The 2022 Denver Broncos couldn’t have gotten off to much worse of a start. After head coach Nathaniel Hackett exhibited some of the worst late-game decision-making you’ll ever see in a Week 1 loss to the Seattle Seahawks, the Broncos have now lost both wide receiver Jerry Jeudy and cornerback Patrick Surtain II to shoulder injuries in Week 2.
Broncos’ Jerry Jeudy, Patrick Surtain II out with shoulder injuries
It’s never a great sign when players are ruled out quickly after going down, but that’s what happened with both Jeudy and Surtain. We’ll have to wait for more details before assessing if Jeudy and Surtain will be sidelined for an extended period of time, but it’s fair to say a long-term injury to either player would have serious consequences for the Broncos.
Denver already lost wideout Tim Patrick to a torn ACL in training camp, making Jeudy all the more important for Russell Wilson. The Broncos’ leading receiver in Week 1, Jeudy posted a 4-112-1 line in the loss to Seattle. A first-round pick in 2020, Jeudy missed half of the 2021 campaign after suffering a high-ankle sprain in Week 1.
If Jeudy will be out for a while, the Broncos could be in trouble at receiver. Courtland Sutton is Denver’s No. 1, but KJ Hamler — who played in Week 1 but is still recovering from a torn ACL — was inactive against Houston. Backups like Tyrie Cleveland and Montrell Washington could play larger roles, and the Broncos could also lean further into 12 personnel.
On defense, the potential loss of Surtain may be even more devastating. The ninth overall pick in 2021, Surtain quickly developed into Denver’s CB1 in his rookie campaign. He picked off four passes last season and looked like one of the league’s best defensive backs.
Denver arguably has less depth at corner than they do at wide receiver. If Surtain is sidelined for multiple weeks, veteran Darius Phillips or rookie Damarri Mathis would likely step into the starting lineup alongside Ronald Darby and K’Waun Williams.
The Broncos play in the toughest division in the NFL. They have a new head coach and a new quarterback. And, as of this writing, they’re staring at 0-2 with losses to the Seahawks and Texans on their ledger.
Hackett, Wilson, and Co. can’t afford any more losses to start the season, but their schedule doesn’t get any easier. Denver’s next four games are against the 49ers, Raiders, Colts, and Chargers. If they don’t have Jeudy and/or Surtain, every one of those matchups will be a struggle.