Your Miami Dolphins are 2-0 and play host to the visiting winless Denver Broncos, who will be traveling from cool, crisp Colorado to a hot and humid Miami. Denver, who nearly made a miraculous comeback after blowing a huge lead to the Washington Commanders last weekend are searching for their first win, and here's a preview of what Denver will bring to the table on Sunday in this early-season intraconference matchup.
The 2023 Denver Broncos
After trading a king's ransom to Seattle for quarterback Russell Wilson and hiring Green Bay play-caller Nathaniel Hackett in 2022, the Broncos were poised to contend last season. Instead, the Broncos trotted out the most dysfunctional, discombobulated, and disappointing team in the league. Could you blame Hackett? Yes. Could you blame Russ? Yes. Could you blame injuries? Sure. But could you blame the defense? Absolutely not. Denver ended up finishing 5-12 and weren't even able to use their fifth overall pick, as they traded it to Seattle for Wilson.
Coming into 2023, the Broncos fired Nathaniel Hackett and brought in legendary head coach Sean Payton to right the sinking ship and fix Russell Wilson and the Denver offense after a dreadful 2022. Fast forward to today and the Broncos are 0-2. In week one, the Denver defense showed up per usual, but the offense struggled to score points. Last week, the offense put up a lot of points in the first half but went AWOL for the last thirty minutes. Adding insult to injury, the Denver defense allowed 35 points to Sam Howell and the Washington Commanders.
QB Russell Wilson
A Super Bowl champion and formerly one of the best quarterbacks in the league, Russell Wilson has certainly lost his shine since being traded to Denver. We all assume he didn't just lose his natural talent to the Monstars, but we don't really know why he can't use it in Denver. To Wilson's credit, the first six quarters of 2023 were pretty good. Although Denver only scored 16 points in week one, Wilson was efficient all the way up until halftime last week.
He's not lacking weapons, as Denver has one of the better receiving corps in the league. He has the Super Bowl-winning head coach. He has the ability. Wilson simply just isn't putting it together.
Mr. Unlimited now travels to Miami, where the temperature will be in the upper 80's to go along with some intense humidity. Hard Rock Stadium is not built for the away team and Wilson, who's acclimated to the cooler, dryer air of the Western states, may have a major disadvantage.
Denver's arsenal includes a young, impressive group of wide receivers which could end up one of the best groups in the league sooner than later. The receivers include Courtland Sutton, Jerry Jeudy, and rookie Marvin Mims. If the Denver offensive line holds up and Wilson doesn't lose his mind, the Broncos present a formidable threat to Miami's defense. Mims, the rookie out of Oklahoma, is a deep play threat and leads Denver in receiving on the young season with 4 receptions for 122 yards and a touchdown.
The Denver ground game, however, is a different story. Through two full weeks, Denver still doesn't have a 100-yard rusher on the season. Leading rusher Javonte Williams has only mustered 96 yards on 25 carries on the year. The second-leading rusher for Denver this season is actually Russell Wilson with 57 yards. They've struggled to get the run game going, which may spell trouble for Denver if their pass protection doesn't hold up against the Miami pass rush.
The Denver Defense
The unit that carried the Broncos on their back last season was their defense, which was scary good. Denver only allowed 17 to the Las Vegas Raiders in week one, but still lost the game, which is all too common with this team. However, last week after allowing only 14 points in the first half, Denver allowed the Commanders to score 21 straight points and the Broncos ended up losing 35-33.
Headlined by star safety Justin Simmons, who notched 10 tackles last week, and cornerback Pat Surtain II, the Denver defense is a great unit. Denver can get after the passer, they can stuff the run and they can play sticky defense in the secondary. The unit only allowed 21 points per game last season, even with their offense constantly punting, turning the ball over, and generally just not scoring points.
The bottom line
The fact of that matter is no matter how good the Broncos defense pays, this team goes as Russell Wilson goes. If Sean Payton is able to get Wilson back to normal and get his weapons involved, the Broncos can be a threat. However, Wilson just may be past his prime, no longer in the system that allowed him to thrive in Seattle, which included a heavy dose of an effective run game.
On the other side of the ball, the Broncos will need to keep Tua and the Dolphins' receivers in check to even give Russ a chance to win the game. So far this season, the Dolphins don't look like they're slowing down and the Denver defense looks like it's taking a step back from last season. If Denver's defense contains Miami and gives Wilson some opportunities, then the Broncos have a chance. If it ends up in a shootout, I don't think Denver has a chance.