After five straight losses dating all the way back to the end of October, the Denver Broncos finally found themselves back in the win column in Week 15.
The matchup between the Broncos and Arizona Cardinals was poised to be a low-scoring affair after it was revealed both teams’ starting quarterbacks would be their second-string quarterbacks. And the matchup between Brett Rypien and Colt McCoy did start slow, for two periods that is. But at some point during halftime, something clicked with the Broncos. They came out of the locker room looking like a different team, and McCoy actually got hurt.
In the end, Rypien and the Broncos were able to rally from being down at halftime, securing a 24-10 victory. Let’s discuss some studs and duds in the Broncos’ Week 15 win.
Murray really went from sitting on the New Orleans Saints’ practice squad to being the starting running back for the Broncos late in the season.
Murray was signed to help with depth after the Broncos found themselves snakebitten by injuries. Melvin Gordon was the starter for a few weeks, but he was ultimately cut due to his poor performance and fumble issues. Suddenly Murray was thrust into the starting role, and he has done a great job with it.
Latavius Murray increases the @Broncos lead 👀
📺: #AZvsDEN on FOX
📱: Stream on NFL+ https://t.co/W6A4BDcRnV pic.twitter.com/O1vJq1yz02
— NFL (@NFL) December 18, 2022
In the game against the Cardinals, Murray galloped for 130 yards and one touchdown. Despite the Broncos’ offensive line being nothing short of abysmal, Murray still found success. Because Murray had himself a great game, it greatly helped propel the rest of the offense forward.
Jeudy has certainly struggled to find an identity in his first few years in the league. Coming out of college, Jeudy was a highly touted wide receiver. Unfortunately, Jeudy hasn’t really performed up to the expectations for a wide receiver selected in the first round of the NFL Draft. Fans were quick to write him off as a bust, but it might be too early for claims like that.
Despite the Broncos’ season going just about as poorly as anyone imagined, Jeudy has started to warm up a bit late in the season. Suddenly we’re able to see his crisp route running and elusiveness.
Jerry Jeudy clips vs. the Arizona Cardinals pic.twitter.com/YRXxwSkSNP
— Frankie Abbott (@FrankiesFilm) December 20, 2022
While Jeudy didn’t get a touchdown in the game against the Cardinals, he was still the Broncos’ leading receiver with 76 receiving yards. He also averaged a pretty solid 10.9 yards per catch.
While Jeudy was Rypien’s favorite receiver on the day, hopefully, Wilson will grow closer to the talented wide receiver as well. Can’t deny that a Wilson-to-Jeudy pairing could be enticing when they’re both playing at their best.
Simmons missed a good chunk of games early in the season because of an injury. When he returned, he definitely had some rust he had to shake off. Now that the rust is fully off, it’s great to see Simmons back to his prime form again.
Simmons and the Broncos’ secondary had a bit of a field day against the Cardinals’ quarterbacks. Simmons hauled in two interceptions, had four total tackles (two of them being solo), and two passes defended.
How many INTs does Justin Simmons have today? ✌️@jsimms1119 | #BroncosCountry
📺: #AZvsDEN on FOX
📱: Stream on NFL+ https://t.co/W6A4BDcRnV pic.twitter.com/5Fd3hE7xCg
— NFL (@NFL) December 18, 2022
The Broncos’ defense as a whole undoubtedly plays better when Simmons is healthy and on the field. He is a leader in that secondary, and he will continue to be a key player on that defense for many years.
The entire Broncos offensive line
Yes, the Broncos’ offensive line is basically comprised of backups, but you’d think they’d be able to block at least a little bit, right? Well for weeks now, it seems like they’ve just completely forgotten how to block.
Against the Cardinals, the Broncos’ offensive line allowed seven sacks on Rypien. Three of those sacks came from JJ Watt, who had a monster game all of a sudden despite being in the twilight of his career.
With how poor the offensive line is performing, the Broncos might consider sitting Wilson for the remainder of the season. The season is already over for the Broncos, and they aren’t playing for anything but pride at this point. No point in risking injury with your $243 million dollar quarterback.
It has become very evident that the Broncos made the wrong decision with their punters by picking Waitman over Sam Martin. Martin was doing just fine and was initially winning the training camp battle against Waitman. The Broncos chose the cheaper route, and it has come back to bite them.
Waitman has not performed well. He has had a few okay games, but a majority of the time he has punted at a below-average level. Against the Cardinals, he averaged 44.8 yards per punt, which is not exactly great. In fact, Waitman is ranked as the fifth-worst punter in the league.
Field position is everything in the NFL. Being the fifth-worst punter in the league isn’t going to cut it. The Broncos should look to move on from Waitman in the offseason.