The New York Jets stood toe to toe with the mighty Kansas City Chiefs last Sunday before being defeated, 23-20 in a heartbreaker. Despite the loss, Zach Wilson played the best game of his career, giving Jets fans a little hope for the future. Now the Jets go on the road to take on the struggling Denver Broncos in what on paper looks like a winnable game. Despite facing one of the easiest schedules in the NFL thus far, the Broncos are just a field goal away from being winless for the 2023 NFL season. Quarterback Russell Wilson has looked much improved under the tutelage of new Broncos head coach Sean Payton, but the Broncos defense has been a disaster. This looks like it might be a good opportunity for Zach Wilson to start stringing a few good performances together.
Previewing this matchup, Ian St. Clair of Mile High Report was kind enough to answer a few questions regarding the 2023 Denver Broncos.
Check out the Q&A below, and be sure to check out DraftKings Sportsbook for all your betting needs this season.
1. Last year’s unsuccessful Bronco’s season was largely blamed on the job head coach Nathaniel Hackett did. This year the Broncos fired Hackett and brought in highly regarded head coach Sean Payton, yet the early results have been arguably worse than last year. So … what is going on with the Broncos? Why are they struggling as much as they are, and what do you expect for the remainder of this season?
In terms of the record, it may be “worse.” The area both of these head coaches focus on is where you see a startling difference. The offense under Payton is light years better than it was under Hackett. As for the Broncos as a whole, there are a couple of reasons for the 1-3 start. The defense has been terrible under Vance Joseph and I don’t expect that to change. The only hope is for the offense to start playing complete games and score a lot of points. The other issue is that the Broncos have been so bad for so long they’ve forgotten how to win. We’ll see how the comeback win against the Bears does with that, but I still feel like this team will struggle the rest of the season.
2. Each team’s fanbase knows their team much better than other fans. Usually there are a few guys who your team’s fans know about and love, but other fans might not be too familiar with. Could you let Jets fans know a few unsung heroes on the Broncos, if possible at least one on both offense and defense?
For Denver’s offense, it’s Marvin Mims and Jaleel McLaughlin. Both are rookies and both have been the best surprises on offense through four games. Mims is a receiver and returner who forces you to inch forward in your chair or sofa when he touches the ball. McLaughlin is an undrafted running back with the same game-breaking speed and play-making ability. Both Mims and McLaughlin are so much fun to watch. On defense, it’s edge Nik Bonitto. His game against the Bears last Sunday was his best in the NFL. The hope now for the Broncos is that Bonitto becomes consistent with these showings. If Denver wins on Sunday, these three guys will likely be the main reason.
3. How is the 2023 Broncos draft class working out? Who are the early contributors?
I just mentioned two of them, so I would say that makes this draft class a success. The other player for Jets fans to keep an eye on is Drew Sanders. He hasn’t been anything special but has incredible potential to become a great middle linebacker. Broncos general manager George Paton has had some good draft classes, his struggle is in free agency.
4. If you were the head coach of a rival team, how would you go about attacking this Denver Broncos team on offense and on defense?
On offense, it’s all about consistent pressure that keeps Wilson in the pocket. That’s when he struggles. Also, force the Broncos to be one-dimensional by stopping the run. On defense, run the ball and attack Damarri Mathis. Heck, attack just about anyone in the Broncos secondary that isn’t Pat Surtain. I can’t emphasize enough how terrible this Denver defense is. Hackett should do nothing but call runs for Breece Hall on Sunday and then pass to whoever Mathis is “covering.”
5. If you were a betting man which team would you bet on winning this game, and why?
It’s always important to separate the fandom from betting. That’s a little more difficult with the Broncos, but I think the comeback win over the Bears sparks Russell Wilson and this team. Now I have no faith in the Broncos defense, I just think Wilson and Payton will put a complete game together on offense and they won’t disappear for stretches like we’ve seen the first four games. However, Breece Hall is the X-factor. If he goes off as he did before he got injured, that will set the Jets up for success.