The first two weeks provide the blueprint for the Broncos to beat the Jets
The Denver Broncos have a 2-0 record after beating a bad Jacksonville Jaguars team in Week 2. This Sunday, they return home to Empower Field at Mile High Stadium to face the New York Jets in Week 3.
The Jets have a young team on both sides of the ball. With a new coaching staff, led by new head coach Robert Saleh, they are going to take some time to be a competitive team. Even though the Broncos should win, the Jets could complicate things in Week 3.
As per usual on Mondays and Tuesdays during the regular season, I have broken down the coach’s film of the Broncos upcoming opponent. Here are three observations from the Jets early season film that could be the keys for a Broncos victory on Sunday.
One Trick Passing Game
The Jets went out in free agency and added arguably the best wide receiver available when they signed former Tennessee Titans receiver Corey Davis. The former first-round pick (2017) never had 1,000-yard season with the Titans, but he was coming off a 2020 season where he set career-best numbers in yards (984), touchdowns (5) and 100-yard games (5). The Jets were happy to reward Davis with a three-year, $37.5 million contract with $27 million guaranteed.
During the first two games of the 2021 season, Davis has been inconsistent with his production – but for a good reason. In Week 1, Davis caught five passes for 97 yards and two touchdowns against the Carolina Panthers. Things changed in Week 2, as the New England Patriots chose to stop Davis and make anyone else beat them (which the Jets did not do). Davis was held to just two catches for eight yards in Week 2.
If the Broncos take the same approach the Patriots did, then Davis may be held down for two weeks in a row. Davis is a big, strong receiver with speed to do damage after the catch. It may take two defenders to bracket Davis, but that’s a good plan. There are other targets who have upside like veteran Jamison Crowder or rookie Elijah Moore, but Davis is the engine that makes the passing game go.
Rookie RB Emerging
The Jets did something the Broncos did in the 2021 NFL Draft – they selected a running back from North Carolina. While the Broncos added Javonte Williams in the second round, the Jets added his college teammate Michael Carter in the fourth round. Williams is a power back who runs through defenders and Carter is a speed back who uses quickness to create his own space as a runner.
Carter is not yet the full-time back for the Jets, as they employ a running-back-by-committee with guys like Ty Johnson and Tevin Coleman. The rookie is great in space, and he can be effectively used as a receiver out of the backfield. As good as Carter can be, he’s limited by his poor performance in pass protection. Simply put, if he can’t protect the passer he can’t get on the field as much as he could.
In Week 1, Carter ran the ball four times for six yards. In Week 2, Carter was the team’s best back with 11 carries for 59 yards. After his performance against the Patriots, Carter deserves a larger role in the backfield. The Broncos defense is strong against the run, but all it takes is a little bit of daylight for Carter to hurt you. They need to be sound tacklers and understand where the rookie is at all times because of his big-play ability.
With the No. 2 overall pick in the 2021 NFL draft, the Jets selected a potential franchise quarterback when they took Zach Wilson out of BYU. Wilson showed well on film and has all the skill you need from a pro passer. He’s athletic enough to keep plays alive with his feet while keeping his eyes downfield. Some in the NFL draft world compared him to Patrick Mahomes, but I’ve always found that outlandish and I felt he was more of a Baker Mayfield-type of quarterback.
I liked Wilson on film – a lot. However, one problem was a large problem for him that came through when breaking down the tape. Wilson struggles mightily under pressure. When he’s under duress, Wilson likes to rush things as a passer and gets too “cute” with his arm. It sounds obvious but pressuring the rookie quarterback is the way to get him to make a lot of mistakes.
That’s what the Patriots did against Wilson as he went 19-for-33 for 210 yards, zero touchdowns and four interceptions in Week 2. He was sacked four times and could not find time to hit his targets.
The Broncos defense doesn’t need to blitz Wilson much to get pressure. That means they can get home by rushing four or five while keeping more players back in coverage. The first two weeks have been good for the Broncos defense, and there’s a good chance they will completely dominate the Jets in Week 3.