Kyle Newman, Denver Post Broncos writer

Kyle Newman, Denver Post Broncos writer

JACKSONVILLE – Senior writer John Oehser will talk each week during the 2022 regular season with a writer or media member covering the Jaguars’ opponent.

Denver Post Broncos writer Kyle Newman on the Broncos as they head into Sunday’s 2022 Week 8 game against the Jaguars at Wembley Stadium in London.

Q: The Broncos hired Nathaniel Hackett as head coach this offseason and traded with the Seattle Seahawks for quarterback Russell Wilson. They are now 2-5 and last in the AFC West, having lost four straight games – including a 16-9 home loss to the New York Jets last Sunday. What is the state of the Broncos going into Sunday?

ONE: It’s total panic out here in Broncos Country. Everybody looked at this season and the way the schedule was set up and they said, “OK, first half before the bye, we can really get some momentum going under Russ with this new offense. Hackett. Mojo. All the juice.” That has all gone out the window. We saw Nathaniel Hackett on Zoom Monday. He looked rather ragged. He looked like a first-year head coach coming off a 2-5 season. More than anything, people are wondering, “Uh-oh. Was Seattle right? Did the[Broncos]pull the trigger on trading for Russ at the wrong time?” Plus: The Broncos gave Wilson a five-year extension before he even played a down. Was it a little too early? Second, everyone is wondering if Nathaniel Hackett can become a head coach in the NFL. So far, the consensus from fans and the media is no. He has some work to do, not only in London, but after the Week 9 bye to make sure he’s not on the hot seat and to make sure he has a job for Year 2 here.

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Q: Were the expectations just too high?

ONE: The expectations were too high. In the preseason, Hackett and Russ weren’t afraid to say not only that the playoffs were the goal, but that the Super Bowl was the goal. Not only are we seeing the growing pains of a first-year head coach, but a first-year head coach with a new quarterback, a quarterback trying to find his way in the system. Perhaps the biggest thing is that there was a misconception that the Broncos were only one quarterback away. Actually, it doesn’t look like that. We see it on the offensive. We see underperformance from some of the players on offense overall. All of this is a perfect storm that contributes to a 2-5 start.

Q: Your assessment of Wilson through seven games?

ONE: I would say sub par and on a grading scale… a C- and maybe a D+. The defense has played as well as you could ask for. It plays like one of the best defenses in the NFL. Cornerback Patrick Surtain II might be the best cornerback in the NFL. The offense has single-handedly cost them four games, including Sunday against the Jets. They are last in the NFL in points per game. That probably says most of it. The fact that some people long for the days of [former offensive coordinator] Pat Shurmur and [quarterback] Drew Lock does not bode well for the start of the Russell Wilson era. [Former quarterback] Peyton Manning started 2-3 his first season (2012), so some Broncos fans are sticking with it. Peyton took it up to historic levels by year 2. This offense is not at that level at all.

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Q: What will they be offensively?

ONE: Good question. I don’t even know if they know. At the beginning of the year it was “[running back] Javonte [Williams] is going to be the featured guy, and we’re going to use Russ and all these dynamic weapons to air it whenever we want.” To start the season, Javonte was the No. 1 back, but it wasn’t like he was the bellwether. He still shared carriers. Now Williams is injured [with a season-ending torn anterior cruciate ligament]. They have a big question at running back. They don’t really trust Melvin Gordon because of his fumbles. They have Latavius ​​Murray and Mike Boone is injured [with an ankle injury]. They also have many offensive weapons that underperform. What will they be as an offense? They want to be a dynamic passing offense that can also put up 100 yards on the ground. They have been none of these things so far.

Q: And the defense is ranked second in the NFL…

ONE: The defense has exceeded expectations and those expectations were quite high. I give [outside linebacker] Bradley Chubb much credit. He is playing up to high expectations in a contract year. [Defensive end] Dre’mont Jones is having a breakout campaign. PS2 (Surtain) is one of the best corners in the league. [Safety] Justin Simmons is still doing well. Even though they’ve had injuries, they’ve had the depth guys step up. I have to imagine [former Broncos Head Coach] Vic Fangio sits somewhere with some popcorn every weekend and watches the games and says, “Look, this is practically my group.” I imagine he takes some comfort in that.

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Q: So what does success look like for this team? What do you see after the last 10 games?

ONE: At this point, the success of the Broncos shows that the plan they have in place is actually going to work. A, that Russell Wilson is still an elite quarterback. B, that Nathaniel Hackett can actually hack it as an NFL head coach. The crime must show a spark, some kind of life. The Broncos are not going to make the playoffs. They still have to play Kansas City twice. The Chiefs have beaten them 13 times in a row. I bet it’s 15 by the end of the year. They need to show that somehow the arrow is going up, because right now Broncos Country is back in the same place they were last year, except now they have a new head coach they don’t believe in and a veteran quarterback they suddenly wonder about on. , “Were the Seahawks right about him?”

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