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Mile High Morning: Analyzing the Broncos' top performers in #DENvsNYJ, as rated by Pro Football Focus


The Lead

As the Broncos got their first win of the season on Thursday against the Jets, they saw some encouraging signs across the roster. Before turning the page to Week 5, let's look back on some of the team's top performers, as rated by Pro Football Focus.

T-10. NT Mike Purcell and CB Bryce Callahan: 71.8

Purcell has continued his solid play after being inserted into the starting lineup a year ago. In Week 4, he was Denver's third-best run defender (behind Callahan and Kareem Jackson, respectively). Purcell recorded five tackles, including a tackle for loss, against New York. Callahan, meanwhile, had seven tackles and broke up one pass. He also pressured Sam Darnold into an incomplete pass on a pass-rush opportunity. That then set up a Bradley Chubb sack on third down to help hold the Jets to a field goal.

9. WR Jerry Jeudy: 71.9

Jeudy may have only had two catches, but he made them count. His first was a stunning 48-yard catch over a defender for a touchdown, the first of his career, and then he added a 13-yard catch to help push along a scoring drive. Jeudy now leads the Broncos in receiving yards through four games. I don't want to jinx anything, but Jeudy is on pace to challenge Eddie Royal's rookie receiving yardage record for the Broncos.

8. S Justin Simmons: 73.5

After a tough game against the Buccaneers, Simmons bounced back on Thursday, even if he didn't have a spectacular play against the Jets. But according to PFF, Simmons had one QB hurry and allowed just one reception for 3 yards. Through four games, Simmons rates as the team's fourth-best defender (among players who have played at least three games).

7. CB De'Vante Bausby: 75.7

With Head Coach Vic Fangio opting to move Callahan to the slot, Bausby got a chance to play significant snaps as an outside cornerback. He had as many passes defensed as tackles against the Jets (three), including one pass breakup that prevented a touchdown. When targeted on Thursday, Bausby allowed just a 61.8 passer rating, according to PFF.

6. ILB Alexander Johnson: 78.1

Johnson provided help across the board defensively; PFF rated him as above average in run defense, tackling, pass rushing and coverage. Though he'd surely like to have back his near-sack of Darnold that turned into a 46-yard touchdown, Johnson still had a sack and a quarterback hit. His pass-rush in the fourth quarter caused Darnold to stumble, leading to Chubb's sack, too.

5. T Garett Bolles: 82.2

Bolles continued his run of impressive play with a fourth consecutive game earning a rating above 70.0 from PFF. This was his best grade yet, as he earned a pass-blocking rating of 88.4 while helping Brett Rypien avoid any sacks. PFF also credited Bolles with zero pressures allowed and no penalties. To date, he is the Broncos' top-rated player by PFF this season.

4. DE Shelby Harris: 85.2

Denver's top rated defensive player through four games helped maintain that status with another great game, combining solid run defense with disruptive play as a pass rusher. He had four QB hurries, per PFF, including two quarterback hits. After adding half a sack on Thursday, Harris is now tied with Chubb atop the team's sack leaderboard.

3. WR Tim Patrick: 86.9

To outsiders, Patrick may be largely unknown, but fans have seen him progress to his current status as a reliable and top receiver for the Broncos with Courtland Sutton out. Patrick is now leading the team's wide receivers in receptions and touchdowns after his first career 100-yard game. Aided by his toe-tapping touchdown catch on Thursday, Patrick rated as the team's top offensive player against the Jets.

2. OLB Bradley Chubb: 89.8

Through three games, Chubb appeared to be in a slow return from his torn ACL suffered a year ago. But he broke through on Thursday and recorded 2.5 sacks, putting him in a tie for the team's season lead with Harris. Chubb was a force on Thursday and delivered a crucial sack on fourth down late in the fourth quarter, which turned into a game-clinching touchdown by Melvin Gordon III.

1. ILB Josey Jewell: 91.0

But no one had as game as great as Jewell, who was the team's leading tackler. He had 10 tackles, two sacks, two tackles for loss, two quarterback hits and one pass defensed. One sack ended a third-quarter drive that had pushed into Denver territory when New York was down just eight points. He also held Jets QBs to a passer rating of 59.0 when he was targeted, according to PFF.

Below the Fold

In Ryan O'Halloran's analysis of the Broncos' first four games, notes that one thing that has been going well for Denver is the team's ability to pick up yards in chunks. "The Broncos have 17 plays of at least 20 yards, which ranks fourth in the NFL entering Sunday's games," O'Halloran writes in The Denver Post.

With the team's recent rash of injuries along the defensive line — the most notable being that of Jurrell Casey — Denver signed two former Broncos to the practice squad: Sylvester Williams and Darius Kilgo. Williams was the Broncos' first round pick in the 2013 NFL Draft, and Kilgo played 18 games for Denver from 2015-16.

The Unclassifieds

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Til’ the final whistle 😤 #broncoscountry

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