What’s the Broncos game plan for beating the Jets in Week 7?
The Denver Broncos are the most-disappointing team in football. What was supposed to be a season where they were brought back to glory – likely with a playoff run – has turned into a lost season in just a little over a month.
The Broncos are 2-4, but they’ve been close in every loss. In every fourth quarter of every game this year, the Broncos have been within three points. Their defense is playing out of their mind, but the coaching staff’s inexperience is showing, plus the offense and special teams are regularly playing bad football. That’s why the Broncos have dropped their last three games, and they haven’t won a game in the month of October.
The New York Jets come into town on Sunday to take on the Broncos. They are winners of three in a row, and the Jets are certainly turning things around after starting the 2022 season 1-2. Their record stands at 4-2, and they have the momentum the Broncos sorely need.
How will the Broncos attack the Jets on both sides of the ball? Let’s take a look.
When the Broncos Run the Ball
Melvin Gordon is going to start for the Broncos in Week 7. That news outraged some in Broncos Country as Gordon is not well liked by the fan base. I don’t have any problem with him personally, but I understand why Broncos fans are sick of seeing him on the field. Gordon still has a fumbling problem, and he’s one of the worst in the NFL when it comes to holding onto the rock. I thought they should have never brought Gordon back this offseason, but that’s for another time. Right now, he’s here and he’s playing. How much he plays is the question.
Gordon is a capable runner and receiver out of the backfield. He’s good in pass protection, and the veteran back has a nose for the end zone. Despite all his fumbling problems and perceived attitude problems, Gordon is loved by his teammates. He needs to mentally get over the fumbling, and Gordon needs to bring his focus to the field. Right now, Gordon is distracted, and he might be thinking about asking for a trade. Of course, he might not need to ask as I anticipate the Broncos would listen to trade offers for Gordon if the phone rang.
Latavius Murray proved last week against the Chargers that he can carry a large workload. Gordon did start against the Chargers, but he barely touched the ball as Murray led the way on the ground with 15 carries for a team-high 66 yards rushing. Murray seemed to take the place of Gordon, and he got a workload that we used to see for Javonte Williams. While Gordon is a capable gap runner who does okay in zone blocking, Murray is mostly a gap runner – and he runs with power. You saw a different blocking scheme when Murray was on the field. I expect he will get more integrated in the wide-zone system as Murray gets used to the complicated offense.
Death, Taxes, and Melvin Gordon Over 0.5 Fumbles…inevitables ‼️ pic.twitter.com/zgKOWBE9yc
— Odds Shark (@OddsShark) September 13, 2022
To me, it doesn’t matter who is running the ball. I just want the Broncos to have a commitment to the run game. That’s the best recipe for success in Week 7 against a Jets team that can get after the quarterback. Slow down their pass rush by running the ball on Sunday.
When the Broncos Pass the Ball
For this article, I’m going to assume that Russell Wilson is starting at quarterback and not Brett Rypien. I watched Wilson out at practice this week, and I think he should rest his hamstring. Wilson looked like he was struggling to move around, and I know he wants to tough it out, but I think it would be best for him to take the next two games off. Follow that up with a bye week, and Wilson would have three weeks to properly heal.
If Wilson plays, he needs to be more accurate with his passes. If Rypien plays, he needs to be safer with the ball. Wilson’s footwork has been off this season. The hitches in his dropbacks are not in time or in placement with where his receiver’s progressions are. I’m not sure if this is a coaching issue or a Wilson issue, but I know it’s wrong. Rypien’s feet are fine, but his arm strength is average, and he loves to take chances with passes that I don’t think he should take.
Courtland Sutton is Wilson’s favorite target, but it was nice to see him spread the ball around against the Chargers early in that game. If Wilson plays, I’d like to see more from Jerry Jeudy, K.J. Hamler, and rookie tight end Greg Dulcich. If Rypien plays, he’s likely to have a better connection with Hamler and Dulcich – two players he worked with during the offseason arguably more than Wilson did.
