The Denver Broncos quarterback competition is one of the biggest storylines in football, and Teddy Bridgewater had the better performance tonight, as he made a case to be Denver's starting quarterback in Week 1 over Drew Lock. Bridgewater scored on both of his drives versus the Seattle Seahawks.
The Broncos easily defeated the Seahawks 30-3 in a game where most of Seattle’s starters were resting.
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Unlike last week, Teddy Bridgewater started this game for the Broncos, and on his first drive, he led Denver on a seven-play, 55-yard drive that ended in a Bridgewater-to-K.J. Hamler touchdown. Bridgewater also had a nice play on fourth down during this drive, stepping up and finding Jerry Jeudy on a crossing route for 35 yards versus an all-out blitz.
Drew Lock was working with the second-team tonight as opposed to the first team like he did last weekend. He did struggle a bit with the backup offensive line and second-string weapons. Lock did have some nice plays, including a 33-yard pass on third down to keep the chains moving, but it does appear he lost some of the ground he gained on Bridgewater last week.
Javonte Williams flashed some of the elusive abilities that made him the best running back on PFF’s board in 2021. Seventeen of his 21 rushing yards came after contact, as the Broncos offensive line was leaky in the run game.
Royce Freeman outshined Williams in the passing game, as Williams had an ugly drop on third down. On the flip side, Freeman caught five balls for 44 yards and served as a reliable safety blanket for Bridgewater and Lock.
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Jerry Jeudy and K.J. Hamler started at receiver for the Broncos tonight. Jeudy had a big 35-yard reception on a fourth down during the opening drive where he gained 18 yards after the catch. Hamler caught a two-yard touchdown from Bridgewater while Seth Williams had a nice 33-yard gain on a flip pass from Lock.
With no Noah Fant on the field for the Broncos, Eric Saubert was targeted by Bridgewater multiple times, including a beautiful 21-yard catch to set the Broncos up at the Seahawks' one-yard line. Austin Fort also caught two passes from Lock in the second half. Finally, Shaun Beyer caught an 11-yard touchdown pass from Brett Rypien in the fourth quarter.
The Broncos played their projected starting offensive line tonight with the exception of Calvin Anderson at right tackle. From left to right: Garrett Bolles, Dalton Risner, Lloyd Cushenberry III, Graham Glasgow and Anderson made the start for Denver.
They did a good job keeping Bridgewater upright but struggled a bit in the run game, as Denver failed to score on multiple short goal-to-go situations from inside the three-yard line. They did a good job picking up some all-out blitzes the Seahawks sent on third and fourth downs, which is good to see. Anderson also switched to left tackle when Lock entered the game, showing his versatility as a swing tackle.
DeShawn Williams was one standout on the defensive line today, as he had two heads-up plays that should help him keep his spot on the team. First, he scooped up a fumble caused by Johnathon Cooper before returning it to the Seahawks' 48-yard line. Then, he read the Seahawks screen correctly at the end of the first half, which enabled him to make a great interception.
Cooper had himself a night, as the seventh-round pick notched three pressures on 14 pass-rushing snaps, including a strip-sack. On first review, Cooper had an elite 91.0 pass-rushing grade, which was the best of any player on both teams.
The Broncos rotated most of their linebackers tonight. Alexander Johnson started and posted a run stop in the process. Baron Browning also had the best PFF grade of any linebacker in the game (79.9) at first glance.
Second-year corner Michael Ojemudia also suffered a knee injury before being carted off the field. Ojemudia was slated to be a possible depth corner for the Broncos stacked secondary, but we’ll see his definitive diagnosis later this week.
Alex McGough started for the Seahawks and didn’t look particularly impressive. He threw a pick to Justin Simmons on the first drive of the game and later fumbled on a fourth down, which allowed the Broncos to start in Seattle territory.
Sean Mannion then took over in the second half and wasn’t able to generate much either, though he was able to lead the Seahawks on their only scoring drive.
Alex Collins and Rashad Penny both played with the starters, but Collins was the more effective back. Both players are fighting for the backup running back spot and averaged less than three YPC Saturday night, but Collins added 17 yards on two receptions out of the backfield.
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With the Seahawks starting receivers resting, it was a time for some of the depth players to get some action. Cade Johnson paced the team in targets, receptions and yards. John Ursua also had an efficient night, catching all three of his targets and turning them into 34 yards.
None of Seattle's tight ends got much action in the passing game. Cam Sutton was targeted once, turning it into a four-yard reception.
Forsythe allowed a strip-sack, which was recovered by the Broncos.
Rasheem Green had a pretty good day, notching a sack and a 71.6 PFF pass-rushing grade on first review. He also notched a run stop on a goal-to-go scenario on the Broncos' first drive.
2019 first-round pick Jordyn Brooks had a pretty good day roving the middle of the Seahawks' defense. He totaled 7 tackles, including two run stops, and was the first player to make contact with the runner five times. With K.J. Wright still on the open market, Brooks needs to step up as the linebacker next to Bobby Wagner.
Newly signed Akhello Witherspoon was covering Jeudy on his 35-yard reception. With both 2020 starters departing in the offseason, Witherspoon will likely need to step up as the Seahawks' No. 1 corner.