Broncos Game Grades: Young secondary shines

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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.


Zach Kerr: C

Domata Peko’s absence was felt as Kerr tried his best to fill that void but wasn’t nearly the same presence stuffing the run.

Kerr did have a nice play stopping Kenyon Drake in his tracks clogging his run gap towards the end of the first half, he then combined with Von Miller to get a sack in the fourth quarter.

On the negative side, aside from a limited impact stopping the run in 46 total snaps Kerr was flagged for a neutral zone infraction on 3rd-and-1. A good effort but he showed his limitations as a full-time starter.

Shelby Harris: B

In 40 snaps filling in for Derek Wolfe, Harris had some great flashes, such as bursting through the line to get a shoe-string tackle on Jay Cutler for a sack. He then exploded off the line to create easy penetration and tackle Drake in the backfield. Harris also had a nice pressure on the quarterback at the beginning of the fourth quarter.

His game wasn't super consistent but he did make some fine plays.

Adam Gotsis: C+

Gotsis wasn’t great, though, on a rewatch, he was slightly better than it initially appeared. The one play that stands out is how No. 99 wasn’t able to disengage from his block as Drake danced behind him before taking off for his huge 42-yard touchdown.

He did have a really nice run stop on the very first play and tackled Drake 10 yards downfield later on combining with Todd Davis. He also created great interior pressure on 3rd-and-11 down in the red zone forcing the ball out quickly.

He had a solid start but at times was underwhelming on a play-to-play basis.

Von Miller: A

Von played really, well creating constant pressure. He was also fantastic stopping the run where he made some spectacular plays most of all a tackle for a loss where he took a bad angle and seemed blocked, yet still beat his blocker managing to make a close to impossible tackle in the backfield. He also was held bringing back a big run by Drake in the second half.

He had two different sacks when the Broncos needed them most, and was forcing Cutler to shift around in the pocket plenty. Sadly it wasn’t enough.

Todd Davis: A

Davis had a fantastic game, even making some big plays in coverage though he was likely guilty of pass interference for not turning around on at least one (if not both) of those plays. Against the run, he made plays all over, bursting into the backfield and creating stops.

He was taking receivers down over the middle of the field and was close to perfect, the only issue he had was one missed tackle but played a great game otherwise.

Brandon Marshall: D

Marshall just didn’t look like himself and was somewhat absent in this game, creating little impact.

No. 54 stuck out for a couple different poor plays like letting Drake spin out of a tackle or whiffing completely after getting blocked out on Drake’s big 42-yard TD. He also lost tight end Anthony Fasano on a big completion for 29-yards.

Shane Ray: C

Credit to Ray for playing through the flu as he didn’t seem 100-percent and split time with Shaquil Barrett. Ray created some pressure and was forcing Cutler to shift around the pocket from time to time, though his closing burst wasn’t quite there to finish off any plays.

Darian Stewart: C

Stewart, like Marshall, just hasn’t been himself and this was another game where his impact wasn’t felt, at least not in a positive way. He did have a nice tackle in space to bring his receiver down ahead of the first down marker, but he also missed some tackles against the run which was an issue. In coverage or against the ground game he just wasn’t a reliable last line of defense.

Justin Simmons: B+

Simmons played his butt off, even if he was far from perfect and allowed a few too many plays including a touchdown in which he looked silly. He was also asked to cover in the slot a lot more than usual playing valiantly, not to mention he made some big-time tackles against the run.

Simmons’ big play was a fine pick-six that ended up being the Broncos lone touchdown, the awareness, ball skills, and cover ability he showed on that play were all pretty special.

Chris Harris Jr.: A

Harris looked more like himself in this one, being asked to be the lockdown boundary cornerback. He did allow two early Jarvis Landry completions—one on a pick play. But his play of the game was a fantastic acrobatic interception, tipping the ball to himself and grabbing it as he spun around to then still run after the catch.

This was Harris back to his best in coverage which was a beautiful thing to see.

Bradley Roby: A

Roby had a fine performance as well, making tons of plays on the ball and ending up with three pass deflections. He just played sticky coverage and showed great instincts jumping routes with ease.

He made a great play with a clutch forced fumble down in Broncos territory, punching the ball out and then recovering it himself. It also helped nullify a big gain for Miami.

Really, Roby was perfect if not for a Kenny Stills gain on broken coverage where it looked like he slipped and was only able to recover to make a tackle. Aside from that, he made a huge play and was phenomenal in coverage, a big sign for his future as a starter.

Other noteworthy defensive performances: 

Will Parks was targeted in the end zone on Miami’s opening score by Julius Thomas who Parks was isolated on to the outside. The safety never even got his head turned around and was too easily exploited.

Shaquil Barrett had a nice tackle setting a strong edge against the run as Drake tried to kick outside, he probably outplayed Ray though he too didn't create tons of pressure.


Garett Bolles: D

The rookie's struggles continued, and it’s becoming quite frustrating for the team as it affects the offense significantly. Bolles allowed a 3rd-and-11 sack as he simply wasn’t able to anchor against Andre Branch. He was also called for a false start, and, with Garcia, allowed a pressure on Siemian who took a vicious hit to his legs.

More telling than anything, he was flagged for an obvious holding on 2nd-and-15 for basically tackling the defender to the ground because he wasn’t moving his feet. First, one wonders where’s the athleticism on a play like that? But even worse, Bolles argued the call acting like he made a legitimate block. How will he improve if he doesn’t even know it’s illegal to tackle opposing offensive lineman?