The play that set up the TD >>>
— Denver Broncos (@Broncos) October 18, 2022
We’ll see how much the Broncos try to pass the ball on Sunday. If things go according to plan, regardless of the quarterback, this team should at least be balanced if not run-heavy against the Jets in Week 7.
When the Jets Run the Ball
The Broncos should sell out to stop the run. The Jets feature rookie running back Breece Hall as their starter, and he’s quickly become one of the best in the game at his position. I don’t think that’s going overboard. The rookie running back took some time to get going, but over this win streak for the Jets he’s really come to life on the field. Hall looks like the player Javonte Williams could have been had the Broncos ever featured him properly.
Hall is a power back who loves to run over people. He was my no.2 running back in this draft class behind only Kenneth Walker (Seahawks), and I had a first-round grade on him. The Jets were happy to get him in Round 2, and he’s teamed perfectly with second year back Michael Carter. While Hall brings the power, Carter brings the electricity to the field. It’s a great combination, and over this win streak the Jets have emphasized running the football and winning with toughness. That’s Hall’s specialty.
Even though he’s a big back, Hall moves with the grace of a much smaller man. He’s nimble for a power back, and he can change direction without losing much speed. It doesn’t take him much time to get up to full speed, and he can rip off big plays as a runner or receiver (see his 79-yard catch against the Dolphins in Week 5). Hall is a patient player who has excellent vision to find holes and cutback lanes quickly.
Breece Hall put up his first 100 yard rushing game of his career on Sunday against the Packers.
Hall is such a smooth runner and his patience and vision were on full display. But he has the burst to get to the edge and take advantage of the blocks he sets up. pic.twitter.com/YOAejdIPkU
— Nate Tice (@Nate_Tice) October 21, 2022
The Broncos will have their hands fuller than some think facing these two backs for the Jets, and this is not the game to take lightly. Hall can beat you with power and speed. Carter can beat you with speed and quickness. The Broncos have a strong defense, and they should stack the line to stuff the run on Sunday.
When the Jets Pass the Ball
If the Jets have their way, they won’t have to pass the ball much against the Broncos. As previously stated, they’ve won with defense and rushing over the last three weeks. Second-year quarterback Zach Wilson hasn’t had to do much during that time. Wilson is working to be the team’s franchise quarterback after they spent a top-5 pick on him in last year’s draft. He’s missed some time with injury, and upon his return the Jets are using him primarily as a game manager – and it’s working.
Wilson is a gamer, but he also struggles mightily with pressure. When he’s in a rhythm, the young passer and work quick passes on short-and-underneath routes. This sets him up to take the big shots that he can hit with accuracy down the field. However, Wilson will start to ‘see ghosts’ if you get to him enough. The Broncos defense is excellent at rushing the passer, and I think they can make Wilson quite uncomfortable on Sunday.
When Wilson goes to throw, he’s got a few weapons to take note of. Corey Davis is their top receiver, but he should be blanketed by Broncos cornerback Patrick Surtain. That means rookie Garrett Wilson should get a large target share. The first-round pick has speed, speed, and more speed to his game. He’s an electrifying playmaker with the ball in his hands after the catch too. The Jets also have Elijah Moore, another electric receiver, but he needs to work on his route running to make more plays for them.
#Jets need to give these reps to Garrett Wilson. Not a good rep from Elijah Moore here (top).
Solid throw from Zach if you look when he releases.
Lafleur has to do a better job of capitalizing on Moore’s strengths and putting him in positions to win. pic.twitter.com/0bYlfFzDA8
— Cool Your Jets (@CYJpod) October 18, 2022
The Jets have more weapons than the casual fan thinks. Tight end Tyler Conklin was a frequent target for Joe Flacco when Wilson was hurt. However, over the last two games he has just three targets (after averaging around seven targets per game over the first month). If the Jets wanted to, they could use Conklin on underneath routes to save Wilson from the Broncos’ pressure. I don’t anticipate the Jets will do much through the air on Sunday in what could be a low-scoring game.