Three observations from the Broncos disappointing loss to the Raiders
The Denver Broncos could not get their first road win of the 2022 season. In Week 4, they lost to the Las Vegas Raiders by a score of 32-23.
This was the best foe the Broncos had faced all year. It certainly was the best quarterback the Broncos had faced all year, and the best running back. The Broncos failed to stop either Derek Carr or Josh Jacobs – among many other failures on Sunday.
Here are my three biggest observations from the loss to the Raiders.
Can’t Stop Jacobs
Raiders starting running back Josh Jacobs has been a problem for the Broncos. He ran the ball a whopping 28 times for a career-high 144 yards rushing. Add in his five catches for 31 yards and two rushing touchdowns, and you can see how Jacobs absolutely crushed the will of the Broncos defense. Before this game, the Broncos had only given up an average of 81.3 yards per game against the run. On Sunday, the Raiders gashed the Broncos for over 200 yards on the ground.
He’s done this before. Jacobs always has good games against the Broncos. The former first-round pick (2019) has played the Broncos six times in his pro career. During those years, Jacobs has three 100-yard games, and he’s scored nine touchdowns.
After the game, Broncos head coach Nathaniel Hackett praised the Raiders’ plan to utilize the rushing game.
“We knew when we went into this game, we were going to have to knock that run out early. And they do have very good run game, I give them so much credit. They came out and had a really good plan. They stuck with it throughout the entire game. When you run for over 200 yards, it’s going to be detrimental. They had a lot of plays. I thought they had a good plan. They didn’t want to get in to long down a distance for passing situations where we could rush the passer, and they tried to slow the whole pace down. So, I thought it was a really good plan by them.” Hackett said.
Josh Jacobs gained a career-high 110 rushing yards on 18 carries inside the tackles (+35 rushing yards over expected).
— Next Gen Stats (@NextGenStats) October 3, 2022
Up next, the Indianapolis Colts on Thursday night. They have a much better running back in Jonathan Taylor, but he’s banged up with an ankle injury. Taylor is undergoing further testing on Monday to examine what is being feared to be a high ankle sprain. That type of injury would cost him at least a couple of weeks to recover, and that means one of the best backs in the league may not be able to feast on the Broncos in Week 5.
Against the Raiders, the Broncos lost the time of possession battle – badly. This ties in to the earlier breakdown about Jacobs and the success of the Raiders rushing attack. I also feel this is going to be something opponents in the future try and key on. As the Broncos offense is going through their struggles, opponents not only slow them down with defense – but they do it with their offense as well.
Running the ball with great success means fewer three-and-outs. That means an opponent can just play keep away from the Broncos offense. Usually, this is a strategy implemented by teams that go up against high-powered offenses. That’s not the case with Denver. Instead, the offense struggles to find a rhythm until late in the game, and by then it’s been too late to win.
The Broncos only had the ball about 25 minutes out of a 60-minute game. The Raiders were able to throttle the Broncos by possessing the ball for almost 35 minutes. Their defense is bad, and the Broncos did wind up having success against them eventually. The Raiders covered up their own blemishes by slowing the game down and keeping the ball on offense with a slow and methodical plan of attack.
"Nathaniel Hackett is not a head coach."
— The Volume (@TheVolumeSports) October 3, 2022
It’s a short week for the Broncos, but the film from this game will be something the Colts study quite closely. Even if Taylor doesn’t play, expect the Colts to do what they can to win this game on the ground and control the time of possession.
Where are the Tight Ends?
One thing about the Shanahan system is that it can feature a quality tight end early and often. No matter who is running this version of the West Coast offense, the tight end can make a ton of plays on offense if they do one thing; block. When tight ends don’t block effectively in this system, then they don’t get to be on the field because it’s a “tell” to the defense when they’re in the game that it’s going to be a pass.
Deception is paramount in this offense. The offensive line gets a defensive line moving laterally, and they are trying to create chaos up front. The running back behind them is supposed to pick and choose his path as the play unfolds. This system can be nigh unstoppable when ran correctly, but it takes great efforts from the blockers up front. That means a tight end who struggles to block effectively, like Albert Okwuegbunam, won’t see much time.
Okweugbunam is still listed as the starter, but he’s not getting used because he’s not the type of tight end this offense needs. Instead, Eric Saubert was the only tight end targeted against the Raiders – and he was barely involved with only two passes thrown his way. Saubert came down with one grab for 25 yards which is nothing to write home about. The offense has problems, but if they had a better tight end, they would look a whole lot better.
Albert Okwuegbunam played one snap today and rookie Greg Dulcich is eligible to return from IR as early as Week 5. Albert O headed to healthy scratch territory?
— Mike Clay (@MikeClayNFL) October 3, 2022
When rookie Greg Dulcich comes back from his injury, I’d like to see him take over. With the lack of quality play from any of the Broncos tight ends, I think he will get that opportunity.