Three keys to the Broncos getting a victory over the Raiders in Week 11
The Denver Broncos need to get a win in a bad way. If they don’t win in Week 11, the chances that we will see massive changes to the coaching staff increase. It may be too late to salvage head coach Nathaniel Hackett and most of his staff, but a win against a team Broncos Country hates would at least give you a small slice of hope.
This Sunday, the Broncos return home to take on their biggest rival the Las Vegas Raiders in what is looking like a must-win game.
The Raiders beat the Broncos earlier this year, and it was the widest margin of victory for an opponent so far this season. Will the Broncos learn from the last game and implement changes this week? They had better do that or changes to the coaching staff could be coming.
Here are three keys to victory in Week 11.
Stop Josh Jacobs
Last time out, Raiders running back Josh Jacobs had a career-high 144 yards rushing against the Broncos. Before that game in Week 4, Jacobs was averaging around 15 carries per game. Against the Broncos earlier this year, Jacobs could not be stopped and that’s why the team decided to give him a whopping 28 carries. That’s the highest carry total of the season for Jacobs, but he did have a 154-yard game the following week to break his yardage record.
Jacobs is not the runner that Derrick Henry is. The Broncos made a concentrated effort to stop Henry last week, and the team held him to just 53 yards on the ground. That’s amazing considering Henry is a superstar and the centerpiece of everything the Titans want to do on offense. Jacobs is not as good, but he’s not bad and the Raiders have more around him on offense than the Titans have around Henry.
That’s why the team won’t be able to make the same dedication to stopping the run. However, I think they should bring some of that plan that worked against Henry (big Nickel, etc) to slow down Jacobs.
At the podium on Thursday, Hackett admitted that his staff has watched the Week 4 tape again.
“You definitely watch it. You want to see how they attacked us and the different ways (they did it). We also look back at the old stuff that we have done and if there is anything that we can carry over because you want it to be as much of a review for the guys, especially now that we’re later into the season. We review all of that stuff and look at the things that they did, look at the things they may repeat and some of the things that they might change up. We definitely look at that quite a bit, but still, we have to look back at the four games (since then) and see what they’re doing now. They’ve had a lot of personnel changes themselves,” Hackett said.
Someone Besides Surtain
Broncos’ cornerback Patrick Surtain is going to lock down Raiders wide receiver Davante Adams in what should be an incredibly fun matchup to watch. In Week 4, Adams was targeted 13 times and he caught nine passes for 101 yards. That’s a great number but looking at the film and the advanced data show you that only around half of that production came against Surtain.
In fact, Surtain caused more tight-window throws (5) than receptions (4) for Adams in their first matchup. Surtain was lined up against Adams on 25 of the 35 routes he ran that day, and that may be the plan for the Broncos once again. As you can see from the first game, Adams didn’t do much against Surtain. However, he did produce against other Broncos’ cornerbacks that day.
This time around it’s got to be someone besides Surtain. The other corners are going to be tested on Sunday, and they need to respond. No matter who is out there for the Broncos, they’re not as good as Surtain of course but they can’t be the weak link in an otherwise strong defensive game plan. Adams, Mack Hollins and tight end Foster Moreau are going to provide challenges for this Broncos secondary, and Surtain can only do so much. Having some help come through with strong play would go a long way.
Like Broncos fans, and fans of good defense, Hackett is anticipating the Adams versus Surtain game within the game on Sunday.
“Without a doubt, I think it’s going to be a great matchup. We saw it last time that the went after it. (They are) two guys that I have so much respect for and are playing at an unbelievably high level right now. I think everybody is going to be excited to see those two guys go at it. I don’t think that they’re afraid to test him and I don’t think Pat is afraid to be tested. It’ll be a fun matchup there. Like you said, when you have your No. 1 guy taken away, that gives other guys opportunities to be able to make plays. That’s why you have to have different guys that can do different things,” Hackett said.
More Work Under Center
It seems like Hackett wants nothing more than to run his offense out of the shotgun. First, that’s not how the Shanahan West Coast system is supposed to operate. Two, Hackett doesn’t seem to run that scheme anymore.
Instead, we have this Frankenstein of an offense that is not working. Instead of doing something different and working from under center with the wide-zone concepts we were promised, Hackett seems to stubbornly stick to what is failing miserably – the shotgun. Going under center, working with the rush attack, and then using play-action passing would make a lot more sense than whatever Hackett is trying to piece together on a weekly basis.
Out of the shotgun, teams can pretty much guess that a pass is the play. When you run from the shotgun, the back usually flows to the opposite side of where he’s lined up. That’s also a tell for the defense because if they’re lined up on the right they’re going to run left and vice versa. It’s a complete tell for the defense no matter if it’s run or pass – and this Broncos offensive line is not good at pass protection as evidenced by the nearly 20 quarterback hits Wilson took against the Titans in Week 10.
A large portion of the press conference on Thursday revolved around this shotgun versus under center debate. Hackett didn’t really answer questions about why they’re using so much shotgun as he blathered on with his statement.
“Under center and the gun—when the game first started, it was primarily all under center. Now we see so many unique defenses and certain guys are getting up into the line of scrimmage. It really starts with the protection. Whenever you’re protecting and you have guys running through the A-gaps, the line can only take so many. You have to have people come down. You have edge threats and so forth. You always want, at times, the quarterback to be back in the gun. It’s evolved over time. It’s something that—gosh, it’s been probably (since the) 2000’s is when it really started rolling for everybody. There was the K-gun and things like that. I think there’s advantages to both—being under center for running the football and play action. You can do a lot of the same stuff from the gun. When you watch around the league, there are people that mix it up. Some stick primarily to the gun. There’s a lot of good things you can do with both,” Hackett said.