Three observations from the Broncos’ ugly Week 2 win over the Texans


The Denver Broncos played at home for the first time this season Sunday in Week 2 against the Houston Texans. They came away with the win by a score of 16-9, but it could have been the most disappointing win in Broncos team history.

The Texans aren’t a good football team, but the Broncos did everything they could to try to give the game away. Discipline issues, penalties, inefficiency in the red zone and game plan issues continue to plague this team. It’s only been two games, but the Broncos haven’t been as good as I thought.

Here are my three biggest observations from the win over the Texans.


Who do you trust?

The Broncos offense is all about using two-TE sets early and often. At least it would be like that if they had the right guys in place. Whether it’s an injury (Greg Dulcich) or an inconsistency (Albert Okwuegbunam), the Broncos aren’t in a tight spot right now. Even so, the attack design could be huge if Dulcich regains his health or Okwuegbunam becomes a more complete player.

The game of football is all about confidence. You have to trust the teammate you’re huddled with that they’ll be able to play when called. Since the starters haven’t played in pre-season, Russell Wilson is trying to figure out which players can earn his trust. Early in the game, Wilson attempted to hit a wide open Okwuegbunam and the young tight end dropped the ball. Either he was thinking about chasing the catch or Okwuegbunam was thinking about incoming contact, but the play ended in a disappointing result.

During the game, Okwuegbunam was targeted twice but failed to pass. Wilson tries to make plays under duress, and he needs receivers to step in for him when the chips are down. While Okwuegbunam disappointed, veteran Eric Saubert made a big play for Wilson. In fact, Saubert caught Wilson’s only touchdown pass of the day. He was only targeted once, but Saubert came in big and caught the touchdown (while well covered) for a 22-yard catch.

It’s not just Okwuegbunam, but all receivers have to earn Wilson’s trust. Since training camp, Saubert has earned that confidence. In fact, he might be the most consistent of all the tight ends on the roster. Saubet is neither the biggest nor the fastest, but this regularity could bring him more shots. Gaining Wilson’s trust will likely allow him to achieve more goals and become more involved in the game plan.


Randy Gregory arrives

I was curious when the Broncos signed Randy Gregory earlier this offseason. Denver giving Gregory a five-year, $70 million contract means he’s going to be a big part of their plans. However, I criticized the move for several reasons.

First, Gregory’s career sack record is six. He’s hit that mark twice in his career (2018, 2021), but Gregory hasn’t surpassed that. Second, Gregory struggled with injuries and suspensions and never played a full season in his professional career. Finally, Gregory’s style with the Dallas Cowboys included a lot of freestyle and not the precision that I felt was necessary for him to take the next step.

Sunday, Gregory made me a believer. Now it’s a game against a bad team, but I saw everything I needed to see from the veteran passer. People will focus on his sack numbers, but Gregory was making plays that the box score won’t reflect. He got 1.0 sack, but Gregory also had 3 quarterback hits. In addition to what he did against the quarterback, Gregory did a good job stopping the run. He didn’t even need to tackle, but I like how Gregory gave the run defense the edge. He didn’t let the ball carrier go outside, but instead turned his opponent inside where the rest of his teammates were.

Gregory started well this year. The Broncos haven’t been perfect on defense, but it helps that a player like Gregory puts in such a big effort every week.


Gadget plays the same desperation

Hackett busted some sleight of hand Sunday against the Texans. None of the pieces seemed to work as expected, and overall I think they made the team look desperate. The Texans aren’t a good team, and the Broncos didn’t have to pull out all the stops to get this win, but they did, and they won. However, I think it was a mistake to try to fix the issues when you didn’t need them.

I could list all the games, but I want to point out a terrible design that can be summed up with a right sprint option. However, instead of the quarterback carrying the ball with a running back just outside of him, the Broncos used tight end Andrew Beck as the primary ball carrier. Beck is a fullback and not necessarily a tight end, and his versatility is something the team covets. I like him as a blocker or as a receiving/H-back option, but as a ball carrier, Beck just isn’t an exciting option.

The carry was only the second of his professional career and Beck didn’t even finish the run. Instead, he returned the ball at the last second to Williams and it was quickly tackled for a small gain. The gambling option does not work at the professional level unless you have an elite athlete like Lamar Jackson. Using a fullback to run this game just doesn’t make sense, and the results speak for themselves.

I hope the Broncos cut back on trick plays and start playing smart football again. You want to show future opponents something else to prepare for, but it’s all about timing the right thing for it to happen. Hackett was rushing trick games, he was getting too cute, and the team was struggling because of his decisions to bust these games at the wrong time.



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