Broncos Report Card: Offense, defense do part after slow start to beat Jaguars

Offense — B

At one point, the Broncos scored points in five of seven possessions on their way to turning a 7-0 deficit into a 20-7 lead. The start again left a little to be desired — field goal, punt and punt — and the Broncos were 2 of 11 on third down. Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater was again lights out throwing the football (26 of 34 for 328 yards) and it was a career game for receiver Courtland Sutton, who set career highs in catches (nine) and yards (159). Life without receiver Jerry Jeudy included spreading out the touches to nine players. Noah Fant and Tim Patrick had touchdown receptions. But this was about Sutton, who had one catch last week in his first game back from a torn ACL but now looks like a Pro Bowler.

Defense — B

No points allowed after the first drive plus two second-half takeaways for the defense as coach Vic Fangio improved to 19-9 all-time against rookie quarterbacks. Trevor Lawrence threw for only 118 yards, the Jaguars ran zero red zone snaps and the Broncos got interceptions from safety Kareem Jackson and cornerback Pat Surtain II. The penalties are an issue and defensive end Dre’Mont Jones should expect a fine for his dangerous low hit of Lawrence. The concerns are injuries. Outside linebacker Bradley Chubb (ankle) and inside linebacker Josey Jewell (shoulder) left the game in the first half, testing the team’s depth.

Special teams — F

The special teams get a failing grade even with kicker Brandon McManus going 3 of 3 on field goals (32, 46 and 40 yards) and Sam Martin averaging 44.5 yards net on four punts. Mike Ford, acquired after training camp specifically for his special teams play, made it two 15-yard penalties in as many games. His roster spot should be in doubt because this isn’t a team good enough to give away free yards. Baron Browning also had a penalty. But the F is handed out because of Jamal Agnew’s 102-yard kickoff return touchdown with 5:26 left to cut the Broncos’ lead to 23-13. Overall, just not good enough for a team that wants to go places.

Coaching — B

Coach Vic Fangio made the proper adjustments after the Jaguars drove 83 yards for an opening-possession touchdown. He mixed in dime personnel with rookie safety Caden Sterns and rushed three players, dropping his outside linebackers into coverage. Playing with a lead, the Broncos had to know the takeaways would eventually arrive and they did in the second half. Offensively, coordinator Pat Shurmur’s well-designed play allowed receiver Tim Patrick to cross the field uncovered for a 12-yard touchdown to give the Broncos the lead for good. Special teams coordinator Tom McMahon will have a long week trying to find capable players who can tackle and not commit penalties.

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