2022 Week 10 Game Recap: Titans 17, Broncos 10 (by Ross Jacobs)
I don't think it's possible for the Broncos to have an interesting game at this point. They are just so bad on offense and so good on defense that every game is a drudge, especially when they are playing a run first, defensive team like the Titans.
Not surprising at all, this game started out very slow, almost no offense, neither team could move the ball. Then out of nowhere the Broncos hit a long TD on a broken play followed by a field goal and suddenly they led 10-0. It was the last time they would score. In the second half the Titans just slowly took control, got a few good drives, scored once then followed it up with a nifty flea flicker trick pass for a long TD and that was enough to secure the win. Denver tried one final drive in the last minute but Russell Wilson was under too much pressure and threw an interception at the goal line to seal the game.
Denver has the worst offense in the league, in my opinion, and it's really not close. They are dead last in ppg at 14.6 behind even the awful Steelers, Colts, Rams, and Texans. If they had scored just 18 points in regulation in every single game this year they would currently be 8-1. Think about that. The defense has only allowed one team to score more than 18 points in regulation all year. Every other game they have given up 17 or less. You know how many teams average higher than 18 ppg? 27. Only the 5 teams mentioned above score less. That's all it would take for Denver to have a competitive team and they can't even manage that.
I've said my piece on the cause of the offensive dysfunction. I 100% believe that Russ is not the primary reason for their struggles. If they didn't have Russ right now they might be averaging less than 10 ppg honestly. The wide receivers are awful and got even worse when Jerry Jeudy got hurt on the very first play from scrimmage. And the offensive line was already one of the worst in the league and they sustained two more injuries here as well. Tennessee had 18(!) quarterback hits here, 6 sacks, and 9 TFLs. Russ was hit on half of his dropbacks. He was under pressure at a significantly higher percentage. No QB is going to perform well under these conditions. It's the same problem he faced in Seattle except somehow even worse.
Over his first 10 seasons in the NFL, Wilson has averaged 42.7 sacks per year. Over that same time frame no QB has been sacked more. The next most sacked QB in that time has 61 fewer sacks than Wilson. His single highest season total was 51 total sacks in 2018. This season he's on pace to take over 61...Now clearly some of that is because Russ likes to run around and extend plays. That's the price of being a mobile QB. But a lot of that is the offensive lines he's had to deal with, and that is more true than ever this year.
I know nobody really cares about the cause of Denver's struggles like I do, most people will be happy to sit around and blame Wilson in happy ignorance, but the reason I keep bringing these issues up is because circumstances can change...eventually. It's not changing this year clearly. This Denver offense is toast and getting worse by the week. But I want to really understand what's going on here because if Denver management can somehow address these issues for 2023 we might actually see a revival here and there will be value in that while everyone else avoids the situation because they think it's doomed from the start. The Broncos have a lot of issues to fix for next year but they are fixable.
In other news I don't expect Nathaniel Hackett to last much longer as head coach. This team is getting rocked and the schedule is not coming to save them. I think they win 2-3 more games tops and that's purely because their defense is so good.
I've spilled a lot of ink on the Broncos, but what about the Titans? RC is on board with the Titans as the lone threat to the Chiefs...I can't get behind that just yet, no matter how much I appreciate this coaching staff. Make no mistake, I think this is arguably the best coached team in the entire league. Mike Vrabel is just so impressive with how he manages to keep this team together and fight through all the injuries they take every year. They just find a way to compete and win.
That said...some of their success this year has come on the back of a very weak schedule. Credit to them for finding the wins, especially with so many injuries, but here's a list of the teams they've beaten...you tell me how impressive this is...Raiders by 2, Colts by 7, Commanders by 4, Colts by 9, Texans by 7, Broncos by 7. Yes, they played a very good game against the Chiefs and had chances to win it, but I'm not sure they can pull that off every week. It's a tough team, a disciplined team...I'm just not convinced they are actually one of the best. More like a solid team you don't want to play...not a real Superbowl threat.
One thing some people have latched onto is their “rising” defense, and I do want to give them credit for all the injuries they have overcome, but I'm sorry, beating a bunch of bottom 5-8 offenses isn't impressive. Their lone impressive game was the KC game. That's something but not a pattern. All the pressures they got on Denver here was much more because Denver's line is in shambles than anything amazing the Titans were doing. It's a very, very solid defense but not elite in my opinion, and their offense is below average. In my head that means they are a fringe top 10-12 team but nothing more.
