Twelve things about the Broncos during their bye week.
1. Entering Week 10, the top eight players in receiving yards are from the NFC. The Broncos’ Courtland Sutton is tied for ninth with Jacksonville’s D.J. Chark at 692. Sutton’s 44 catches are tied for 19th and his four touchdowns tied for 18th.
2. One of the more impressive parts about Sutton’s maturation this year is his ability to draw penalties. He drew only one flag in the first six games, but has drawn seven penalties in the last three games (one declined) for a total of 68 yards.
3. Penalties such as 24 and 22 yards by the Colts’ defense are just as important as the five-yard penalty to give the Broncos a fresh set of downs. “The yards would be nice, but in those situations, getting those yards to get that field position is key,” Sutton said. “Those are game-changing situations where you give the offense another opportunity to go out there and put points on the board.”
4. Entering Week 10, the Broncos are second in red-zone defense — opponents have scored touchdowns on 37.4% of their opportunities. Undefeated San Francisco is first at 31.3%. Cleveland was 1 of 5 last week (three field goals/one touchdown). The Browns ran 16 offensive snaps inside the 20-yard line last Sunday and gained 39 yards.
5. The key to being stingy in the red zone? “Really, those were the same looks we had all week,” said cornerback Davontae Harris, delivering a hat tip to the coaching staff. “Seeing those from the scout team over and over again helped us relate to (the plan) and make plays off what we saw.”
6. Normally, DeMarcus Walker would head home to Jacksonville, Fla., during the bye week. But his intent this time was to rehabilitate his right shoulder injury at the Broncos’ facility. “A lot of people were saying (to go on vacation); I don’t care about that,” Walker said. “I would rather finish the season the way I want to and go into the offseason with no question marks and my goals accomplished. Whatever I could do (during the bye), I can do in the offseason. That’s just my maturity and being responsible.”
7. Walker has been a pleasant surprise for the Broncos’ defensive line. Among his 18 tackles in the first eight games were four sacks (two combined in 2017-18) and three run “stuffs.” He played 100 snaps as a rookie and 21 last year, but is up to 167 this year. The Broncos have a decent situation at defensive end because Walker and rookie Dre’Mont Jones are under contract. They should make Derek Wolfe and Shelby Harris re-signing a priority so they can again two-platoon at end.