After one quarter, the grade for the Broncos is the same as what 75,000 fanatics screamed 14 times Sunday at the stadium.
The Broncos are not a complete team — yet.
They do get a passing grade in passing.
However, they definitely have earned an A+ in running and stopping the run.
The Broncos are a "Band On The Run," as Paul McCartney would sing. They put on a ban on the run by four opponents.
In four games the Broncos’ defense has yielded only 203 yards rushing – and just 95 yards to four of the supposed superior running backs in the NFL.
Marshawn Lynch generated 24 yards in 15 carries before the Raiders abandoned the run in the 16-10 defeat.
The week before, even in a loss at Buffalo, the Broncos allowed Sean McCoy a measly 21 yards on 14 rushes (1.5-yard average).
Melvin Gordon had the only field day at night. Ha! He picked up 54 yards in 18 attempts in the opener, and the Los Angeles Nomads, er, Chargers fell on a failed field goal.
Saving the best for second, the Broncos’ front seven – The Magnificent 7 – didn’t permit “”Zkl llt’’ to buy a vowel. "I’ll take an ‘e’, an 'i' and 'o,' Pat." He was an "Oh, No."
The league’s leading rusher of a season ago finished with nine runs for 24 feet. He looked like he had two left feet.
The retooled defensive front, which ranked 28th against the run in 2016, has set a club record in four games – allowing only 50.75 yards per.
That’s a remarkable achievement.
The Broncos’ rushing total of 572 yards, primarily run up by C.J. Anderson and Jamaal Charles, is just as amazing, considering that the Broncos overhauled the offensive line with four new major contributors. The first offensive lineman taken in the draft – Garett Bolles – is playing like "Pro Bowl" Bolles – especially considering that in the second game he was injured, and it seemed as if he would miss the rest of the season. He hasn’t missed a beat or a game, and has been spectacular. Ron Leary, a left guard playing right guard, hasn’t given up a sack even though twice he has been forced out, and spent a week on concussion protocol. Defenses are leery of Leary. Matt Paradis, coming off double-hip surgeries, was somewhat of a question mark for early in the season. He has been forgotten – because he’s again playing at a Pro Bowl level – and his name is never called – because he doesn’t commit penalties or make blocking mistakes.
Max Garcia and Allen Barbre are holding their own (and not defensive rushers) at left guard. Watson Menelik, a free agent who left Oakland, has been the weak link, but improved his play against, of all people, Oakland. Donald Stephenson, who was rated among the worst starting tackles in the NFL last season, comes in when the Broncos add a full-horse line, and Connor McGregor has been a very good backup. Billy Turner can’t get on the active list because of the versatility of the others, and the Broncos are suiting only eight offensive linemen.
Adam Gotsis, the Aussie who played rugby, probably has been the most surprising and effective starting on the defensive line with Derek Wolfe, who has overcome a training camp injury, and nose tackle Domata Peko Sr., who has been a boss knob in the middle.
Von is Von, and the secondary may have gotten stronger with the replacement of T.J. Ward with Justin Simmons at safety. All Simmons has done is make two incredible plays, including the late interception Sunday, that have helped the Broncos get off to a 3-1 start before the bye.
The Broncos did dominate Dallas, but they haven’t been as suave and debonair in the other three.
One touchdown Sunday.
One touchdown the previous Sunday.
The Red Zone hasn’t been an Orange Zone lately.
Trevor Siemian’s sacks and interceptions and lack of success close to the goal is a troublesome area. He’s fine, but still not among the finest.
And Brandon McManus has missed three field goals (equaling the number of all last season).
The Broncos will need some fixes during the bye, but they do have the Giants upcoming at home. And that will be like a second bye. The road looms, though.
Com-Plete must be the grade goal.