Who's the Guy?… Russell Wilson
Just because the nine-time Pro Bowler has not found his groove operating Nathaniel Hackett's offense does not mean that his game is in decline. Wilson remains a top 5 talent with a combination of arm talent and playmaking skills that makes him dangerous inside and outside of the pocket. If the all-star passer can get on the same page with his talented cast of pass catchers, the Broncos offense could produce fireworks on Sunday.
Don't Sleep On… Randy Gregory
The energetic pass rusher is a disruptor at the point of attack with a relentless playing style that wears down opponents. Gregory outworks and outlasts blockers on the edges to produce sacks, tackles for loss and splash plays on hustle and desire. If the Raiders' frontline fails to match his energy, the Broncos' new pass rusher could take over the game as an Energizer Bunny at the point of attack.
Know His Name… Bradley Chubb
The one-time Pro Bowler has returned to form after injuries limited his impact since a dominant rookie season. Chubb has flashed the trademark first-step quickness and power while hitting blockers with a combination of moves that overwhelms them at the point of attack. With the all-star pass rusher imposing his will on opponents from the edges, the Broncos defense has been able to generate consistent pressure with or without the blitz.
Under Pressure: Nathaniel Hackett
The talking heads have taken the rookie head coach to task for his game management skills. Hackett has botched a few game-deciding calls and struggled with getting his calls in before the play clock expires. With the critics also taking shots at the first-time head coach for his inability to help Wilson find his groove as a passer, the pressure is mounting on Hackett to get the Broncos offense up and running this week.
Numbers Game: 13.5
The Broncos averaged 13.5 points per game in two wins in 2022. That is the fewest points per game average in wins this season.
Despite questions regarding Hackett's game management skills and coaching blunders, the veteran offensive assistant is well-regarded for his ability to build a creative, quarterback-friendly offense. With Wilson in the fold, the Broncos are attempting to feature a traditional West Coast offense that utilizes a mix of dropbacks, movement passes and bootlegs. The combination of quick-rhythm passes with a downhill running game that features a dangerous 1-2 combination at running back (Melvin Gordon and Javonte Williams) enables the Broncos to control the clock with a multi-faceted attack that keeps defenders guessing at all times.
The Broncos have a Super Bowl-caliber defense in place with a handful of five-star playmakers all over the field. Chubb and Gregory are dynamic pass rushers capable of taking over games with their size, speed and skill. The Broncos secondary features an elite cover corner (Patrick Surtain II) with exceptional ball skills and awareness. Defensive coordinator Ejiro Evero takes advantage of his premier playmakers' talents by deploying a two-high, zone-based scheme that enables his defenders to keep their eyes on the quarterback to shut down passing lanes. In addition, the zone-based scheme puts second-level defenders in a perfect position to run the ball on running plays.
Matchup to Watch: Patrick Surtain II vs. Davante Adams
If the Broncos decide to "travel" their top corner, Surtain would likely align opposite No.17 to attempt to neutralize the All-Pro wideout. The second-year pro displays an outstanding combination of instincts, athleticism and awareness on the island. And it is a fearless competitor with the "dawg" mentality needed to challenge an elite talent on the perimeter.
Head inside Intermountain Healthcare Performance Center to view the best photos from the Silver and Black's Thursday practice.