on. Right tackle Morgan Moses simply couldn’t hang with the Broncos' star who was a menace all game long.

Miller was millimeters away from forcing a fumble at the end of the half, as he screamed off the edge to get his mitts on Cousins’ pass.

In the second half, as the Redskins added to their lead, his impact was slightly lessened, but he could still be seen creating constant pressure from all sides. He had a hit on Cousins out on the perimeter that forced yet another incompletion and then closed out the game by getting a spectacular forced fumble on running back Samaje Perine with less than five minutes remaining.

Appearing in all but four snaps the entire game, Miller’s motor and relentless play should be lauded. He had a fantastic outing and was a constant presence. An example to follow for everyone wearing Orange and Blue.

Todd Davis: C

Davis was a factor against the run both good and bad, making some plays and missing a few as well.

He did shoot through the line to create a tackle for a loss against the run in the third quarter and took down Perine with a great close on the rook holding him to a two-yard gain. In coverage, he was also tested with a target to Vernon Davis into the end zone on an overthrown pass and was in decent position.

On the negative side, he allowed Perine to beat him to the corner, gaining the first down to start the second half. Early on, he was blown off his spot by a blocker on another run.

A so-so game from the tough veteran.

Brandon Marshall: B-

Marshall was tested early and often. Though he played well to start things off, especially in coverage underneath where he was reliable and came up with some efficient tackles in space, as the game wore on, he was picked on. Once that happened, he missed a few plays having a mixed outing.

He lost Kapri Bibbs in the third quarter while in coverage allowing a first down gain on 2nd-and-6. He then lost another target covering underneath. As the Broncos tried to stop Cousins by manning up early on, Marshal was one of the quarterbacks main victims. Late in the game, after breaking through the line, he was unable to make a tackle in the backfield allowing a much bigger gain from Perine.

No. 54 picked it up, made a nice play covering tight end Niles Paul down the sideline on a pick route, staying with him stride for stride. He also had a nice tackle against the run on Bibbs and added a couple more stops on the ground.

He was asked to do a lot and mostly did a good job, but the plays he missed were crucial in Washington building momentum offensively.

Shaquil Barrett: B

Barrett started things off with a bang, getting a tackle for a loss on the game’s opening play. After that, he slowed down a bit though he did have two quarterback hits and made a great tackle on Cousins during a third-down scramble holding him short of sticks (though the Skins were still awarded the first down).

He did have a missed tackle out in the flats, allowing some extra yardage, his one poor play. He did create a good amount of pressure even if he wasn’t at Miller’s level. A solid outing.

Darian Stewart: C+

Stewart burst through on first down to get an almost safety on the Skins second offensive drive, a play that could’ve completely changed the game. He had a few nice tackles as the last line defense as well.

Ultimately, the play that’ll stick out most is how Stewart allowed tight end, Vernon Davis, to get by him for Washington’s final touchdown which was a true backbreaker. The safety was caught with his eyes in the backfield as Davis just zipped by him gaining enough space to get the score.

Overall, Stewart was good, but there have been too many plays this year like the Davis touchdown that have cost him and the team.

Will Parks: B

Parks played well in his second start, coming up with a couple really big plays. He made a phenomenal tackle for a loss, shooting through to close down on the run midway through the game. Then, he came up with a timely interception in the end zone, covering the middle of the field and reading Cousins the entire way, making a really nice play and grab.

Parks lost receiver Josh Doctson over the middle in zone coverage and couldn’t make a play allowing a first down conversion on 2nd-and-12.

A good outing overall with a couple big plays, an important sign for the future.

Chris Harris Jr.: B-

Harris played fine coverage most of the game, locking guys down on the sideline and allowing only a couple short gains.

The play that stands out for Harris is his miscommunication with Aqib Talib, leading to Doctson’s big wide open touchdown that broke the game open as Washington jumped to a 20-3 lead. Two veterans who have played together for several years need to be better than that.

Aqib Talib: A

Talib, too, is somewhat guilty on Doctson’s wide open score, but he played an impeccable game otherwise.

He opened things up with a great pass deflection, closing down on a comeback route on the game’s opening third down to force a punt. He was then right there on 3rd-and-11 on the second drive playing perfect coverage down the sideline to get another stop.

He did allow a nice contested deep grab by Ryan Grant for a first down, but that was it. He also contributed five tackles, coming up and helping against the run.

A really nice outing, all things considered.

Other noteworthy defensive performances: 

Bradley Roby became the secondaries sacrificial lamb early on, as Cousins picked on him exclusively while Denver tried to play man coverage. Especially when covering in the slot, he struggled and allowed Jamison Crowder’s opening score as he set him up with an inside move that made him look foolish. He lost his man on another big gainer on 3rd-and-6.

Roby did make a few positive plays but none at the level of what he allowed. A really disappointing outing as he’s coming off several nice games in a row.


Garett Bolles: D-

Just an awful outing from the rook who was taken to school by Ryan Kerrigan. That was especially true as Kerrigan abused him for a sack knocking Bolles on his rump in the process.

He allowed six more pressures by our count, including another sack this time by Preston Smith late in the game.

