During Jerry Rosburg’s first press conference as head coach of the Denver Broncos on December 28, 2022, he talked about admiring the people and fans in Colorado for having the same passion for winning as he does.
“They [fans] love this game like I love this game; this is in my heart, it’s in my soul,” Rosburg said. “The fans here, man, they want to win, and I want to win.”
After losing a competitive Week 17 rematch with the Kansas City Chiefs, 27-24, Rosburg accomplished what he set out to do as head coach, and that’s getting a win with the Broncos. For the final game of the regular season, Denver defeated the Los Angeles Chargers 31-28, playing the best version of themselves and scoring the most points they had all season.
Quarterback Russell Wilson completed 13 of 24 passes for 283 yards, 3 touchdowns, 1 interception and a passer rating of 118.6. When the offense clicked, Wilson tried to get everyone involved, targeting eight different players in the passing game.
Wilson’s No. 1 receiver, Jerry Jeudy, had a career game, finishing with 5 catches for 154 yards and averaging 30.8 yards per catch. Jeudy’s name was tossed around during the trade deadline as a player teams were looking to acquire, but the connection between Wilson and Jeudy looks like it will be something to look forward to next season and beyond.
“I’ve seen the same Russ that didn’t give up even though we didn’t have the season that we wanted to,” Jeudy said in his Week 18 post-game press conference. “He [Wilson] just stayed the same throughout the course of the year, and he just never gave up…we just finished the season off strong how we wanted to.”
Positives From Week 18 to Carry Into 2023
When defensive coordinator Ejiro Evero declined to take over as head coach, he wanted to focus on improving the defense and finishing the season strong. While they still allowed 27 points to the Chiefs and 28 points to the Chargers, the defense forced two turnovers in back-to-back weeks, which will hopefully carry over into the 2023 season.
“I said the theme for us was just find ways to close out games,” safety Justin Simmons said in his post-game interview. “I know things got a little sloppy today, but you know, ultimately found a way to close it out, get a win…the season wasn’t what we all wanted, but ended on a positive for all of us there.”
Other players that developed this season on defense were linebackers Alex Singleton and Baron Browning. Singleton collected 11 tackles on Sunday, which added to his career-best of 163 tackles on the season. He signed with the Broncos to a one-year deal, but Denver might want to bring him back and pair him with another young linebacker next year. In his second year, Browning had a career-high five sacks in 2022 and proved to be a versatile defender in Evero’s scheme. With another offseason to develop, he will be a player to watch for 2023.
The Broncos were shuffling around running backs this season after Javonte Williams went down with a season-ending injury but found stability in Latavius Murray. The veteran back was acquired from the New Orleans Saints practice squad and took over as the leading rusher when the Broncos moved on from Melvin Gordan.
Murray had his best season since his first year with Minnesota in 2017, rushing for 703 yards with the Broncos, scoring 5 rushing touchdowns, and adding an extra 124 receiving yards. In his Week 18 post-game interview, Murray spoke about his season in Denver and was grateful that the Broncos took a chance on him.
“The opportunity has been everything. I can’t put it into words. There was a lot of doubt, a lot of uncertainty, I just was hoping I would get an opportunity,” Murray said. “I knew that if it’s an injury or whatever the case may be, I may get an opportunity. I just didn’t know when and where that was gonna be.”
Having a veteran running back is a great commodity to have for any team. Being someone who has a lot of NFL success, it would be wise to re-sign someone like Murray, who is a free agent, and pair him with Williams as he’s recovering from injury. Retaining Murray adds another player with experience as the team retools the offense with a new head coach.
Social Media Reaction to Broncos’ Week 18 Victory
Twitter has been filled with negativity around the Broncos this season. However, getting a win against a playoff team and division rival will change the tune quickly. Here are some highlights from Twitter during and after Week 18.