Throughout the entire 2017-18 season, BSN Denver will be giving you game grades from every Denver Broncos contest. Evaluating all of the starters and beyond to give you a better look at the team’s strengths and weaknesses on a game-to-game basis.
After an inexplicable 23-10 loss to the now 1-5 New York Giants, we had to take our time and go back to re-watch the tape to see what and who went wrong in this one.
Domata Peko: C+
Aside from one big Orleans Darkwa run right up his gap, as Peko was unable to disengage from a one-on-one block, Domata’s first half was solid. He did a great job running down plays even outside, a skill he’s impressed with, even closing down on a screen play. He generally stuffed the run and ate up gaps even getting an explosive pressure, bullying the Giants o-line in the process.
In the second half, he was worn down and blown up by backup center Brett Jones for Darkwa’s big run getting the Giants out of treacherous territory when backed up at their own one-yard line. There was lots of good, but Peko ultimately was a big culprit in two huge runs and a big part of the Broncos problems on run defense.
Derek Wolfe: C
Wolfe had fewer flash plays than Peko but wasn’t challenged as much as New York ran it away from him for the most part. He had a couple pressures but didn’t make much of an impact beyond that. For one of the true tone-setters on this entire team, you’d like to see a bit more.
Adam Gotsis: C
Gotsis got himself a nice hustle sack closing down immediately on Eli Manning as he tried to escape the pocket. He too had a few plays in the opposing backfield, creating pressure and getting a couple run-stops early. The issue was against the run where he got “walloped” (as Chirs Collinsworth put it) by D.J. Fluker on a pull opening up a big hole for a 47-yard run. As the game wore on so did Gotsis with the rest of the d-line.
Von Miller: B-
Miller didn’t have enough of an impact against right tackle Justin Pugh who should have been easy pickings. Especially in the early part of the game when the Giants built their lead. Von had very little extra help or chips to his side and just didn’t win enough one-on-one matchups in the first half.
He got a big sack on third down in the fourth quarter on a nice inside move to force an essential three-and-out late. Von was solid against the run but his lack of impact in one-on-one situations hurt, there’s no doubt.
Todd Davis: C-
Davis started off well with a nice tackle combining with Darian Stewart on the first run of the game to force 3rd-and-6. After that, things got complicated. Darkwa got him on a couple runs where he didn’t come up and close the hole quickly enough and then tight end Evan Engram exploited him in single coverage for a big gain. A serious mismatch that hurt the Broncos as they were desperate to get the G-men’s offense off the field in the third quarter.
He’s played well this season, but in the game in which he saw the most snaps, 45, he disappointed.
Brandon Marshall: C+
Marshall had a missed tackle on Wayne Gallman in the run and didn’t come up to close a running lane quickly enough on another play. Aside from that, he played ok. He had a great pass breakup on the first attempt to Engram and came up to make another good tackle against the run early on.
Like most of the ‘D,’ his first half grade is much higher than the second half.
Shaquil Barrett: C-
Barrett started off well with a big coverage sack on 3rd-and-goal to force a New York field goal that was seemingly huge for Denver. After that, he had his worst game of the year.
He was unable to disengage from a tight end block allowing a 10-yard Darkwa run. He was then beat off the edge on a huge run giving New York a first down with less than three minutes remaining. He was also easily beaten in coverage when isolated on Engram for another first down.
Barrett’s lack of impact in pass rush was also a factor on top of him having his worst game defending the run.
Darian Stewart: B-
Stewart flew up the middle to make a crucial tackle for a loss to force a Giants punt late in the game. Too little too late for the secondary warrior who should have likely seen more snaps up close on the line.
Justin Simmons: C
Simmons had to battle with Engram and lost the matchup at the end of the day. To start things off, while Simmons was playing close to the line, the rookie tight end beat him on 3rd-and-6 for a first first-down early on. Then, Engram was able to get open on his all-important touchdown.
Simmons did play great coverage on Engram, knocking out what would have been a 3rd-and-3 catch from his hands. He was also sound tackling against the run but ultimately was hurt by the two big catches he allowed.
Chris Harris Jr.: B-
Harris seemed to get beat on a crossing route by Engram for a big gain on the first drive of the game. Though, much like in the loss to the Buffalo Bills, he seemed to be looking around expecting help.
That’s a sign that some things need cleaning up in the secondary. We didn’t’ see much out of No. 25 after that.
Aqib Talib: A-
Talib wasn’t tested at all by Manning, who maybe knew that avoiding costly turnovers would give his team a chance.
Other noteworthy defensive performances
Bradley Roby made a nice pass deflection on 3rd-and-3 to limit the G-men to a field goal. He played very well in coverage when tested.
Corey Nelson was absolutely swallowed up by guard John Jerry allowing a big hole up the middle for the Giants to get out of their own one-yard line. He played more in this one and didn’t contribute much in a positive way.
Garett Bolles: B+
Bolles had his best game in pass protection as a pro. He especially was great in the first half, where he played flawlessly. You could really see his athleticism.
He committed an avoidable dumb holding penalty in the third quarter that lowers his grade, though he was one of the few truly bright spots in this one.
Allen Barbre: D
Barbre didn’t play well in this game as he had few standout positive plays and several negative ones. He was flagged for a holding penalty, setting a drive back early on and really struggled with Damon Harrison, who was a thorn in Denver’s spine all game.