A frustrating outing as the progression in his development’s been missing.

Max Garcia: D

Without a consistent run game, Garcia’s impact is lessened, and he struggled against a fast Miami defense that was excited to get after a struggling o-line group.

After setting a nice block on a pull during the Broncos opening drive for a six-yard run, Garcia’s game only went downhill. First, he was flagged for holding, and he allowed several pressures up the middle including a third-down sack where he just was too slow getting to his spot allowing the lineman to win inside leverage.

Matt Paradis: D

Paradis also struggled with his worst play of the season coming on an errant high snap over Siemian’s head to gift a safety to the Dolphins, setting the Broncos back right off the bat.

He also let Ndamukong Suh—who gave the Broncos interior line fits all day—go untouched to the quarterback on a stunt for a big pressure.

Paradis was then called on a holding penalty at the end of the game as the Broncos were in their two-minute offense trying to get a score. He just hasn’t been the reliable, consistent presence the Broncos need out of their veteran center.

Connor McGovern: D

McGovern struggled some in his debut as a starter. To start, things off he couldn’t get out quickly enough on a kick-out block on play action, allowing pressure into Trevor’s face almost immediately, forcing an incompletion.

He then was simply manhandled by Suh who just pushed him of the way on the two-point conversion and was immediately in the QB’s face.

McGovern added a false start penalty to his tally at the beginning of the fourth quarter, with Denver already backed up at their own five.

Donald Stephenson: D

In his return to the starting lineup, Stephenson, like the rest of the line, didn’t play the cleanest game. He, too, was called for holding, although it was nullified thanks to offsetting penalties, which was lucky for the right tackle as it could’ve been a safety as Stephenson was holding awfully close to his own end zone. By our count, every starter on the line was flagged at least once this game.

Stephenson also allowed Suh to roll off of him on a spin move on a 2nd-and-10 bootleg, forcing Siemian to throw it away in a hurry for an incompletion. He was then completely beat off the edge on 3rd-and-6 in the middle of the fourth quarter to force yet another incompletion and punt. He probably outplayed Allen Barbre's last outing but was far from good.

C.J. Anderson: B+

Anderson did a nice job not just running tough up the middle as he always does but also in impacting the game as a receiver where he made some crucial gains. He also showed a bit more quickness to the outside.

C.J. didn’t put his head down or pout, he kept playing tough, fighting for every yard and was the only guy on offense who the Dolphins had to legitimately respect.

Demaryius Thomas: D

DT hasn't looked 100-percent in the last few games as he’s not separating from coverage nor is he coming down with contested grabs, and he's also had too many drops.

With the issues in the passing game, this was his worst outing as he only caught two of 10 targets for 27 yards, had at least one drop that should’ve been hauled in (on third-and-long none the less), and only had one reception until the fourth quarter started. A lot of the issues are on the guys passing him the ball, but DT hasn’t been himself as of late, and he's playing really poorly for his standards.

Emmanuel Sanders: D

Sanders also looked slowed down, and his impact was completely nullified by the Fins ‘D,’ combined with the passing offense's issues.

He did drop a slant on a tough contest that he probably should’ve had and had zero receptions off of four targets in the first three quarters. That’s not enough from what should be one of the offenses two stars.

Virgil Green: B

Green got open for a big gain on play action with a nice run too for a 36 yard gain. After that, Green saw the field for the fewest time he has all season, 21 snaps, tying his Week 9 season low. He and the backs did a good job in protection early on though even that dissipated as the game progressed.

Trevor Siemian: F

In the context of every throw, meaningful plays on third down, and in the red zone this was easily Siemian’s worst game from start to finish.

His biggest issue was his accuracy as he struggled to complete anything that was more than a check down underneath. His ball placement, especially, was off, leading to his first two interceptions—one of which was the pick-six that broke the game open for Miami.

He got beat up by the end of the game but even with good protection, the accuracy was hit or miss. The arm strength and ability to make throws on the run that have at least flashed at other times in his young career were nowhere to be found Week 13.

There were few positives to take from this one as Siemian’s confidence looks shot right now.

Other noteworthy offensive performances:  

Devontae Booker didn’t play much as he was dealing with the flu but he did have a great blitz pickup on Green’s nice play action catch.

Special Teams: F-

Another tough outing for a special teams unit that’s had a poor season at best. As the Broncos tried getting back into the game, they attempted an onside kick that they couldn’t convert in the third quarter and then were surprised by a Dolphins onside kick in the fourth that Miami recovered.

Isaiah McKenzie also ran backward on a punt return trying to make a play only to fumble the ball and recovered it in the Denver end zone for another safety. For some reason, McKenzie was kept in the game for punt returns after that.

The Broncos punt unit did not do well, either, with the Dolphins blocking a Riley Dixon kick in the third quarter. They also allowed a 27-yard return to speedster Jakeem Grant as the Dolphins had great field position all day long.

Coaching: F

Other games have been embarrassing for the coaching staff but this one, in particular, was a true embarrassment as the Dolphins made a statement, kicked the Broncos while they were down and didn’t let up. The staff’s response was timid.

The Dolphins onside kick only added insult to injury after Denver couldn't convert their own onside attempt a quarter earlier. Denver’s response was calling a few embarrassing timeouts on the goal line that led to a sack and an incompletion that had no chance.

The team’s only gotten worst so far and despite obvious talent on defense can’t get things to change. The touchdown to Julius Thomas was just bad, poor scheme, too easy to beat.

This was simply a poor showing form the staff, with few positives to take from this.

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