Offense — D
The offense did some good things, particularly early in the game after a three-and-out to start. But the Broncos still had as many turnovers (three) as they did scores. They went 1-of-3 in the red zone. They had touchdowns wiped off the board on the two field goal drives by penalties on Brandon Johnson — iffy ones, but penalties nonetheless. They had two first downs running the ball well into the fourth quarter. They crested 300-plus yards, but that wasn’t nearly enough on this day. Denver will look at the film and see some positives — Can Marvin Mims, Jr. be a featured player in this offense yet? — and plenty of corrections to be made. But all of that likely would have been academic after the opening minutes in South Florida anyway.
Defense — F
If F- existed, that would be the grade. The Dolphins scored 10 touchdowns. Tua Tagovailoa completed his first 17 passes. The Dolphins only broke away from slicing and dicing Denver’s secondary to run roughshod on the ground. The Broncos’ tackling — a focus of the week, according to Sean Payton — only got exposed more against Miami’s talented skill players. The outlook only got dimmer for a group that’s gone from giving up 16 to 35 to 70 as the competition has improved over the first three weeks of the season. Chicago and the New York Jets the next two weeks aren’t very good, but then three of the next four are against Kansas City and Buffalo. Buckle up, Vance Joseph. This could get worse — well, actually it’d be hard to be worse — before it gets better.
Special teams — C
The special teams were… fine. It didn’t much matter in the sense that Miami had Denver outclassed and outmanned from the time Wil Lutz uncorked the opening kickoff. Maybe Payton should have tried an onside kick to steal a possession? Mims took a kick return back 99 yards for a touchdown… to make it 63-20 in the fourth quarter. He’s a player to build around going forward even if it goes down as one of the least impactful return scores you’ll ever see. Elsewhere, Lutz made his kicks, Riley Dixon’s punting was fine and Miami punter Jake Bailey could have gone to the beach or the Marlins game instead of showing up for work.
Coaching — F
There’s not really another grade to give when a team gives up 70 points. For a little while, it was easy to wonder about the butterfly effect had Payton reviewed an early Courtland Sutton incompletion up the sideline. Before long, though, it became clear nothing would have changed the outcome of this game. This project might well be bigger than even what Payton expected when he got hired. Or maybe he knew all along and the offseason bluster was an attempt to get his team to believe it was something other than this. Regardless, the Broncos’ problems go well beyond tackling or pass protection. The challenge now is going to be whether Payton can keep his message resonating in a locker room that hoped his arrival would mark the start of change. Instead, the group looks lost after just three games.