Courtland Sutton has been a bright spot for the Broncos’ offense through the first three games, and The Athletic’s Nick Kosmider noted that the wide receiver’s start to the season has been his best so far.
Kosmider explained that Sutton was frequently targeted with deep passes totaling 16 or more air yards in 2021, but he caught less than one-third of them. There were several reasons for this, Kosmider noted, including quarterback inefficiency and continued recovery from ACL surgery, but Sutton has turned his struggles into a great strength this season.
“Whatever the reasons for last season’s struggles on deep passes, there has been an abrupt change in 2022,” Kosmider wrote. “In just the first three games of this season, Sutton has already caught eight passes of 16-plus air yards — three more than any other player in the NFL — on a league-high 11 targets. That’s good for a 72.7 percent catch rate.”
With deep plays creating the foundation, Kosmider noted that Sutton is off to the best start of his career. With 291 yards over the first three weeks, Sutton ranks fifth in the NFL in receiving yards. While he’s still looking for his first touchdown of the season, Sutton’s yardage and reception totals put him on pace to break career marks that he set in 2019.
He has been particularly clutch on third- and fourth-down plays, quickly becoming Russell Wilson’s go-to target when the team needs a big play.
“For third and fourth downs, whenever we get in those situations you want to be the guy that Russell is looking for,” Sutton said after the Broncos’ win over the Texans in Week 2. “I want those opportunities to be able to make those plays. I want to be able to be the guy that he goes to on the big third downs and fourth downs so that we can convert them on the field. I feel like in order to be able to be in that space of an elite wide receiver, you have got to be that guy that can make those big third downs and fourth downs. You want to be that guy for us.”
Sutton’s connection with Wilson continually strengthened throughout training camp, Kosmider explained. As they took more reps together, Wilson began to give Sutton more contested balls downfield.
“He’s got this amazing catching radius that people need to appreciate,” Wilson said. “This guy, anything that you put in his vicinity, he’s going to catch it.”