For just the fourth time in franchise history, the Denver Broncos fall to 0-4 after blowing a 17-3 lead to the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Here’s what we learned:
1. Noah Fant scores his first touchdown!
On the Broncos second possession Rich Scangarello dialed up a sneaky tight end screen. Flacco faked the ball to Phillip Lindsay only to turn and dump it off to the rookie tight end with grass in front of him, Dalton Risner made a crucial block and Fant did the rest.
Noah Fant scores his first NFL touchdown after Rich Scangarello dials up a tight end screen. #Broncos 7 #Jaguars 0 pic.twitter.com/ToBw5U36SW— Joe Rowles (@JoRo_NFL) September 29, 2019
2. De’Vante Bausby comes down to earth.
I suspect by season’s end D.J. Chark will be getting some national attention, as he’s had a really nice start to the season. On the Jags second drive he suckered Bausby with a double move and hauled in the pass to get Jacksonville into the red zone.
The rest of the game didn’t go a whole lot better. Bausby mixed in a few nice plays, but continued to have trouble with D.J. Chark and Dede Westbrook. He was also part of the issues defending the run.
3. The first sack party of 2019!
One of the worst parts of the world of suck to start 2019 has been this stubborn idea that Von Miller was slacking or Fangio forgot how to coach defense. Such is reality when the Denver D goes three weeks without a sack or turnover, though.
That won’t have to be the case anymore.
Von Miller. Still good. #Broncos SACK! pic.twitter.com/tOKQwOg86K— Joe Rowles (@JoRo_NFL) September 29, 2019
Once Von cracked the seal, the party was on. Bradley Chubb got in on the action in the second quarter after easily beating Cam Robinson to the inside. It looked like the Jags left tackle expected help from Fournette, but assistance never came.
The #Broncos notch their second sack, this one by @astronaut! pic.twitter.com/KWMkaLr2Mg— Joe Rowles (@JoRo_NFL) September 29, 2019
Miller became the 4th fastest player to reach 100 sacks in their career at the end of the second.
Von Miller is Mr. 100 as the #Broncos notch their third sack of the day. pic.twitter.com/kDa2qH88PE— Joe Rowles (@JoRo_NFL) September 29, 2019
Even DeMarcus Walker got in on the action.
DeMarcus Walker gets to Minshew and the #Broncos sack party continues into the second! pic.twitter.com/zaSHAIRVmf— Joe Rowles (@JoRo_NFL) September 29, 2019
Malik Reed joined the party in the fourth quarter with his first NFL sack.
Reed gets his first #NFL sack and the #Broncos sack party rolls on. 5 today! pic.twitter.com/nNHs0et5sH— Joe Rowles (@JoRo_NFL) September 29, 2019
4. The passing game looks almost unstoppable in the first half.
Going into the game with Jalen Ramsey’s status a mystery, it was difficult to predict how Denver’s passing game would look. Then in the hours before the game it became clear he wouldn’t play because of a back issue.
Rich Scangarello capitalized on the Jaguars missing their star cornerback by dialing up plenty of looks for Courtland Suttond and Emmanuel Sanders.
Making it look easy, @SuttonCourtland!#BeatTheJags pic.twitter.com/ABqnqwbxqT— Denver Broncos (@Broncos) September 29, 2019
5. Flacco finally notices Hamilton.
The Broncos second year receiver has been very quiet to start the year as Flacco peppered Sanders, Sutton and the running backs with targets. Even without receiving yards, Hamilton has been a consistently solid blocker on run plays. That continued today.
Lindsay follows nice blocks by Hamilton and Risner on the #Broncos second and long. pic.twitter.com/SD6tmaOrST— Joe Rowles (@JoRo_NFL) September 29, 2019
So it was really nice to see his quarterback finally give him a fair shot on a deep play, and Hamilton delivered at the end of the second quarter.
DaeSean Hamilton sighting! Flacco finds him deep to get the #Broncos into the red zone. pic.twitter.com/18vDd03u6a— Joe Rowles (@JoRo_NFL) September 29, 2019
6. Flacco’s gaffe leads to a 6-10 point swing.
Last week Flacco-stans had the wet weather and sloppy conditions to blame for a bad interception. Today there was wind but no rain, and still the 12-year veteran sailed a ball over a wide open crosser to ruin a scoring opportunity.
