The Denver Broncos did not get off to an ideal start in the first game of the Sean Payton era. Denver has another chance to get into the win column for the first time this season in a crucial home game against the Washington Commanders.
Heavy on Broncos will break down what to expect from Jerry Jeudy in his 2023 debut and other questions that need to be answered in Week 2.
How Much Will Jerry Jeudy Boost the Offense in Week 2?
It was evident in the season opener how much quarterback Russell Wilson needed a vertical threat in the passing game.
Against the Las Vegas Raiders in Week 1, Wilson had an efficient outing but only had 177 passing yards on 34 attempts, averaging 4.6 yards per pass attempt. The longest play through the air went for 21 yards to WR Brandon Johnson.
Denver needs Jeudy to build on his career year for Wilson and the offense to get more explosive in the passing game.
During the 2022 season, Jeudy set career highs in receptions (67), yards (972) and touchdowns (6) according to Pro Football Reference. The highlight of his stellar campaign was a three-touchdown performance in Week 14 against the Kansas City Chiefs.
OC Joe Lombardi understands the importance of having the Alabama product return to the field.
“He’s a great route-runner,” Lombardi said on September 14. “You feel really good when he’s matched up man-to-man, so when you recognize that, [he’s] someone you look to early as a quarterback. [He’s] a guy that consistently can get separation. The more receivers that you have that can win those one-on-one matchups, the easier it is. It’ll definitely be good to have him back.”
With TE Greg Dulcich expected to miss multiple weeks, having Jeudy in the lineup is more important than ever heading into the Commanders game.
Will Denver’s Defense Capitalize Against a Young Opposing QB?
The Broncos did not register a single sack against the Raiders. Washington is a prime candidate to reverse their fortunes.
In addition, Washington’s offense turned the ball over three times, including Howell twice. The matchup with Denver will be Howell’s third career start in the NFL.
Toying with the inexperience of the former North Carolina Tarheel will be the key to a Denver victory. That could prove challenging as the Broncos will miss veteran pass rusher Frank Clark for multiple weeks.
Regardless of the injuries to the Broncos’ pass rushers, there is no excuse for them not to sack Howell behind Washington’s weak O-line.
Can the Broncos Avoid the Dreaded 0-2 Start?
History hasn’t been kind to NFL teams who have started a season 0-2.
Since the 1990 campaign, only 31 of the 270 clubs that began a season 0-2 have advanced to the playoffs, according to Rob Maaddi of the Associated Press.
Expected AFC heavyweights like the Chiefs, Buffalo Bills and Cincinnati Bengals all lost their season openers. Same for 2022 playoff teams like the New York Giants, Seattle Seahawks and Los Angeles Chargers.
If the Broncos drop their second-straight home game to begin the 2023 campaign, an 0-2 deficit in the standings could be too much to overcome. An 0-3 start would be even tougher to overcome based on the strength of their opponent the following week.
Looking ahead to Week 3, the Broncos will hit the road for the first time all season against the Miami Dolphins. Based on their high-flying aerial attack, Miami will be a tough matchup for Denver’s defense.
Dolphins QB Tua Tagovailoa threw for 466 yards against the Chargers in Week 1, the fourth-most passing yards in a season-opening game in NFL history. All-Pro wideout Tyreek Hill had 215 yards alone and scored twice in the win.