DEN-TB grades: Broncos QB Paxton Lynch solid in NFL debut

Highest-graded players and top takeaways from the Broncos' Week 4 road win over the Buccaneers.

| 9 months ago
(Brian Blanco/Getty Images)

(Brian Blanco/Getty Images)

DEN-TB grades: Broncos QB Paxton Lynch solid in NFL debut

Denver Broncos 27, Tampa Bay Buccaneers 7

Here are the highest-graded players and biggest storylines from Denver’s Week 4 road win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Denver Broncos

Quarterback Grade: Paxton Lynch, 65.1

Rookie Paxton Lynch replaces injured Siemian

First-round pick Paxton Lynch was forced into duty in the second quarter after Trevor Siemian was carted off the field with an apparent non-serious left shoulder injury. Lynch fared pretty well, and the Broncos did not hold back the game plan, firing passes to all levels. Lynch showed off his strong arm by dominating the intermediate level of the field, going 8-for-10 for 134 yards and a TD on throws between 10-19 yards in the air. Lynch had his share of misses, but the offense has some intriguing possibilities for big plays with him at the helm.

Paxton Lynch passing under pressure versus Buccaneers

Paxton Lynch versus pressure

Top offensive grades:

FB Andy Janovich, 88.2

RT Ty Sambrailo, 79.6

WR Emmanuel Sanders, 79.4

LT Russell Okung, 78.7

C Matt Paradis,  77.2

Broncos take care of the ball, do enough to win

The Broncos’ offense did what it needed to do to win: it took care of the ball, made timely plays in the passing game, and had fairly solid O-line production throughout the evening. Ty Sambrailo stepped up for the injured Donald Stephenson and posted a team-high 82.5 pass-blocking grade. Paxton Lynch relied heavily on Emmanuel Sanders and Demaryius Thomas (71.2 grade), who combined for 182 of the 238 passing yards. The typically-effective running game struggled to get into a rhythm, as C.J Anderson was held to 48 yards on 18 carries for an average of 2.7 yards per carry.

Top defensive grades

CB Aqib Talib, 92.5

CB Chris Harris Jr, 84.2

LB Shaquille Barrett, 82.7

LB Von Miller, 79.2

DE Derek Wolfe, 78.6

Defensive front, corners shut down Bucs’ passing game

The Broncos’ defensive front got after Winston early, making him look uncomfortable all game with constant pressure. The NFL’s best pass-rush filled the stat sheet, totaling five sacks, six QB hits, and 14 pressures. Aqib Talib helped set the tone with an early interception, as the Broncos’ secondary suffocated Winston and his receivers throughout the game. Talib’s dominate day saw him end with two picks and a passer rating of 0.0 on throws into his coverage, allowing only one completion for 6 yards. The Broncos’ ability to rush the passer and lock down receivers was yet again the story of the game.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Quarterback grade: Jameis Winston, 43.2

Winston struggles mightily

Jameis Winston looked uncomfortable in the pocket from the beginning of the game, and struggled seeing coverage at times throughout Sunday’s blowout loss. The Broncos’ defensive front got around his feet early, leading him to many forced throws, something we’ve seen often from him throughout his short pro career. The early pressure lead to some indecisiveness even when he was not pressured, with both interceptions coming in clean pockets. Credit the Broncos’ defense with another stellar performance, but you would like to see the former No. 1 pick show the ability to throw his team back into games.

Jameis Winston passing under pressure versus 

Jameis Winston passing under pressure

Top offensive grades

LG Kevin Pamphile, 75.2

WR Mike Evans, 73.3

RT Demar Dotson, 71.7

FB Alan Cross, 70.2

WR Vincent Jackson, 68.2

Buccaneers’ offense non-existent

The Bucs’ offense struggled to find any success, gaining just 215 yards of total offense. Turnovers were the story Tampa Bay, with the combination of poor pass protection and Winston holding the ball (unable to find receivers) leading to the Bucs surrendering five sacks, 13 QB hurries, and numerous forced throws into coverage. The offense was dominated in every facet, and was just five for 16 on third downs. Tackle Donovan Smith struggle with edge rushers throughout, posting a team-low 41.5 pass-blocking grade.

