Don’t look now, but the Denver Broncos might be for real.
After dispatching the New York Giants in Week 1 at MetLife Stadium, the Broncos came to the east coast for the second straight week, and once again flew home victorious. Teddy Bridgewater threw a pair of touchdown passes, the Denver defense notched a pair of interceptions, and the Broncos rolled over the Jacksonville Jaguars 23-13.
One of the interceptions came from rookie cornerback Patrick Surtain II. With the Broncos facing question marks at the quarterback position, the decision to draft Surtain took some by surprise, with players such as Mac Jones and Justin Fields still on the board. But Vic Fangio has a vision for his defense, and his secondary, and Surtain’s coverage skills might be a critical component for that vision.
Those coverage skills showed up on Surtain’s first career interception:
Surtain matches the vertical route from Tyron Johnson step-for-step, and then does a tremendous job of locating the football over his shoulder, pulling in the interception, and then getting both feet down in-bounds for the turnover.
That was Denver’s second interception of the day. The first came on this great play from Kareem Jackson, stepping in front of this throw from rookie quarterback Trevor Lawrence:
As you can see from the replay angle from behind the pocket, as Lawrence locks onto his target an orange blur flashes into the picture from the right side. That blur? Jackson, as the safety is reading the eyes of the rookie quarterback and flashing to the catch point, arriving right in time to prevent a completion to tight end Luke Farrell.
Of course, even before the Broncos drafted Surtain, people believed their defense would be one of the league’s best. The question on everyone’s mind regarding the Broncos was the quarterback position. Would Drew Lock emerge as the best option, or would Fangio turn to the veteran Bridgewater? Bridgewater was the choice out of training camp, and he followed up a clean Week 1 performance with another solid afternoon, completing 26 of 34 passes for 328 yards and those two scores. That amounted to an NFL passer rating of 125.6 on the day.
On the year, Bridgewater has four touchdowns, and has yet to throw an interception.
This was actually a three-point game at the half, but the Broncos ripped off a four-play, 75-yard drive to open the third quarter that culminated in a touchdown pass to Noah Fant. The big play on that drive was this connection from Bridgewater to Courtland Sutton deep downfield, to set the Broncos up with 1st and 10 inside the red zone:
As we saw during the pre-season, Bridgewater has been more than willing to take shot plays downfield if the opportunities present themselves. On this play he finds Sutton open behind the defense, and lets it fly. Sutton settles under the throw, and Denver has a great chance to put it in the end zone.
Which they do, on this catch-and-run from Fant:
Many expected the Broncos defense to be a great unit this season, given the talent at all levels. Again, the question was the quarterback position. Through two games, Bridgewater has performed at a high level, and the Broncos find themselves with a 2-0 record having won both games on the road. Yes, you might question the level of competition, as Denver has beaten two teams with a combined 0-4 record. but you can only play teams on your schedule, and through two games, Denver has taken care of business.
And the Broncos fans who made the trip sure appreciated the work from their team:
Their defense is coming together, and Bridgewater is playing clean football. If this keeps up, the Broncos might indeed be for real.