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The 2021 NFL season may barely be in the books, but Dave Richard is already getting a jump on his 2022 preparation by highlighting at least one key statistic to know for each NFL team that had a major bearing on their 2021 performance and could mean a great deal for their 2022 outlook. In this space, Dave dives into the Denver Broncos.

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Denver Broncos stats to know

Everyone wants answers on who the best Broncos wide receiver will be in 2022. No one's going to accurately know until, maybe, hopefully, the end of the preseason. 

But it might take well into the season to see how new Broncos coach Nathaniel Hackett and new Broncos quarterback Russell Wilson (that's still weird to read) adapt the offense to one of the league's deepest receiving corps. 

During his introductory press conference, Hackett alluded to a prior era of Broncos football when describing his vision for the passing game. 

"You want to make the defense cover the entire field, and you want to take shots down the field. I mean, let's all face it -- that's what the people in the stands love, they love those bombs down the field. I remember watching John Elway throw the ball downfield to (Ed) McCaffrey on all those boot fakes. ... [Y]ou're always looking for that. Then mixing in the West Coast principle of the dropback game."

That description fits Wilson nicely. Moving around and out of the pocket, by design or by force, is a large part of his game. But he's also been loyal to the deep ball over his past six years.  

Deep pass attempt rates (20-plus yards), per PFF: 

  • 2021: 18.8% (QB2)
  • 2020: 12.8% (QB9)
  • 2019: 16.8% (QB2)
  • 2018: 16.3% (QB3)
  • 2017: 16.5% (QB2) 
  • 2016: 13.5% (QB10)

Interestingly enough, Wilson's pass attempt rates on intermediate throws aren't nearly as plentiful.

Intermediate pass attempt rates (10-19 yards), per PFF: 

  • 2021: 15% (QB34)
  • 2020: 18.1% (QB32)
  • 2019: 22.4% (QB18)
  • 2018: 18.3% (QB30)
  • 2017: 20.3% (QB28) 
  • 2016: 19.3% (QB23)

The hunch is that the Broncos won't have a problem with Wilson's tendency to let it rip, and that's because they have FOUR receivers -- Courtland Sutton, Jerry Jeudy, Tim Patrick and KJ Hamler -- who are more than capable of reeling in deep lobs. 

The track record of these players, particularly over the past two seasons, suggests Sutton and Patrick have a discernible edge in getting those deep shots from Wilson. 

Percentage of targets based on pass depth, per PFF:


  • 20-plus yards: Sutton 30.5%; Patrick 20.5%; Jeudy 13%; Hamler 60%*
  • 10-19 yards: Patrick 31.3%; Jeudy 27.8%; Sutton 26.3%; Hamler 10%*
  • 0-9 yards: Jeudy 50%; Patrick 48.2%; Sutton 41.1%; Hamler 30%*
  • * - limited to three games because of injury


  • 20-plus yards: Patrick 28.4%; Jeudy 27.3%; Hamler 13%; Sutton 50%*
  • 10-19 yards: Jeudy 40%; Hamler 25.9%; Patrick 20.3%; Sutton 33.3%*
  • 0-9 yards: Hamler 59.3%; Patrick 43.2%; Jeudy 28.2%; Sutton 0%*
  • * - limited to one game because of injury

One big factor that remains to be determined: How the new Broncos coaching staff views these receivers. Just because Jeudy's seen a majority of his snaps in the slot and Sutton and Patrick have lined up out wide doesn't mean they'll remain there. If Hackett is as "maneuverable and adjustable" as he says he is, then it won't take much creativity to get them all moving. Expect this to come down to how Hackett deploys his receivers, and who Wilson is most comfortable with.