The Denver Broncos desperately needed a win over the Jacksonville Jaguars to keep their season from slipping away from them. They did it, but with some terrible offensive production and a much needed pick-six from the defense.
We learned a bit from this team in this game and after a few weeks off from these recaps, I’m starting them back up again.
Here are the five things we learned in this game.
1. Paxton Lynch is not ready to lead this team
It would be rookie first round pick Paxton Lynch’s second career start and he looked unready for the challenge. His decision-making was solid as he committed zero turnovers and often threw to the correct receiver. The problem was accuracy. His throws were often wildly inaccurate and his footwork was atrocious.
He is not ready to start in the NFL.
Despite the poor play, it is encouraging that they are this close through their first ten quarters of play.
It gives me hope that if Lynch can fix the footwork and accuracy, he’ll be a star in this league. As I said, his decision-making was fine. He just couldn’t get the ball to where he needed the ball to go.
For now, this is clearly Trevor Siemian’s team. And it’s time to do gear up to do some damage in the playoffs.
2. Broncos run defense much improved
Ignore the final numbers of 38 rushes for 154 yards the Broncos defense surrendered. It was not as bad as it appears.
They did exactly that ... to the tune of about three yards a pop. T.J. Yeldon had 14 carries for 55 yards (3.9 ypc) and Denard Robinson had 17 carries for 53 yards (3.1 ypc). I don’t care how much you want to run the ball, because I’ll give you 3.5 yards per carry all day long.
The yards came because of volume, not because the Broncos defense was soft again inside. They have not been soft inside for three consecutive game now and that gives me great comfort as they head into the most important part of the regular season.
3. C.J. Anderson is badly missed by this team
Devontae Booker had the look for a featured back early in the season when he was coming in to spell Anderson. When Anderson went down, I openly worried that Booker would have much less success once defenses keyed in to stop his style of running the ball.
The reasoning behind is how Anderson runs the ball. He is so shifty and hits the cut back often that defenders are often left guessing where he might go despite the entire offensive line blocking in a certain direction. With Booker, defenses know to follow the flow of the blocks and go make the tackle - usually for about a 2 yard gain.
Anderson is a dynamic talent due to his ability to keep defenses off balance with his running style and having him back in time for the playoffs would be very good. Hopefully it happens!
4. Everything flows through the Broncos defense
Whether everything is winning or losing, it flows through that amazing defensive unit. Siemian had the best game of his career, but it was the defense that lost that game. Lynch had the worst game of his career, but it was the defense that won that game.
This team will only go as far as this defense takes it. And I really mean that.
In this one, a key pick six from Bradley Roby was the difference in the game, while a forced fumble from Von Miller iced it. They gave up 333 yards, but only 179 passing. This team will make everyone work hard to score points against them.
5. We just got to deal with the offensive woes
Whether it’s Siemian or Lynch, this offense isn’t ever going to be that good. They will play in spurts, usually when the offensive line actually puts together a string of good plays - which is rare.
Just be patient with it and trust that Gary Kubiak will scheme enough plays to overcome the many limitations in talent to keep the Broncos in most games.
It would be the end of the world without the type of defense on the other side of the ball, but that’s now how it is, so its okay to keep some positive vibe on the offense.
The only time the offense seems like it might be good is when Siemian is hitting on the deep throws. So far he has only done that in two games. Against the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 3 and the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 12.