BRONCOS

Three observations from Denver’s clutch win over Jacksonville in Week 8

Oct 30, 2022, 2:28 PM
Jerry Jeudy...
(Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)
(Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)

The Denver Broncos went across the pond and broke their four-game losing streak by beating the Jacksonville Jaguars in London.  Both teams were 2-5 entering this contest, and both teams were close to having a much better record. The Jaguars were 0-5 in one score games this season, and on Sunday, they made it 0-6 by losing to the Broncos 21-17.  

Beating a bad Jaguars team doesn’t mean the Broncos are going anywhere this season, but a win is a win. This is a start, and this victory gets the Broncos back on the winning track. Now, it’s on them to take this momentum and build on it after their Week 9 bye.  

Broncos head coach Nathaniel Hackett wasn’t talking about saving his job after the game but instead enjoying the win.  

“I mean, all that stuff I can’t control. For me, it’s about controlling what I can. All the coaches, all the players. We always want to focus in on what we can do so we continue to get better. We’ve had opportunities to win a lot of football games. That’s facts.” Hackett said.  

Here are my three biggest observations from the win over the Jaguars.  

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Bonitto Bonus 

The Broncos had depth at the pass-rusher position when the season began. It’s one of the reasons why rookie second-round pick Nik Bonitto hadn’t done much to this point of his first season. Bonitto had played sparingly as a reserve player, but in Week 8 he got a larger role due to the injuries to Randy Gregory and Baron Browning.  

like what I saw from Bonitto against the Jaguars. He’s a good pass rusher, and Bonitto has good bend when getting around the edge. He’s got the burst and speed to find the quarterback quickly after he makes his turn, and Bonitto came through with some important plays against Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence. Bonitto finished with two tackles, one sack, and he helped his teammates get production as well by forcing Lawrence away from his pressure.  

These are all things I expect from Bonitto. What I liked most was his ability to adapt as a run defender. Now, he’s not great in that department yet but you did see in-game strides to give you confidence that he can be better against the run with more time. The Jaguars made an effort to run to Bonitto’s side as he’s soft when it comes to setting the edge. They did have great success on the ground, almost running for 200 yards as a team, but Bonitto did scrape to the ball and would put his body on the line to make a stop.  

Hackett was happy with the young players stepping up due to injuries.   

“Day in and day out, they do such a great job. I think with some of the injuries, also. You know, another guy goes in and steps up. Nik Bonitto comes in there and makes some plays. Jonathon Cooper gets in there. Kongbo got in there. So I think it’s not just them individually, but as a group, they’re just bonding together so well. They’re attacking, they’re pressuring, they’re playing covering. It’s really great to see.” Hackett said.  

*** 

Jerry!  

With Russell Wilson back in the starting lineup, I didn’t know what we’d see from Broncos wide receiver Jerry Jeudy. When Brett Rypien started against the New York Jets last week, Jeudy was his favorite receiver getting 11 targets and catching seven catches for 96 yards. Outside of his 102-yard performance in Week 1, Jeudy usually only catches a few passes a game with Wilson as the passer.  

The Broncos offense made a point to get the ball to Jeudy, and he came through with the best production of any wide receiver on the roster. While Courtland Sutton, normally Wilson’s favorite, struggled we saw Jeudy thrive against the Jaguars. Wilson targeted Jeudy seven times, and he caught six passes for 63 yards and one touchdown.  

It was good to see Jeudy spring to life against the Jaguars. Talent has never been a question with Jeudy, as he’s one of the most physically gifted and nuanced receivers on the team. Jeudy has been held back by a lack of usage and the frustration that comes with that. Whatever the reason, the Broncos chose to feature Jeudy more and that seemed to get him dialed in.  

After the game, Hackett explained why the ball was distributed to Jeudy so much.  

“Well, we all know Courtland [Sutton] is a good football player, and so everybody is going to try to take him away. That is going to open up opportunities for Jerry and KJ and Dulcich, because the more people that you have that people are nervous about, the more it’ll open Courtland back up a little bit more. But if they’re going to try to do that, then other people need to step up and make a play. We had talked about that in between the series, that we wanted to give KJ an opportunity for a go-ball to that side, and we got the look we wanted and he executed it to perfection. That’s what we’re looking for, just when you have those opportunities, being able to make it happen.” Hackett said.  

*** 

Jekyll and Hyde O-Line 

don’t think Broncos offensive line coach Butch Barry is good at his job. The Broncos offensive line has seemed to regress under his guidance compared to what we’ve seen from this unit under former coach Mike Munchak. Add in the fact that Barry is a yeller and not a teacher, and I think they could and should upgrade that spot on the coaching staff.  

Against the Jaguars on Sunday, we seemed to see two different versions of the offensive line. Early in the game, Wilson was under duress early and often. For the entire contest, Wilson was hit eight times and sacked three times by the Jaguars defense. In the second half, the Broncos offense used tempo as a weapon and kept the pressure at bay.  

The offense seemed to get into a rhythm when they were working at a faster pace. A large portion of their success was using quick passes to get the ball to the receivers and out of the hands of Wilson. The offensive line found a groove when the team marched the ball 98 yards down the field for a touchdown. They also seemed to play better when Graham Glasgow came in at center for an injured Lloyd Cushenberry.  

Hackett didn’t provide much of an update on Cushenberry after the game. “He’s got a hip.” Hackett said.  

***

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Three observations from Denver’s clutch win over Jacksonville in Week 8