My best guess is Tennessee finishes around 10-11 wins or so and easily wins the division again. They'll be the #3 or #4 seed in the AFC, maybe pull an upset game and then get bounced by one of the better teams. I love what Vrabel and Jon Robinson are doing with this team overall but they need a talent infusion to take them to the next level...or to develop Malik Willis.
Of course, maybe I'm wrong and RC is right. Maybe they are better than I give them credit for. We'll see.
*RC NOTE: What the Titans have done on defense this season with arguably the worst bout of defensive injuries in the league all season – is stunning. The Titans are a Super Bowl threat IF they get all their key defensive players back healthy for the stretch run.
They are about to get their secondary back intact for the first time this season in Week 11…Kristain Fulton and Elijah Molden finally on the field for the first time in 2022 together…just missing Amani Hooker, who might be back too.
Fantasy Player Notes:
– I'm not going over most things on Denver again. This offense is dead and dying. The only three things I'll say are: Melvin Gordon started this game but was yanked after nearly fumbling again, Latavius Murray then came in and was twice the runner Gordon was...until halftime when Gordon was then inserted back as the lone back and didn't do jack with it. Hackett is a complete idiot and a coward for continuing to give into Gordon and his whining. Murray is clearly the superior back but won't be given the workhorse role because of the “legend of Melvin Gordon.” Just one more reason this team is going down the tubes. If Vrabel was coach of the Broncos, he would have not only pulled Gordon but cut him weeks ago for this crap.
– And my second note on the Broncos is about Greg Dulcich. He had a down game here because Wilson was under such heavy fire. He just missed on a 40-50 yard bomb inches out of his reach. Dulcich actually looks pretty good and seems to be getting better and more comfortable by the week. The offense sucks overall but he's getting decent targeting, as good as any TE in football not named Kelce, so don't shy away from starting him if you've got him. I like what I see from Dulcich more than most right now.
– Finally, when Jeudy went down it was Kendall Hinton that was the primary receiver for Russ other than Sutton. Doubt it means much but that's who is next up, not Jalen Virgil (who simply got a busted play TD) or Montrell Washington. You can't trust any of these guys with as much pressure as Wilson is under.
– Ok, Tennessee...Nick Westbrook-Ikhine had a monster game out of nowhere but please don't chase this. It's nothing. Half his stats came on a couple of short catches, nothing special, and the other half his yards and one TD came on the flea flicker play where he was lost in coverage. This is just one of those weird weeks, not a coming out event. He's the de facto top receiver at the moment but won't be for long now that Treylon Burks is healthy.
Speaking of Burks...he looked fine here. He only played about 50% of the snaps as they get him worked back into the rotation but that should go up as we go along. They are mostly using him on underneath stuff right now, presumably because he's still learning the finer points of route running (the biggest knock on him coming out) so not a lot of chances for big numbers yet. I don't know if he'll ever take off or not. I believe he will because I know what kind of athlete he is and what he can do with the ball, but he's still got some developing to do and he's behind because of all the injuries he's already sustained. It's never good for a young receiver to lose so much time. If any coach can get the best out of him though it's Vrabel. Still, this is a low volume passing game and it may not get much better when/if Willis ever takes over. Hard to know what to do with him moving forward, but we'll keep watching to see if things start coming together for him. I suspect they will eventually...
– My final note is on rookie TE Chigoziem Okonkwo...RC noted the past few weeks that he looks fantastic and should be getting more touches...and he did it again here with a long catch and run for about 40 yards, his lone touch of the day. Every time this guy gets the ball good things happen. I'm inclined to trust Vrabel if he's not ready to get Okonkwo more involved but I know what I see with my eyes and Okonkwo is one of the only explosive playmakers on a team in need of explosive playmakers. He's the future at TE for this team...I just don't know if that's the end of 2022 or next year.
– It's Josey Jewell, it's always Josey Jewell. 9 tackles again. He's had at least 9 in every healthy game he's played over 50% of the snaps. I'm not kidding when I say he's one of the best inside linebackers in the league to my eyes right now. He's flying to the ball and destroying whoever has it...even Derrick Henry. Jewell is a big part of why Henry was under 3 ypc here. Jewell hit him so hard one play he literally put 250 lb King Henry on his back. I cannot say enough good things about Jewell. I'm so glad he's finally healthy and having so much success. Just one more of RC's hidden gems coming out of college years ago.
Snap Counts of Interest:
77 = Hinton
74 = Sutton
27 = Cleveland
24 = Virgil
7 = Washington
71 = Dulcich
43 = Gordon
25 = Murray
50 = Woods
48 = Westbrook-Ikhine
35 = Burks
38 = Hooper
33 = Swaim
20 = Okonkwo
36 = Henry
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