Top defensive grades:

DT Clinton McDonald, 77.3

CB Jude Adjei-Barimah, 75.2

DT Gerald McCoy, 74.0

CB Brent Grimes, 72.3

CB Vernon Hargreaves III, 72.2

Defense can’t slow down Lynch-led passing offense

The lack of complementary football did not help the Bucs’ defense on Sunday, as the unit needed to play a perfect game to have a chance to stay in the contest. Tampa Bay failed to force a turnover, and allowed Lynch too many intermediate-level throws on scoring drives. Five of the Buccaneers’ seven defenders responsible in pass coverage allowed a passer rating of over 100.0 when targeted.

PFF Game-Ball Winner: Broncos CB Aqib Talib

PFF’s player grading process includes multiple reviews, which may change the grade initially published in order to increase its accuracy. Learn more about how we grade and access grades for every player through each week of the NFL season by subscribing to Player Grades.

| Analyst

Zac Robinson is a former three-year starting QB for Oklahoma State. He was drafted by the New England Patriots in the seventh round in 2010, and spent time with the Seattle Seahawks and Detroit Lions before finishing his pro career with the Cincinnati Bengals.

  • David Japhet-Mathias

    Why is D.T’s grade so low? Was he completely covered all game or what?

    • Moralltach

      71 isn’t bad. He caught 6 of 7 for 94 and a TD, so the difference between him and Sanders (79 grade) probably comes down to forcing missed tackles or something relatively minor.

      • anon76returns

        71 is approximately below average, though there’s some strange snap weighting that goes on in PFF’s conversion from ± grades to the 0-100 score. Getting a below average grade is somewhat strange for a guy that was one of PFF’s top graded receivers in each of the 2012-2014 seasons, making their top 101 list each year. What isn’t he doing now to “just” be average/slightly below average, when he’s catching nearly 80% of balls thrown his way AND averaging nearly 16 yards/catch?

        • Elias Woolfolk

          Thank you guys for clarifying what average is. I look at the numbers and I thought Paxton and von should of been higher until I saw this.

          • Yahhhmon

            To me, seemed like Von’s first average game of the season. Hardly noticed him. Wolfe may have benefitted from Von’s play though. He was beastly.

        • Moralltach

          Couldn’t tell you without a subscription to the advanced stats. Maybe he’s not blocking well on run plays, maybe he’s not getting open as much as he used to, stuff like that. The PFF grades take into account every snap, even the ones where it seems like he’s not involved.

        • AJ

          It’s not about cumulative totals. It’s about play-by-play grading. Looking just at the final totals can me very misleading.

          I often say that it’s not the stats that are misleading, but it’s our interpretation of them which is misleading.

          • crosseyedlemon

            “I often say that it’s not the stats that are misleading, but it’s our interpretation of them which is misleading.”……or as Donald Trump would say “You have your facts and I have my facts – but your facts are bull****!”

          • Yahhhmon

            True, yet our eyes tell us a lot too. Grades seem low for DT and Sanders and high for Janovich and Sambrailo.

        • Thomas Bell

          Sanders had 8 receptions on 12 targets, vs. DT only had one pass thrown his way that he didn’t turn into a reception. Yet Sanders scores 8 points higher. I suppose DT could have missed some blocks, but I don’t believe he had a drop or a penalty. Again, puzzling. PFF has every right to charge a premium for the value they created. But the new scoring system leaves more questions than it answers. Sambrailo — to my eyes — seemed to be on the wrong end of sacks/pressures and runs for no gain, and was even mentioned in a couple of articles I read this morning….yet here he is the highest graded lineman on the team. I wonder many fans and analysts who watched the game would be surprised to read that.

          • Yahmule

            Sambrailo was brutal yesterday. The Broncos need Stephenson back badly.

      • David Japhet-Mathias

        Going 6/7 for 94 yards and an TD should at least get you an 80 unless you fumble or get a load of penalties.

  • crosseyedlemon

    The Broncos do all the little things so well that opponents really can’t afford to make any mistakes.

  • Wackanhut

    Lynch looked interesting. I like Trevor, but I think the Broncos have
    got to have a good look at Lynch. He looked impressive last night.


    Ty was the best o lineman for the Broncos? I dont think so. He got beat consistently and gave up at least 1 sack and had a series where he was beat badly on 2 consecutive plays.

    • Yahhhmon

      I thought that too. He looked below average to me.