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The Broncos game plan for beating the Jets in Week 3

Sep 25, 2021, 6:59 PM
Zach Wilson...
(Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
(Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

The Denver Broncos are on a roll. They are 2-0 after beating the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 2. On Sunday, they play their first home game of the 2021 season as the New York Jets come into town.

The Broncos can win this game easily, and they can use this contest as a warmup game before they face a much more difficult opponent next week. However, they cannot overlook this Jets team and turn this into a trap game.

How will the Broncos attack the Jets on both sides of the ball? Let’s take a look.

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When the Broncos Run the Ball

I’m biased because Javonte Williams was my No. 1 running back in this draft class, but I love watching this rookie run the rock for the Broncos. Power is the name of his game, and his tackle-breaking ability that was showcased in college at North Carolina has translated to the pros. Broncos fans are falling in love with the rookie running back because of his “never say die” style that has been obvious over the first two weeks of the regular season.

He’s still splitting time with Melvin Gordon in a move that keeps both backs fresh. The Broncos are passing the ball more than I thought they would, but they are responding to what defenses are showing them. As opponents stack the box to stuff the run, the Broncos are letting the passing game beat up on teams. In order to do that, the team must run the ball successfully.

I think this could be a Williams week, even though it’s a tough matchup against that Jets front seven. The Jets defense has players like defensive tackle Quinnen Williams and inside linebacker C.J. Mosley, both of whom play aggressive and can stop runners in their tracks. That sounds like a perfect opportunity for Williams to soften up the Jets defense on Sunday.

Expect the Broncos to utilize “13 personnel” and put a heavy package on the field with three tight ends. That’s a formation they can still pass out of (more on that in a bit) and they’ll be able to run the ball effectively and aggressively by utilizing that formation. Gordon is the big-play back, but Williams could emerge as the primary ball-carrier against the Jets.

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When the Broncos Pass the Ball

Fans and media have been recently proclaiming “I didn’t know Teddy could do this!” as a clear sign they didn’t know Teddy Bridgewater’s game. Bridgewater was thought to be “Captain Checkdown” as a passer, but he is statistically the best deep-ball passer in the league so far in 2021. Bridgewater makes full-field reads and will take the deep shot if it’s there.

Manipulation is a big part of his game. He identifies the defense before the ball is snapped. Scouts call this “isolate and eliminate” and it’s something Bridgewater does a great job of. He knows how to use his eyes to manipulate the defense, and that leads to big plays down the field to guys like WR Courtland Sutton and TE Noah Fant. In addition to using his eyes to trick a defense and influence defenders, Bridgewater works through his footwork hitches (something a defense keys on) to move linebackers and safeties where he wants them to go.

Bridgewater can use Fant as the primary weapon this week in my opinion. Using 13 personnel will get Fant, Albert Okwuegbunam and Eric Saubert on the field at the same time. All three are good receivers, but Fant is the best and his speed can be used on “seam rippers” down the middle. Fant has become more precise with his route-running and that’s something Bridgewater responds to as he’s a precision player himself.

The timing of this offense is much better, and the team uses simple concepts to get guys open. The “mirror curl/flat” design they use is easy to run and exposes a defense that lacks discipline. It also gives Bridgewater plenty of options to throw to, and he regularly uses several receivers during the game. Expect more of this concept against the Jets on Sunday.

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When the Jets Run the Ball

The Jets may not be able to stick with their rushing attack for that long if they fall behind early to the Broncos.
They don’t have a great running game and have been trying to use three backs, Tevin Coleman, Ty Johnson and rookie Michael Carter to attack defenses. Their plan has failed as Johnson has been the best back but he’s not their most explosive player.

That distinction goes to Carter – college teammate of Javonte Williams at North Carolina. They have “Thunder and Lightning” in college, and Carter’s quickness and speed have been barely used by the Jets in 2021. Against the Patriots in Week 2, not much went correctly for the Jets offense but they did look good when Carter was on the field.

Carter is the player who deserves more touches in the backfield. If/when the Jets fall behind, they need to use the rookie back because he’s the best receiving option out of the backfield. Carter struggles in pass protection and that may limit his touches, but when he’s on the field the Broncos need to pay attention.

Johnson will be the starter and the Jets will try and soften up the Broncos defense with power. After the poor performance of the passing game in Week 2 (four interceptions), I expect the Jets to run the ball to take pressure off their young quarterback. That means a healthy dose of Johnson and then a switch to Carter when they need explosive plays.

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When the Jets Pass the Ball

Like last week, the Broncos are facing a rookie quarterback in Week 3. This week, they go up against no.2 overall pick Zach Wilson. He’s coming off a four-interception performance against the Patriots in Week 2 and looking for a bounce-back game. Wilson is a talented player in terms of what he can do with his arm, but he does struggle under pressure.

When Wilson was under duress at BYU things went off script and didn’t always turn out positively. Wilson is a magician when he has to improvise and can make something out of nothing. He’ll use his legs to keep plays alive while keeping his eyes downfield. However, Wilson will often get too “cute” with his arm and try to force throws he has no business throwing. In the pros, Wilson has shown a propensity to try and throw it up to his no.1 receiver Corey Davis. That’s about the only receiver Wilson can trust.

The Jets don’t have much talent in the passing game, and you can take away Davis – their top target – like the Patriots did in Week 2. They’ll use “scissor concepts” to get Davis open, a staple of the Shanahan playbook the Jets use under new OC Mike LaFleur. The Broncos must maintain discipline when Wilson buys time with his legs. If they don’t, Davis can get open from scissors like he did in the play above.

Jets wide receiver Jamison Crowder (groin) did not participate in practice Friday, Sept. 24, and is listed as doubtful for Week 3. That takes away a slot option for Wilson and opens the door for Braxton Berrios to do more. Berrios is a super quick player who can flip the field as a receiver or return man for the Jets. Davis and Berrios, along with Wilson as a runner and Carter as a runner/receiver, are the only weapons the Broncos really have to concern themselves with. Let’s see if the Broncos can win big like most expect in Week 3.

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