BRONCOS

The game plan for the Broncos to beat the Jaguars and finally get another win

Oct 29, 2022, 12:23 PM
Nathaniel Hackett...
(Photo by AAron Ontiveroz/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
(Photo by AAron Ontiveroz/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images)

The Denver Broncos are not good. In fact, they are among the worst teams in the NFL. Things have gone from bad to worse under head coach Nathaniel Hackett. This season is worse than anyone could have possibly imagined – and this has been the easy part of the schedule!

The Broncos are 2-5 this season after seven games. They have a bye in Week 9, and several changes may be made before they come back in Week 10. Hackett’s job is on the line, and a poor showing in front of an international audience could get him axed. The Broncos travel to London for their game on Sunday, and NFL fans are nauseated from what they’ve seen of this team in 2022.

Both the Broncos and the Jacksonville Jaguars share the same record, and both teams have had close losses in every game with an “L” in the column. Close doesn’t matter in the NFL, and this is a results-based business where things have not been good for either team. Both squads have to be looking at each other like the Spiderman meme where they are pointing at each other.

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

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When the Broncos Run the Ball

The Broncos backfield is more confusing than ever. It shouldn’t be, but Hackett tends to make things complicated when he doesn’t have to. The Broncos have a talented backfield, and a trio of backs who could carry a full load if needed. However, the Broncos tend to stumble and bumble their way through a ‘hot hand’ approach in their running-back-by-committee. Instead of one back getting hot, there is confusion, hurt feelings (for Melvin Gordon), and general tomfoolery when it comes to the way these backs are utilized.

Somebody needs to tell Hackett to feed the rock. Even if he’s going to use Gordon, Latavius Murray, and newly acquired Marlon Mack – DO IT! The Broncos offense is the worst in the league, and they can’t score points. They get off the field too quickly, and that tends to tire out the defense which comes back to bite them in close games. The solution? Run the ball early and often. Gordon, Murray, and Mack should have at least 10 touches apiece.

I’d like to see Murray get the starting nod, but it doesn’t matter if Hackett won’t commit. Murray is large, swift, and he doesn’t fumble. He’s a better starting option than Gordon. Sure, Gordon hasn’t fumbled in a couple of games but every Broncos fan gets tense when he’s handling the rock. I could even make the argument that Mack is a better starter than Gordon at this point in his career – and Mack has mostly been a backup during his career where he’s bounced to multiple teams.

We’ll see who gets to lead the team in carries against the Jaguars, I just hope whoever it is they end up with quite a few touches.

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When the Broncos Pass the Ball

Russell Wilson is back at quarterback this week for the Broncos. Last week, the Broncos went with Brett Rypien as their starter because Wilson’s hamstring injury was too much for him to play through. I think another week of rest, plus the bye week, would’ve been ideal for Wilson but he’s got to prove how tough he is at every turn and insists that he’s ready to go even though practice footage from London tells a different story.

The best part of Wilson’s game is when he improvises. He may eventually want to be a pocket passer almost exclusively, but those days aren’t here yet. Instead, Wilson needs to use boot action in order to hit those throws down the field he loves to toss. He cannot look like himself when he still is playing with a partially torn hamstring. Add in the lat injury near his throwing shoulder, and you can see how Wilson’s struggles have come to be.

With Rypien in the lineup, wide receiver Jerry Jeudy was targeted a lot more. Some think Jeudy is being showcased before the trade deadline – which may be true as the New York Giants may have interest in the 2020 first-round pick. With Wilson back under center, I think wide receiver Courtland Sutton and rookie tight end Greg Dulcich will be the apples of his eyes. If the team commits to running the ball, that will set up the play-action passing needed to hit both of these big targets down the field. Add in some stretch plays where wide receiver K.J. Hamler can take the top off the defense, and that sounds like a good recipe for success.

Hopefully, Sutton gets the most work and produces at a high level. He and Dulcich are the most important pieces to this passing attack. Both present mismatch problems for a defense, and both should be Wilson favorites on Sunday.

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When the Jaguars Run the Ball

The Jaguars have one of the most explosive running backs in the league in Travis Etienne. The 2021 first-round pick has looked like everything he was cracked up to be during his college career at Clemson. Etienne is a special player with the ball in his hands. He’s got a nose for the end zone, and he can be dangerous as a runner or receiver out of the backfield.

The thing I like most about Etienne is his patience. A lot of explosive backs can’t wait to hit the hole and make the big play. In this urgency, too often those type of players will run themselves out of a play by hitting a hole too prematurely. That’s not the case with Etienne. He will have the patience to stretch the play and wait for the right entry point. Once he sees daylight, Etienne can turn on the burners and gash a defense.

Etienne also has incredible vision, so the Broncos rush defense needs to play with great discipline. He’s got the ability to find cutback lanes that most can’t see or can’t get to if they do see it. If Nik Bonitto is out there, the Jaguars will run at his side. Bonitto is a talented pass-rusher, but the rookie struggles to set the edge against the run. He’ll be a target of the Jaguars rushing attack.

Containing explosive plays is key. They will use RPO concepts to freeze the defense, allowing an explosive player like Etienne to do plenty of damage.

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When the Jaguars Pass the Ball

Trevor Lawrence has the look of a young franchise quarterback. He’s got the arm to make every throw required in the NFL. Lawrence is bright, and he does a good job surveying the field from the pocket. In fact, the Jaguars are keeping his concepts simple this year and rarely use play-action passing – even though Lawrence could thrive with such plays. Instead, they ask him to read the defense quickly and get rid of the ball – something he can do skillfully.

Christian Kirk has played the best football of his career in 2022. He’s always been a quick receiver, but when he was with the Arizona Cardinals it was more of a reserve player. Now, with the Jaguars Kirk has taken on the spotlight of a no.1 receiver. He’s going to work underneath routes, and he can attack the Broncos from the slot. This means Broncos cornerback K’Wuan Williams will have his hands full on Sunday.

Patrick Surtain is arguably the best corner in the league. He will be tasked with covering veteran Marvin Jones Jr on most routes. Jones may no longer be the player he used to be, but he can still fly down the field. He has late hands, and thus does not tip off the defender a pass is incoming. Jones can effortlessly pluck the ball over his shoulder and make a big play.

The Jaguars have a multitude of weapons to get after the Broncos with. Lawrence can use his legs if he needs to, so it will truly be 11-on-11 football on Sunday. The Broncos had better be on their toes with all the Jaguars can throw their way.

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The game plan for the Broncos to beat the Jaguars and finally get another win