Bleacher Report writer Brad Gagnon has already given up on the Broncos. Gagnon wants Denver to look ahead to the October 31 NFL trade deadline if they lose to the Dolphins.
“The Denver Broncos aren’t quite toast after two close losses to start the season,” said Gagnon in his September 22 column. “If they lose Sunday, that might already put an end to their playoff hopes. The AFC is too deep, and the AFC West is too strong in general.”
Through the first two games of the 2023 season, Denver is sitting at 0-2 and tied with the Los Angeles Chargers for last place in the division.
Since the 1970 season, 400 teams have started 0-2 according to Evan Bleier of Inside Hook. Only 39 of those teams notched a postseason trip.
Gagnon notes the loss of draft capital to acquire the services of Payton and quarterback Russell Wilson has put the Broncos in a tough spot. Selling off some expensive pieces will only help the roster in the 2024 campaign.
“The top candidate in that regard might be wide receiver Jerry Jeudy. The 2020 first-round pick still hasn’t taken off, and he’s already at risk of being overshadowed by rookie Marvin Mims Jr. at that position.”
Jeudy made his season debut in Week 2 against the Washington Commanders. The Alabama product caught three passes for 25 yards in the loss.
Former 2-Time Pro Bowl Wide Reciever Sends Message to Jeudy
Amid uneven offensive showings to start the season, one former wideout sent a message to Jeudy ahead of Denver’s Week 3 matchup with Miami.
On the September 22 episode of “The Carton Show,” two-time Pro Bowler wide receiver Greg Jennings called on Jeudy to carry the Broncos on his back.
“Jerry Jeudy, I need you baby! We need you! Look, if there’s one thing that can bring this offense out of its funk, forget the defense, forget your quarterback. You gotta show up and make plays.”
Jeudy made his first regular season appearance on September 17 after injuring his hamstring late in the preseason. The fourth-year pass catcher was targeted five times against Washington and played 68% of the offensive snaps.
Jennings implored Jeudy to step up and “be the player [the Broncos] once drafted you to be.”
“Russell Wilson has struggled in the second half. What you and Courtland Sutton have to do is say, ‘Look, give me the ball’. I don’t care what decision is made in the huddle as far as play call. Raise your hand and say, ‘Come to me, I will make a play,’ because that is who they need you to be.”
OC Joe Lombardi Preaches Offensive Consistency
The Broncos reached the 30-point threshold just once in 17 games during the 2022 season. It only took Denver two games to achieve the mark in 2023.
Despite improved offensive production under Payton, it has been a tale of two halves for the Broncos. Lombardi acknowledged as much when he spoke to reporters on September 21.
“I think we started fast, and the turnover, we had really good field position after the punt return. That turnover hurt and then just flopped around for a few drives before we started moving the ball again in the second half.”
Denver held a 21-3 advantage early in the first half before Washington capitalized on the Broncos’ inconsistencies to close the game.
Lombardi said the Broncos “need to be more consistent throughout the game.”
Denver’s OC was then asked about Wilson’s struggles in the second half. Lombardi doesn’t see it as a problem now but will address the issues should they continue late into the season.
“Let’s talk about that after five or six weeks if it continues. I point to anything why that happened. It’s just a little random chance. Certainly, something we have to fix and you want to play good every quarter, you want to play good every play.”