Much like the 0-3 Raiders, who are struggling to turn potential into reality, the Broncos are trying to match results with expectations.
The difference is the Broncos are 2-1 despite their offensive struggles entering Sunday’s game between the AFC West rivals at Allegiant Stadium.
In the Broncos’ case, adding former Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson was supposed to be the missing piece that put an otherwise Super Bowl-caliber team over the top. But Denver isn’t winning because of its offense, which is averaging 14.3 points per game, the second-fewest in the NFL. The Broncos are 1-for-7 in the red zone.
Ever the optimist, Wilson doesn’t see a problem as much as he sees an offense that is inches from being prolific.
“The great part is that we have the work ethic, we have the focus,” Wilson said. “We’re excited, because with our defense, how elite they’re playing … I can’t wait for when we turn it around and how great it’s going to be because we could be really unstoppable.”
Wilson, who has thrown just two touchdown passes and rushed for 22 yards, is convinced the best is yet to come and that the Broncos will settle into being the team many expected.
“You just take it one day at a time and one moment at a time,” he said. “You don’t look at the whole end journey, you just look at the moment right now, the next play. … When that happens and we’re able to continually do that, it gives us a better chance to be successful.”
In the meantime, the Broncos can lean on a star-laden defense that is allowing 12.1 points per game, the second-fewest in the NFL. Shouldering the bulk of that load are star cornerback Patrick Surtain and rush ends Bradley Chubb and Randy Gregory.
Their play — specifically that of Chubb and Gregory — has caught the eye of Raiders quarterback Derek Carr. Gregory has seven tackles, two sacks, five quarterback hits, two forced fumbles and two tackles for loss. Chubb has seven tackles, three for a loss, three sacks, five quarterback hits and a forced fumble after an injury-marred 2021 season in which he didn’t have a sack.
“Those guys are awesome,” he said. “And it’s not just those guys. The guys inside are great players. We have our work cut out for us at all three levels of the defense. They’re very physical, they’re a top defense.”
The Raiders have won four straight in the series.