What would 2021 team look like with competent special teams? May we present you with the 2022 Broncos


The Broncos under Nathaniel Hackett may not be bad. But they are boring — again.

Three weeks into a new era of Mile High football, that’s surely the most striking similarity between the old (Vic Fangio) and new (Hackett). But there are most definitely others.

Broncos offense — D+

Let’s see…

Good-to-great defense? Check.

Maddeningly inconsistent, snore-inducing offense? Double check.

Questionable game management? “Questionable” might be putting it kindly.

Yeah, it’s safe to say the Broncos may have changed their coach (Vic to Hackett), quarterback (Teddy to Russ) and ownership group (Bowlens to Waltons), but they haven’t changed their stripes — yet.

They’re winning ugly, which, ultimately, is fine when the opposing quarterbacks are Jimmy Garoppolo, Davis Mills and Geno Smith. Not so much when they are Derek Carr, Justin Herbert and Patrick Mahomes.

As far as the staff inside the Grading the Week offices can tell, there are two distinct differences from last year to this year thus far:

1. The special teams are no longer a weekly disaster. In fact, if you ever wondered what the 2021 Broncos might look like with across-the-board special teams competence (and certainly, a few did), the 2022 Broncos may very well be the answer.

2. The team has a quarterback in Russell Wilson capable of pulling late-game Tim Tebow-style wizardry … after nearly putting us to sleep for the first three quarters (also very Tebow-esque).

Like their college counterparts in Boulder, the Denver offense has scored three touchdowns total — three! — through its first three weeks. And Broncos Country had to wait until the fourth quarter each of the past two Sundays to see the last two.

Even in the state of Iowa, that level of offensive ineptitude would trigger alarm bells.

How bad were things during the first three quarters of last week’s 11-10 puntfest against the 49ers? Fans inside Empower Field were booing the play calls after second down. They couldn’t even wait for the three-and-out to become reality before they let Hackett hear it.

The good news: For all of the awful offense, the Broncos are 2-1 and tied for first place in the AFC West with the prospect of improved offensive execution a real possibility. (Hey, there’s nowhere to go but up!)

The bad news: The Broncos are running out of bad quarterbacks to bully. And you can only lean on a good defense so long before things go sideways.

Just ask last year’s Broncos. They started off 3-0.

Michael Porter Jr. — C

A message for the Nuggets’ enigmatic wing: Less is more.

Especially when more than half of your first four years in the NBA have been spent resting or rehabilitating your balky back.

MPJ seemed to disagree earlier this week at the team’s media day, when it was suggested the Nuggets might consider taking a more cautious approach managing his minutes this season.


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