Eleven things on the Broncos following their Thursday night loss to the Indianapolis Colts:
1. How much of a difference does a healthy Bradley Chubb make for Denver? The fifth-year outside linebacker has 5 1/2 sacks through five games. In the NFL, only San Francisco’s Nick Bosa (six) has more. That number is slightly tilted considering Chubb’s got five games under his belt and everybody else is playing No. 5 this weekend, but consider this: Chubb only had 8 1/2 sacks the past three years combined due to injuries and a downturn in production after his fantastic rookie season in 2018. He’s on pace for 19 sacks in a contract year. Hello.
2. The NFL’s international series resumes Sunday when the Packers play the Giants in London at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. The Packers didn’t travel until Thursday, which is at least notable because Broncos coach Nathaniel Hackett spent three seasons there but has Denver on a different course in a couple of weeks. The Broncos are flying Monday night later this month and spending the week acclimating and practicing before their Oct. 30 game at Wembley Stadium against the Jaguars. Hackett has plenty of experience with the series having coached in Jacksonville, which has played in London nine times.
3. The Broncos, at least, have a home game before traveling transatlantic. New Orleans played on the road at Charlotte, then flew directly from there across to London ahead of its game last week against the Vikings. That’s a long trip.
4. A stat to look up at some point: New Broncos running back Latavius Murray scored a touchdown for the Saints against the Vikings in London last week. He could well be in the Broncos’ game plan later this month, too. Wonder if there’s ever been a player who’s scored a touchdown for two different teams overseas in the same season.
5. Speaking of scoring, the Broncos aren’t doing nearly enough of it through five games. They’ve got six touchdowns so far and are averaging 15 points per game. Here’s a number that’s either concerning, indicative of how solid the Broncos’ defense has been or, more likely, both: Three of Denver’s five opponents rank No. 25 or worse in scoring. Houston is No. 25, San Francisco No. 27 and Indianapolis No. 32. Seattle and Las Vegas check in at Nos. 10 and 11., respectively, heading into this weekend.
6. Hackett said Friday that he’s still planning on giving his staff a bit of a light workload this weekend despite the 2-3 start to the season. “For us, we have to take a breath a little bit to get re-energized. We have a long week next week with the Monday night game. But the fact of it is we’re going to work and we’re going to do what we have to do to be able to put the guys in the right position and find the right things to get these guys going.”
7. It has been a weird start to the season schedule-wise for the Broncos, though that’s not an excuse for having the worst red zone offense in the game or scoring two touchdowns in three home games. Denver’s played Monday night, Sunday afternoon, Sunday night, Sunday afternoon, Thursday night and now gets ready for Monday night, Sunday and a trip to London. The back half of the schedule is a bit more conventional.
8. With the Monday night game next on the docket for the Broncos, keep an eye on the Chargers this weekend. In the NFL, injuries are part of the game. Denver’s been slammed by them so far — in the past week alone, it’s lost Javonte Williams, Garett Bolles and Ronald Darby for the season and Randy Gregory for at least the next (now) three games. But they are likely to get safety Justin Simmons back this week. The Chargers have felt similarly impactful pain, losing left tackle Rashawn Slater for the year and defensive end Joey Bosa for several weeks. That is a whole lot of premium talent on the shelf, unfortunately.
9. Brandon McManus’ field goal in the third quarter against Indianapolis gave the Broncos a 9-6 lead, but it was notable for another reason, too: Those were Denver’s first offensive points scored in the third quarter this season.
10. Before that, only Jimmy Garoppolo’s out-of-the-end-zone safety put points on the board for Denver in the third. That has to change, particularly since that frame is largely about adjustments coming out of the locker room.
11. One more weird stat about Thursday night from the Elias Sports Bureau, via ESPN Stats and Information, and then we’re on to L.A.: It was the first game in NFL history to feature two quarterbacks throwing for 250 yards apiece that didn’t include a touchdown. Lower the mark to 200 apiece and there have been seven instances, the past two featuring Wilson. Enjoy your Sunday, everyone. May the touchdowns be plentiful.