After Rough Start, Broncos Earn First Win Following Early Moves
Marcus Holmes pulls in a pass from new starting quarterback Todd Jennings
After a busy off-season, the Denver Broncos dropped their first two regular season games due in large part to subpar play from young quarterback Troy McMurray. Despite the clamoring from fans and even some other front offices around the league to bench McMurray, the team wanted to give him an opportunity to lose the starting job. Most of the moves made this off-season were done to give McMurray weapons to make his job as easy as possible. Though the bright spots were few, the wins against Miami and Minnesota last season gave the organization hope that McMurray may have a bright future. Through two games this season however, 0 touchdowns and 4 interceptions pushed the team to make a move.
The team of course pulled both McMurray and veteran Todd Jennings in to discuss the change. Jennings has been supportive of McMurray despite taking a back seat to him last season. The team is not closing the door on a potential return to the field for McMurray in the future. But the pieces around him gave the front office the feeling that this team was better than another bottom five finish and wanted to give themselves the best opportunity to win. As mentioned, the organization thought that it had given McMurray more than enough support for him to succeed. They felt that the success of the team was dependent on his play and had a short leash for him in mind had he not been able to perform. Knowing that they had Jennings sitting behind the young player they were comfortable their contingency plan if necessary.
Players becoming available around the league and the team's poor start sparked their discussions on making the change. Despite drafting SS Jaylin Glenn in the second round of the 2024 NFL Draft, when Frederick Fain was put on the trade block the team was very interested. Fain is one of the better players at his position, and the kind of player the Broncos think could really help the back end of their defense. The plan was to bring Glenn along slowly, and Fain would be a great mentor. Also, since Glenn showed ability to play well in multiple positions, the team is giving him an opportunity at OLB since aside from Evan Walsh the position has been a struggle. The defensive line has played well with the addition of first round pick Oghale Adelangwe and a rotation at defensive tackle. Giving their opponents extra possessions from turnovers and not converting third downs was a big concern and the reason the defense may have struggled later in games.
The Fain trade and starting Jennings were moves that were tied together. After starting 0-2, making a win at some point in the near future move but continuing to start a struggling signal caller would have been counter intuitive. It was the team's General Manager mahrowkeen that initially pushed to give McMurray an chance to start last season, and also the person that suggested sitting the young man on the bench. He and player's coach @bingo415 put a post Week 5 leash on McMurray prior to the start of the season. The Head Coach wanted to give his young player more time, but agreed that if the team was going to trade such a high pick for Fain, then giving the veteran Jennings the reigns again was the right move. Coach @bingo415 was very excited with the idea of adding such a big time talent in Fain and really pushed the front office to find a way once the idea was presented.
Rookie runningback Amral Brown powers through a Rams would be tackler
The aggressive move to trade back into the first round for runningback Amral Brown was with the idea that he and McMurray would provide a dynamic running game behind one of the best offensive lines in the game. Even without McMurray, Brown continued the great start to his young career. There was some worry that the threat of McMurray being taken out of the equation may cause his production to suffer some. But Brown scored for the third game in a row and is averaging just under five yards per carry, totaling 278 yards on the ground. Off-season addition Marcus Holmes was the first Bronco to catch a touchdown, and led the team with 75 receiving yards. Holmes and Jennings connected for the game winning score with just 34 seconds left on the clock. Though Jennings was upset the team traded Darren Jones last season, he and his replacement Aaron Thibodeaux connected five times for 55 yards. Jennings and Thibodeaux may connect more and more since Jennings does like to target the tight end. Might be worth a waiver wire pick for your fantasy team.
Its just one game, but there are some positives that the changes seem to be showing already. Less time on the field for the defense seems to be keeping the pass rush fresh as the team was able to bring Darrell Murphy down three times. The team acquired Tom Wyman just before the start of the regular season, and he showed up against the Rams. Wyman was able to pick off a Murphy pass and knock down another. The defense as a whole made it tough on Murphy to find the open man and harassed him. Darius Green was able to knock the ball out of Murphy's hands on a drop back, and Jordan Westbrook knocked down two passes as well. Bringing in Fain seemed to really help the rest of the defense perform better, as the Rams generally have one of the better passing attacks.
There is still a lot of season left and it was nice to see the team get a win in their home opener. The Broncos follow up their win with a bye week which should allow the team to get comfortable and acquainted with their new look on both sides of the ball. Week 5 will see the 1-2 Seattle Seahawks come to Denver, and the Broncos will be looking to continue their winning ways.