BRONCOS

The Broncos game plan to beat the Colts in Week 5 on “TNF”

Oct 6, 2022, 6:34 AM
Melvin Gordon...
(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

The Denver Broncos have a short week as they are at home in Week 5 to take on the Indianapolis Colts. The short week means they won’t get as much preparation as they normally do, but it also means they can quickly get back on track with a win and then have 11 days before a huge divisional matchup against the Los Angeles Chargers on Monday Night Football in Week 6.

The Broncos are 2-2 but it doesn’t feel like a .500 team. After their loss to the Las Vegas Raiders in Week 4, coupled with losing to the Seattle Seahawks in Week 1, and barely beating the Houston Texans and San Francisco 49ers in between, this seems like a team struggling to find an identity. They have a chance to forge a different identity this week against the Colts.

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

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When the Broncos Run the Ball

It’s unfortunate that we will not see Javonte Williams for the rest of the 2022 season. Williams is down for the year with a major knee injury that could change the trajectory of his career. In his place, the Broncos are going to try a few different options.

Melvin Gordon is the next man up – well, sort of. Gordon seemed to be demoted against the Raiders as Mike Boone was on the field before he was. When Gordon did get into the game, he fumbled the ball, and it was returned for a touchdown. He’s clearly not in the good graces of the coaching staff, but against the Colts he could be the best option.

Boone is an option as well. I like him as a reserve player, but he struggles in pass protection and that keeps him from getting a larger role. Boone is good in space, and if the Broncos want to use tempo as a weapon then I think Boone should be on the field.

Newly acquired Latavius Murray could eventually be the starter. He rushed for 57 yards and a touchdown on Sunday for the New Orleans Saints. The Broncos were able to snare him off the Saints practice squad on Monday, and he could have a larger opportunity in Denver than he was going to have in New Orleans. It’s a short week, and Murray just got here, so I’m not sure how up to speed he will be in this offense.

We’ll see how much Murray can get sprinkled in this week against the Colts. Gordon does have an opportunity to redeem himself, but ball security is a must. If he fumbles one more time, the Broncos may just cut him. Murray could be the starter against the Chargers, but if he plays against the Colts, I think it will be in a limited role.

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When the Broncos Pass the Ball

Courtland Sutton is the most dangerous part of the Broncos’ passing attack. We’ve seen others in the passing game let Russell Wilson down, but Sutton is the one he looks for when the chips are down. Sutton is big, and he’s capable of winning at the top of the catch point. Wilson knows that if he throws it up for the big man, Sutton has a good chance of coming down with it or getting a pass interference penalty on the defense.

Wilson needs Jerry Jeudy to step up. Jeudy does have some flashes here and there, but for the most part he’s turned in another disappointing season. Jeudy has all the physical talent in the world, and now he’s got a quarterback who can get him the ball, so the excuses of the past are done. If Jeudy cannot become more consistent, I think the Broncos could find another target to go to besides Sutton – if that guy can stay healthy.

We got to see the first catch of the 2022 season from K.J. Hamler last week. It was a ‘moon ball’ from Wilson that almost went for a touchdown. Hamler missed most of the 2021 season due to knee/hip injuries that had to be surgically repaired. He’s been recovering ever since, and it was great to see him haul in a deep pass against the Raiders. We need to see more of that in this offense, and I feel with the injury to Williams we might see a change to more passing and more deep shots.

Are the Broncos going to change their offensive philosophy? I think that could be a possibility for a couple of different reasons. First, they don’t have Williams anymore so they could lean away from the rushing attack. Second, this team needs to lean on Wilson more than ever. What does Wilson like? Whatever that answer is, the Broncos need to do it in order to play up to their potential and score more than 16 points per game.

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When the Colts Run the Ball

The Colts will be without star running back Jonathan Taylor this week. He was declared out on Wednesday, so the Colts will have to turn elsewhere on the ground. They do have talented backs behind Taylor, but things will look a little different without the superstar in the backfield.

Nyheim Hines is great in space. He is not much of a between-the-tackles guy, but Hines can make defenders look silly in space. Hines should be utilized as a receiver out of the backfield against the Broncos, and as a runner they could use him on toss plays to feature his quickness and speed. To lead the way on the ground, the Colts have a young back to turn to.

Deon Jackson was undrafted out of Duke a couple of years ago, and he’s spent time with the Colts developing his skill set. Jackson is a large runner, but he’s swift and gets to top speed in a hurry. Even though most will see him as a banger between the tackles, Jackson has shown the ability to rip off big plays when he sees daylight. In addition to his ability on the ground, I feel Jackson is decent (but not as good as Hines) as a receiving option out of the backfield.

There’s even a chance the Colts use Phillip Lindsay against the Broncos. He would love nothing more than to have a big game against his former team in a revenge that would be sweet for the Colorado native. Lindsay has bounced around the league since the Broncos let him go unceremoniously.

Lindsay will be the player to watch for the Colts. If he gets onto the field, Lindsay will be motivated like no other. No matter who is toting the rock for the Colts, the Broncos must prove they can stop the run.

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When the Colts Pass the Ball

Colts’ quarterback Matt Ryan has been a turnover machine this year. He has five interceptions so far in four games, but he’s had nine fumbles this year too. The Broncos can take advantage of that on Thursday. They need to get after Ryan with their pass rush, and when they do that good things will happen.

Michael Pittman is the best wide receiver on the Colts. He’s huge, has a large wingspan, and he can rip away contested catches with ease. Pittman is a stud, but he’s going to be covered by Patrick Surtain on Thursday. Surtain should be able to slow down Pittman, so that leaves other receivers as perhaps better options for Ryan.
Alec Pierce is a talented rookie out of Cincinnati. The Colts picked him up in the second round, and he’s picked it up over the last two weeks. Pierce is coming off a career-high 80 yards receiving against the Titans. He’s a good route runner, and Pierce has good concentration in tight windows.

I also believe the Colts will utilize their three tight ends to attack the Broncos defense. Mo Alie-Cox is a former basketball star who has turned into a solid pro. Behind him, the Colts have Kylen Granson and rookie Jelani Woods. Both Granson and Woods are athletic enough to attack the seam, a weak spot for the Broncos defense.

The Broncos defense must lead the way this year while the offense figures things out. In order to do that, the Denver defense must be strong against the run. If they can slow down the Colts’ rushing attack, that puts more pressure on Ryan to make plays through the air. With the way that Ryan is turnover prone, putting the onus on him to carry the Colts would be good news for the Broncos.

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The Broncos game plan to beat the Colts in Week 5 on “TNF”