One play, in particular, stood out as Harrison just bull rushed Barbre and knocked him over. Absolutely abusing the left guard on an inside rush, allowing a sack on Siemian that stalled a promising drive in the middle of the third quarter.
Max Garcia: D
The issue with the Barbre-Garcia rotation was that neither played well. Garcia was also beaten by Harrison up the middle to disrupt the run. He then allowed an interior pressure on a throw that was forced out of Siemian’s hands falling short and then conceded yet another pressure.
At times, he got out in space like Barbre on some pulls, but ultimately it didn’t make a difference. Not running the ball much hurt him as he was forced to pass protect more and struggled.
Matt Paradis: C+
Paradis struggled with Harrison like the entire interior O-line. He was fairly clean in pass protection but was unable to consistently hold the point of attack.
Ronald Leary: C
Leary wasn’t a bully in this one, lacking the push in the run game that he’s created in other contests this season. He was also called for a facemask, pinning the Broncos back on a two-minute drive at end of the first half. In pass protection, he was probably the best of the bunch with Bolles, a small consolation.
Menelik Watson: C-
Watson only played one half as he was injured and replaced by Billy Turner for the remainder of the game. He struggled with Jason Pierre-Paul and allowed a strip fumble that was recovered by Siemian.
He did hold his own against JPP in the red zone in pass protection and wasn’t terrible aside from the fumble but not great either.
C.J. Anderson: C-
Anderson was unable to get the 4th-and-goal touchdown from the one-yard line, or maybe he did, we’ll never know. That’s the most memorable play in a fairly quiet game for the Broncos bellcow back.
Demaryius Thomas: A
D.T. was huge in this game, playing great and doing his thing even when banged up. He battled with Janoris Jenkins all game and won most of the time. He drew a couple big pass interference calls and made tough catches in traffic while also catching a deep bomb in double coverage.
He did have the heartbreaking 4th-and-5 fumble right after running by the sticks, but ultimately Thomas did everything he could in this one.
A truly heroic performance from No. 88.
Emmanuel Sanders: C
Sanders had a great catch and run for Broncos big first gain, he caught four more passes but didn’t feel like he made much of an impact. He was then injured and forced off the field for the remainder of this one.
Virgil Green: C
Green stood out in two consecutive plays in the middle of the second quarter; first he made a nice grab when getting open on a route up the seam to kick start Denver’s drive but was immediately called for a hold on the very next play while run blocking.
His impact as a run blocker was severely limited with Denver’s ground attack being abandoned so early on.
Trevor Siemian: C-
Siemian’s game really comes down to the two interceptions, that’s what made the difference in this one, and he’ll have to live with that.
The pick-six, above all, was just a boneheaded read and throw, with bad ball placement. The other INT was a force in cover-2 that didn’t work out.
He did have some nice deep throws, especially to Thomas, but was just too inaccurate with his touch on short passes in third-and-mediums. He’s also struggled with his passes on the run as of late.
His touchdown to Heuerman was another great tight-window throw, but the consistency was lacking. As the offense rested on his shoulders it’s the two turnovers he made that’ll haunt him
Other noteworthy offensive performances:
Jamaal Charles had a terrific blitz pick up on Sanders’ first big catch and was used a decent amount. He still hasn’t broken that one tackle to get a big gain.
Bennie Fowler was held by B.J. Goodson in the red zone on a missed call. He was targeted several times in the red zone but didn’t create enough separation. He made a gutsy catch and run with five minutes left in the game, but his impact didn’t match the amount of targets he received.
Billy Turner played serviceably replacing Watson in the third quarter. He was beaten badly on a sack by JPP 10 minutes into the fourth quarter and was then called on a bad false start on fourth down forcing 4th-and-15.
Jeff Heuerman made a spectacular grab in traffic for an all-important first touchdown of the game.
Special Teams: D
This grade all comes down to kicker Brandon McManus who missed another chip shot early in the game. He had a blocked 53-yard attempt later on that really killed the Broncos momentum at that time, and that falls on the entire special teams kicking unit.
The Broncos did get a blocked kick of their own from Adam Gotsis on a Giants 49-yarder. Beyond that, Brendan Langley took off for an impressive 47-yard return, but special teams hurt more than they helped.
The Broncos looked like they only worried about themselves in this one, not game planning or taking advantage of the great issues that the Giants had coming into the game.
Mike McCoy didn’t seem to have a plan to attack the Giants depleted depth at cornerback as they missed Dominique Rodgers Cromartie. The two screens Denver tried seemed to work, they just didn’t attempt many more and had no answer for the tight grabby coverage New York played. The run game was abandoned too soon, and it seemed like the Broncos didn’t use nearly enough jumbo packages to help ease their issues in pass pro or running the ball.
Joe Woods’ defensive plan to stop the Giants only real offensive weapon seemed nonexistent, as first-rounder Evan Engram got open at will and was far too often found in single coverage against linebackers who were too easily exploitable. With street free agents playing at wide receiver for the Giants, not committing extra help towards Engram was inexplicable.
Vance Joseph’s staff’s game plan and preparation issues aside, there was also a puzzling game score decision as Joseph went for it on 4th-and-goal instead of taking the field goal when still down 17 points (three possessions).
With the Giants coaching staff seemingly on scorching hot seats, they won the battle of the headsets, severely out coaching the Broncos who didn’t look sharp coming off a bye. Which is as big an indictment on the staff as any.