New Denver Broncos head coach Sean Payton’s tenure in the Mile High City is off to a rocky start. His team lost the first two games of the season by a combined three points against Las Vegas and Washington, respectively. The offense looks to be moving in the right direction under Payton, but now the defense seems to have dropped off a bit. It’s only two games, but this can’t be how coach Payton envisioned beginning his run in Denver.
In fairness, the Raiders only scored 17 points in Week 1, and the Broncos only allowed last year’s NFL leading rusher, Josh Jacobs, 48 yards on 19 carries. Week 2 is where the dip really happened against the Commanders. Denver let Sam Howell throw the ball all over the field, accumulating nearly 300 yards and beating them for two touchdown passes. Brian Robinson Jr. also had a big day, rushing for 87 yards and two scores.
That vaunted Broncos D completely fell apart at home against the Commanders. It’s still very early in the year, but the Broncos are doing exactly what they did last season. They’re coming up on the short end of close games. Of their first eight games in 2022, all but one had a point differential of seven or less, whether Denver won or lost the game. They were 3-5 in those first eight games.
Losing these kinds of games isn’t something coach Payton is used to, especially after having an 18-point lead. Russell Wilson has been better early on, but it’s hard to say if he’ll get back to the Pro Bowl level of his Seattle years. Although Wilson had three TD passes Sunday, his two turnovers have probably kept coach Payton up this week.
“There were a number of drives where we were late with personnel, getting out of the huddle we took a while. That has to change,” Payton said. “We had to burn timeouts in the first half, and I’m not used to doing that. We have to be better. I have to be better. Russ has to be sharper with getting the play out, and then we have to look at how much we have in. If we need to wristband it, we will.”
Some say Payton is playing the blame game; others might think he’s holding Wilson accountable for the offense. Either way, Drew Brees isn’t walking through that locker room door in Denver. If he does, it won’t be in a Broncos uniform. Payton and Wilson must figure this out quickly because the season is already slipping away.
The road to success doesn’t get any easier for Denver as they travel to Miami for Week 3. The Dolphins are firing on all cylinders, and that offense looks unstoppable. The way this Broncos defense looked late in the Commanders game, the Dolphins might drop 40 on the Broncos. An 0-3 start for Denver would mean they’ve already dropped nearly 20 percent of their games. Luckily for Payton, they get to take on the Bears in Week 4, but they’re also a desperate team. Looks like that could be a battle to see who’s already eliminated from playoff contention.
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