The #Broncos chance to score at the end of the 1st half ends after Joe Flacco misses a wide open crosser and finds a member of the #Jaguars. pic.twitter.com/iUt7u86VYQ— Joe Rowles (@JoRo_NFL) September 29, 2019
Luckily for the Broncos defense, an illegal hands to the face penalty negates an easy touchdown pass to D.J. Chark.
Sometimes it's better to be lucky than good. The #Broncos don't give up this TD to Chark after an illegal hands to the face penalty. pic.twitter.com/ktN4E6GsGW— Joe Rowles (@JoRo_NFL) September 29, 2019
Jacksonville closed out the first half with a field goal to pull the game within two scores. Considering the fact that Denver had the wind prior to Flacco’s interception it was a near certainty that Brandon McManus would have scored three at the very least.
7. Gardner Minshew and Leonard Fournette owned the third.
Jacksonville opened the second half with a long touchdown drive that ate up a majority of the third quarter. Despite Walker getting to the quarterback and a couple of nice tackles to keep Fournette bottled up, the rookie quarterback pulls magic out of his hat on third and 14, and again for six.
Gardner Minshew breaks the #Broncos defense and the #Jaguars pull within a score. pic.twitter.com/vm3uRfuQeY— Joe Rowles (@JoRo_NFL) September 29, 2019
The Broncos offense responded to the 13-17 score by going three and out, which left the gassed D on the field again with little rest.
Sanders is wide open at the bottom of the screen. pic.twitter.com/H2OP4zpD3V— Joe Rowles (@JoRo_NFL) September 29, 2019
Colby Wadman did his best to pin the Jaguars deep, but Leonard Fournette gashed the Broncos defense for the biggest play of the day.
The gassed #Broncos D gives up an 81-yarder to Fournette after a three and out by the O. pic.twitter.com/dJjzRQtFoX— Joe Rowles (@JoRo_NFL) September 29, 2019
8. The Broncos run game turned none dimensional.
In the second half, the Jaguars took away the Broncos rushing attack, which left Flacco having to do the heavy lifting. It’s going to be something to take a look at this week with Los Angeles looming.
9. The right side of the Broncos run defense is a huge weakness.
By Football Outsider Adjusted Line Yards metric, the Broncos were one of the five worst teams in the league defending runs off of the left tackle going into today. Take a minute to watch more than one or two of Leonard Fournette’s runs and you’ll notice how Jacksonville’s offensive coordinator John DeFilippo went after that weakness time and again. Denver didn’t rise to the occasion.
I suspect they’ll fall to the bottom after the Jaguars repeatedly attacked the right side B-gap. After Chubb went out with a knee injury, the entire right side of the defense had trouble defending the run.
10. Mustangs almost save the day.
After Jacksonville went up by 6, the Broncos needed some Mile High Magic. After the first pass it looked like the game and season were going up in smoke. Sanders pulled up gimpy after a catch. Then he gutted through.
Sanders keeps the #Broncos hopes alive. pic.twitter.com/MlOWantRCE— Joe Rowles (@JoRo_NFL) September 29, 2019
On Denver’s last offensive drive, the SMU duo caught all but one pass and Flacco found Sutton for six to give the Broncos a lead. All they needed was the defense to hold on for one minute.
Courtland Sutton for six. #Broncos take the lead! pic.twitter.com/bhsyzNmob2— Joe Rowles (@JoRo_NFL) September 29, 2019
11. Déjà vu kills drops Denver to 0-4.
Von Miller got a roughing the passer call after his hand got into Gardner Minshew’s face to keep Jacksonville alive. On the next play Duke Dawson couldn’t stop Dede Westbrook and the Jaguars easily marched down into field goal range.
The #Broncos have to have the worst zebra luck in the league this year. pic.twitter.com/YAewMxfMo4— Joe Rowles (@JoRo_NFL) September 29, 2019
They kicked the game winning field goal as the clock died.