The game plan for the Broncos to beat the Titans in Week 10 showdown
The Denver Broncos have a chance to turn their season around coming out of the bye. The season is not lost, and Denver is coming off a win in London against the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 8. They need to build momentum from that win and carry it forward to this weekend.
The Broncos have a 3-5 record, and (as crazy as it sounds) the playoffs are not yet out of the question for this much-maligned team. In Week 10, the Broncos travel to Nashville for a game against the Tennessee Titans.
The Titans are a good team. The Broncos want to prove they’re a good team. We’re likely to see a close game in Nashville as I don’t think the Titans can blow out the Broncos unless Denver makes multiple costly mistakes on defense.
How will the Broncos attack the Titans on both sides of the ball? Let’s take a look.
When the Broncos Run the Ball
The starting running back doesn’t matter for the Broncos. Even though I can’t stand the plan, they are going to continue implementing a ‘hot hand’ approach at the position. That means we should continue to at least see Melvin Gordon and Latavius Murray continue splitting the workload. Add in the potential to use Chase Edmonds, a player they got in the trade with the Miami Dolphins for Bradley Chubb, and you can see how this could be a convoluted mess.
Gordon has been the starter, but he still seems to be too concerned with fumbling the ball. He’s not fumbled for a few games, but the way he runs now takes away from his playmaking ability because he’s covering up the ball and not fighting as much after contact. Murray has been the best back since the Broncos plucked him from the Saints’ practice squad. The veteran is a swfit runner who can soften up a defense between the tackles. He’s also a good receiver out of the backfield, although that role could be changed by the latest addition to the Broncos’ backfield.
Edmonds is an underrated runner in my opinion. He’s not a pile-pusher, but I like his vision and moves in the open field when toting the rock. I believe Edmonds can mostly be used effectively as a receiver out of the backfield. He is a player you want to use in space, and if the Broncos use tempo as a weapon, then it’s Edmonds who could be on the field as their “fast break” running back.
We are officially Chase Edmonds days away from Miami Dolphins Football✌🏻pic.twitter.com/68Ckk5ozsZ
— King of Phinland🐬👑 (@KingOfPhinland) September 9, 2022
We’ll see if any of these backs can get the “hot hand” during the game against the Titans. I like Murray the most in the backfield, and I’d like to see him get more than 15 carries. That’s a mark that no Broncos running back has exceeded this season. I like Edmonds as a receiving threat, and working him into the mix to utilize short passes to supplement rushing attempts is a wise idea. We’ll see if the Broncos feel the same way on Sunday.
When the Broncos Pass the Ball
I’d like to see Russell Wilson use short-to-intermediate passes to attack the Titans’ defense. Using those types of passes will organically create opportunities to throw the “moon balls” that Wilson loves to toss downfield. The Broncos can’t force it, but they need to pick and choose the right times to attack the Titans deep. They can set themselves up nicely with the short game to start out with.
Jerry Jeudy should be the leading target for Wilson. It’s not something I would normally recommend but coming out of the bye he looks like the best wide receiver on the team. It’s just not working with Courtland Sutton as he’s struggling to gain separation in his routes. Jeudy can gain separation with ease, and when given time to run his route, he has connected nicely with Wilson over the last couple of weeks. I think Sutton should still be a primary target in the red one because of his ability to play ‘above the rim’ but to get there it should be as much Jeudy as possible.
In addition to Jeudy, things are working with tight end Greg Dulcich. The rookie is making plays down the field for Wilson, and he’s earned the trust of his veteran quarterback. The coaching staff likes the effort Dulcich puts forth as a blocker, and they reward him with more snaps and more targets in the offense. There is no doubt that Dulcich is a weapon who can be a ‘seam ripper’ for the Broncos in the middle or on the outside of the formation.
— Denver Broncos (@Broncos) October 30, 2022
There have been some flashes with the passing game, and hopefully we see more consistency from this side of the ball. They need to go to Jeudy and Dulcich as much as they can in the passing game. When that happens, things will open for other targets like Sutton.
When the Titans Run the Ball
The Titans know who they are. The centerpiece of their offense is running back Derrick Henry, and he’s on track to be a Hall of Fame inductee when his playing days are done. Henry is huge, measuring 6-feet, 3-inches and 247 pounds and stopping him is going to hurt. The Broncos defense had better be ready for the physicality the Titans bring with Henry.
He’s a hammer who can handle a large workload – one the Titans are glad to give him on a weekly basis. Henry has been banged up with a foot injury over the last couple of weeks, but he’s coming into Week 10 on a five-game streak of 100-yard rushing performances. Even when he’s not 100 percent healthy, Henry is one of the best running backs in the league.
In addition to his power, Henry does have speed that belies his size. He’s swift and explosive when it comes to getting to-and-through the hole. Henry is not going to break ankles with juke moves to create space but give him a rushing lane and he will gash you for big plays. He’s intent as a runner and creates fear in a defense anytime he touches the ball.
DERRICK. HENRY. 😤 pic.twitter.com/QHkvcdNcWb
— sportsthread (@sportsthread) November 7, 2022
The Broncos can’t stop Henry. Instead, they need to do what they can to at least slow him down on Sunday. They’ll have to sell out to stuff the run. This will open them up on the back end of the defense but slowing down Henry is the key to staying with the Titans. Stuff the rushing lanes, and don’t let Henry break off big plays (if you can) is the best recipe for success.
When the Titans Pass the Ball
The Titans are getting veteran quarterback Ryan Tannehill back under center this week. He’s missed the last two games battling an ankle injury, and the Titans had to turn to the talented but very raw rookie Malik Willis at quarterback. Getting Tannehill back is good news for the wide receivers because not even one of them caught a pass from Willis last week in the 20-17 overtime loss to the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 9.
Tannehill is not a great quarterback, but he knows what the offense wants him to do, and he’s much more adept at doing that than Willis. It’s not to say Willis doesn’t have upside, but the rookie just doesn’t know what he’s doing yet. Tannehill is a seasoned pro with plenty of experience, so even though the Titans won’t present much of a threat through the air they are more dangerous with him as the starter. Not only can he make good decisions with the football as a passer, but Tannehill can also extend plays and is a threat to run with his legs. We’ll see if that part of his game is negatively impacted by the ankle injury he’s been recovering from over the last two weeks.
In addition to Tannehill, the Titans should get another starter back on offense this week. Wide receiver Treylon Burks, a first-round pick in the 2022 NFL draft, is expected back on the field after being placed on Injured Reserve in early October. Burks has been battling a toe injury, and he’s only played in four games so far this season where he’s caught just 10 passes for 129 yards on 16 targets. Burks is good after the catch, and he’s going to be out to prove himself after a disappointing start to his rookie season.
The Titans don’t have a great group of receiving weapons. However, solid guys like wide receivers Robert Woods and Nick Westbrook-Ikhine could be problematic if Burks is covered by Patrick Surtain. Add in tight end Austin Hooper and a rookie tight end I really like, Chigoziem Okonkwo, and the Titans have a few more options than most think.
Most big-time throws that wound up being incomplete in 2021 (PFF)
1. Ryan Tannehill (9) pic.twitter.com/tohZAwnlnU
— Ian Hartitz (@Ihartitz) May 24, 2022
The passing attack of the Titans is not as much of a concern for the Broncos defense, and even with Tannehill back I fully expect the Broncos to handle what the Titans can bring in this department.