Three keys to the Broncos getting a win over the Chargers in Week 6
The Denver Broncos are not a good football team. They do have talent on both sides of the ball, but the coaching staff is putting them in bad positions. The Broncos offense doesn’t even muster as many points as they used to under former offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur, while the defense – which is phenomenal – gets worn out carrying the team for an entire game.
On Monday, the Broncos travel to play the Los Angeles Chargers. It’s the Broncos fourth time on primetime, and football fans across the nation are sick of watching this inept offense. Against the Chargers, the Broncos must play their best game of the season in order to come out on top with a victory.
The Chargers are 3-2 after five weeks, with one of their losses coming in a close one to the Kansas City Chiefs and the other was a shellacking by the Jaguars. They’re a good team, but the Chargers are flawed. Can Denver take advantage of their weaknesses?
Here are three keys to victory in Week 6.
Play Keep Away
The Chargers have one of the best quarterbacks in the league. Justin Herbert is in his third pro season and he is arguably top-three at the position. The rest of the team around him needs to be better, but Herbert has all the skill needed to be a perennial Pro Bowl player with Hall of Fame upside.
To beat the Chargers, I think the Broncos need to play keep away from the Chargers. Having Herbert standing on the sidelines getting cold is much better for the chances of victory than him in the game slinging the rock. They have a great running back in Colorado’s very own Austin Ekeler. However, the receiving weapons are the ones who could do the most damage against the Broncos defense.
Herbert should get Keenan Allen back from a hamstring injury that has cost him most of the 2022 season. Allen is a great route runner, and he’s a threat to gain chunk yards after the catch. In addition to Allen, Mike Williams is there to make plays on the opposite side. Williams is a huge target with a large wingspan who can be dominant at the catch point. Even though he hasn’t emerged yet, tight end Gerald Everett has an athletic profile and can get open against the Broncos linebackers on underneath routes.
If the coverage is great, Herbert has the rushing ability to gash a defense with his legs. Even if the rush is great, Herbert has the escapability to gain yards or at least keep the play from being a huge loss behind the line of scrimmage. The fact is, the Broncos defense cannot rest against Herbert no matter the play call and how it matches to what the offense is trying to do.
Nathaniel Hackett knows how tough it’s going to be facing a complete quarterback like Herbert on Monday night.
“First and foremost, he can just drop back and play quarterback. Then when things don’t work out or the pocket collapses, he can take off and he can run. He’s an elite runner. He’s got very good speed, and he also has the ability to keep his eyes downfield and find explosive plays down the field. I think that’s what really stresses a defense more than anything. You want to try to keep him in the pocket as much as you possibly can. Because when he gets out, sometimes—and that’s not necessarily how we draw it up. Whenever there’s a scramble, it looks really cool. His ability to create when things aren’t perfect—I think—is the thing that he does best,” Hackett said.
Stay Close and Wait
If there’s one thing we all know about the Chargers, it’s their propensity to choke close games away. No team pulls defeat from the jaws of victory quite like the Chargers do. The Broncos don’t need to score 35 points to beat the Chargers – even though Broncos Country would take that gladly. Instead, the Broncos can slow down the Chargers offense and then get more out of their own offense to keep things close in the fourth quarter. If the game is close late, there is a good chance the Chargers will choke it away.
I believe the Broncos rushing attack needs to be led by Latavius Murray. He’s the new addition to the team, and he’s been with the Broncos for a couple of weeks since they signed him off the New Orleans Saints’ practice squad. Murray is a seasoned veteran with the size to wear down an opponent as the game goes on. He’s a good receiver out of the backfield, strong in pass protection, and Murray is not known as a fumbler.
Compare this to the poor play we’ve seen from Melvin Gordon. Simply put, the Broncos can’t trust Gordon because of his fumbling issue. He didn’t fumble in Week 5 against the Colts, but he did have a fumble where the play was declared dead. It’s too nerve-wracking for the Broncos to give the ball to Gordon – especially late in a close game. I’d like to see Murray get most of the work with perhaps some Mike Boone mixed in when he needs a breather.
Running the ball will help the team stay close and win – and Hackett knows that.
“I’ve kind of talked about it in the past. I think that with so many games and how violent this game is, the more backs you can have touch the ball and have fresh legs be out there, is always good. We’re going to get to know Latavius (Murray), here. I’ve known him for a long time, and I know he’s a downhill runner, he can do a lot of different things, he’s a very experienced back, so is Melvin (Gordon). Then (Mike) Boone, you saw him come on last game quite a bit. So all three of those guys, you want to see them have the ball in their hands at some point,” Hackett said.
Don’t Rely on GBOT Plays
We’ve seen the Broncos fall behind too often. Their first-down plays are rarely as successful as they need to be. The Broncos need to keep the offense in rhythm by getting to more second-and-fives and less second-and-tens. It’s zero gain or negative plays that greatly hurt this team as they can’t get things going on the offensive side of the ball.
Broncos offensive coordinator, Justin Outten, has called the plays on second-and-long their “get back on track” plays. Well, fewer GBOT plays will be a boost for the Broncos offense. It’s sad that this offense with Russell Wilson and Nathaniel Hackett can’t muster more than 14-15 points per game. That’s worse than what the Broncos had under former offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur.
I feel if the Broncos offense is better on first down, that could lead to longer, sustained drives. If they can have sustained drives against the Chargers that goes back to ‘key number 1’ in this article of keeping the ball away from a high-powered Chargers offense. The Broncos need to stay ahead of the sticks, so to speak, and that happens from better success on first down.
Hackett knows negative plays have been the downfall of his offense.
“Negative plays. I think that’s been one of our nemeses. We’ve been really good at some explosive passes down the field. I think we’re pretty high up there in the league and we have some really good explosive—we really feast or famine, and it’s in the red zone. and it’s in the middle of the field. The amount of ‘get back on tracks’ we have is just too difficult. We need to be way more efficient on first down. Getting positive yards, and even just getting incompletions instead of sacks or penalties. So I think those are the things that we’re focusing on, trying to narrow down the things that we want to be great at and then continually developing those,” Hackett said.