Bolles also allowed the pocket to break down towards his side on the Brock Osweiler fumble in the first half. As if that wasn’t enough, Bolles was called for a blatant hold while run blocking. He also got beat for a tackle for a loss on a draw play, as Smith again beat him off the edge.

Bolles had a few nice run blocking plays, particularly early on and tried to mix it up after the whistle to set the tone. Ultimately though, his inability to pass protect with any consistency made life impossible for the passing game to do anything with success.

Max Garcia: C

Garcia’s game wasn’t horrible, but he also was far from a bright spot. He did get out in space on a few pull blocks, looking slow but getting the job done, allowing C.J. Anderson to find space on a few of his early counter runs.

He was also beat to his spot a few times, getting blown up at the end of the second quarter for a run stop on Anderson. He also allowed a pass deflection from the lineman he was blocking in the second half.

His impact as a run blocker wasn’t bad, and he was fairly consistent in protection compared to his teammates.

Matt Paradis: C+

Paradis didn’t play poorly, was solid help in pass protection for Garcia especially, and while the run game was having some success early on, he created push.

He did allow a pressure towards the end of the third quarter forcing Brock out the pocket as he had to scramble. As the game wore on, his play faltered a bit too.

Connor McGovern: C-

McGovern picked up right where he left off early on, opening up some big holes for the running game. His strength at the point of attack is easy to see as he's a gritty player who’s fun to watch go to work pounding out every play.

As the game wore on and Denver was forced to throw it more, he struggled—allowing pressure up the middle on a few occasions. He was also beat on a run blitz, forcing a tackle for a loss from linebacker Martell Spaight.

McGovern was also flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct in the fourth quarter on a questionable call.

All in all, not his best outing after the hot start.

Donald Stephenson: F

Stephenson was just as bad as Bolles, if not worse. He managed to allow seven pressures, including the Osweiler fumble that came from Smith attacking his side. He allowed another pressure from Kerrigan, who bull-rushed him to pressure the quarterback on the one interception as well.

Kerrigan, who gave him fits all game, later beat him for a sack as well, and a quarterback hit on Osweiler as he was run down from the backside after being forced to scramble.

The pressure coming from No. 71’s side was constant and made things for the passing game virtually impossible. A truly poor outing.

C.J. Anderson: B+ 

Anderson ran tough as always, but he also showed great lateral mobility and vision, really picking out those cut-back lanes.

He had success early on and was breaking off moderate gains with consistency. C.J. showed good burst off the line and was successful in the receiving game as well.

His only fault was not creating a truly big play. Otherwise, he played impeccably showing great heart.

Demaryius Thomas: C

DT did a nice job getting open early on setting the defensive back up inside to then go across his face and beat him outside. He managed a few more short gains as his impact was limited due to the passing attack seemingly being stuck in the sand all game long.

Thomas did drop a pass on a contest comeback route on 2nd-and-10 in the fourth quarter.

In the end, he just wasn’t able to have much of an impact

Bennie Fowler: N/A

Listed as the starter and appearing in 78 percent of the offensive snaps, you wouldn’t have been able to tell Fowler was even active.

He had one target as Brock missed him badly on a potential big play at the end of the half.

After that, he wasn’t seen much.

Virgil Green: D

Green didn’t receive any targets in the receiving game and appeared in only 26 snaps. His impact as a blocker wasn’t felt much either. Just a blah game.

Brock Osweiler: D

This was an ugly outing for Brock who didn’t get much help from his supporting cast. The veteran signal caller struggled with pressure the entire game and was unable to get his footing under him. Because of that, his accuracy was simply poor and erratic.

He threw an awful pick over the middle in the two-minute drill with the offense seemingly picking up some momentum.

Brock then underthrew Fowler with the opportunity to get a big play in the final drive of the half, and again had Fowler on 4th-and-2 but just missed him leading him too far with his pass.

Osweiler made a couple decent throws and a few plays on scrambles with his feet, but his outing was pretty miserable.

Other noteworthy offensive performances:  

Devontae Booker looked explosive early on, was breaking several tackles and making plays getting out in space. He had a great zig-zagging run on a screen pass in the two-minute drill to get extra yardage. However, Booker fumbled the ball on a tough grab underneath.

Andy Janovich was superb blocking early on for the run game opening up some huge holes. He also had a first-down reception and generally played better than any of the tight ends.

Isaiah McKenzie made a huge mistake to end the half running inside instead of going out of bounds, costing the team three points as the rookie's rough debut season continued.

Special Teams: B

Again, special teams had a quiet game, and that’s a good thing. Punt coverage was okay, and Denver made their one field goal attempt.

Sure, they didn’t cover the final on-side kick, but given the massive issues, the units’ had all season that’s a small blimp.

Coaching: C-

The defensive staff struggled to adjust to Cousins, who first picked man coverage apart and then found a few fatal flaws in the zone coverage which opened up the floodgates.

Offensively, Bill Musgrave’s unit didn’t play great, especially with a deficit, as the run game went by the wayside and the issues in pass protection were too severe to get past.

On a positive note, the Broncos actually won the penalty battle, on the road none the less. A minor consolation as the staff's seemingly been out coached once again in yet another convincing defeat.

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