Three keys to the Broncos getting a win over the Jets in Week 7
The Denver Broncos are in need of a win. They have lost their last three games, and currently the Broncos have a 2-4 record. Their defense is outstanding, but their offense might be the worst in the league. Even though they’ve been in each game during the fourth quarter, the Broncos have not found a way to pull away at the end. Everyone around the team is feeling the pressure as the 2022 season seems to be slipping away.
On Sunday, the Broncos return home to play the New York Jets. While the Broncos have dropped their last three games, the Jets have won their last three games. They have a 4-2 record, and they’ve beaten the Pittsburgh Steelers, Miami Dolphins, and Green Bay Packers during their current win streak.
The Jets have a ton of momentum going into this contest. They have been through injuries on both sides of the ball, including at the quarterback position, but the Jets are responding to the guidance and leadership of head coach Robert Saleh. The Jets are no longer the pushover most thought they would be when the schedule came out earlier this year. The Broncos can win, but the path to victory is more difficult than originally imagined.
Here are three keys to victory in Week 7.
Stop the Rookie RB
The Jets have one of the best rookie running backs in the league. Their second-round pick, Breece Hall, has quickly turned into a top player at his position. Coming out of Iowa State, Hall was known as a power back who can grind down a defense as the game goes on. He’s done that and more with the Jets, but Hall is also proving to be a three-down back who doesn’t need to come off the field.
The Broncos should spend most of their efforts on defense trying to stop the run. If the Broncos can contain or slow down Hall as a runner, then they’ll force quarterback Zach Wilson to beat them. The second-year quarterback is efficient, but he’s unlikely to fill the air with footballs in a winning effort against this tough Broncos defense.
If Hall is shut down as a runner, the rookie can still be dangerous as a receiver out of the backfield. Two weeks ago in the win over the Dolphins, Hall had 18 carries for 97 yards and one touchdown. In addition to the work he did on the ground, Hall also had two catches for 100 yards. He can rip off big plays in open space whether that’s as a runner or receiver for the Jets’ offense.
Hackett knows the Jets love to run the ball with Hall.
“They pride themselves on running the football and (Jets offensive coordinator) Mike (LaFleur) does a fantastic job of finding unique schemes to be able to get after different defenses. We know that’s going to be a big challenge for us—for our defense—because they’re good running football team,” Hackett said.
The Broncos need to get after second-year quarterback Zach Wilson. Over the course of the 2022 season, Wilson has struggled as the starter, been hurt, missed time, and come back to play good football. He’s run the gamut of play this year, but Wilson is certainly on the right track entering this game against the Broncos.
Wilson completed 10-of-18 passes for for 110 yards in the Jets’ 27-10, Week 6 win over the Packers. He was efficient and effective as the starter. The Jets are not asking Wilson to do too much, and instead they want him to be safe with the football and hand the ball off to Hall as much as possible.
The Broncos have put a ton of pressure on opposing quarterbacks. They went up against a superstar in Justin Herbert last week against the Los Angeles Chargers, and the Broncos were able to snap his 26-game streak of throwing at least one touchdown pass. They did that with pressure from guys like Bradley Chubb and Baron Browning.
Broncos defensive coordinator Ejiro Evero praised outside linebacker Browning, but he also knows the young player is still developing his skill set.
“He just has to do a good job of looking at the ball, keying the ball and not guessing. He’s working on it, and he’s getting better. For all of our guys, that’s the key. You can’t listen to the cadence. You can’t guess. You just have to key the ball and go,” Evero said.
Prevent Wilson Pressure (if he plays)
On the flip side, the Broncos need to keep their own Wilson away from pressure. Russell Wilson is battling through a couple of different injuries (shoulder, hamstring), and he is not playing at a high level as the season goes on. In fact, there is a chance that we see Brett Rypien as the Broncos’ starter on Sunday instead of Wilson.
If Wilson is out there, the Broncos offensive line needs to do a better job of keeping their quarterback clean. Wilson should still be a rushing quarterback, as that’s one of the hallmarks of his game. Yes, as he gets older he will have to learn how to win from the pocket. Now is not the time for that transition to happen. Instead, the Broncos need to feature Wilson as a runner on designed plays – like they did against the Chargers. Wilson also needs to have the freedom from the coaching staff to run when the play breaks down. When Wilson does that, the Broncos offense can move the ball.
If Rypien is the quarterback, the Broncos still need to have the priority of protecting the quarterback. Rypien is a young passer, and he struggles under pressure as most players with his lack of experience do. The team should run the ball as much as they can, but that could be difficult facing a defensive front like the Jets. They have a strong front seven, and playmakers at all levels of the defense, led by defensive tackle Quinnen Williams.
Hackett acknowledged his team has been below average when it comes to protecting the passer.
“In today’s game, especially on third down, there’s a lot of pressure. People do a lot of different things to try to get one-on-one matchups and then they start running everybody all over the place. There are a lot of picks and twists and all kinds of things. We try to do different things to try to be able to help us. It starts with the line, goes to the quarterback, and then, obviously, it also goes to those skilled positions getting open at the right time and in the right place due to the different coverages we can face with those different things that are happening. That’s the chess match. There are lot of different things that you can see, and we have to be sure we execute,” Hackett said.