It’s looking like Jerry Jeudy will be a go for Sunday’s home game against the Washington Football Team, and everyone - from the quarterback to the coordinator to fans - hopes he can be the spark to get the offense going.
And it needs a spark - especially earlier in the game.
“We’ve seen what Jerry can do as a receiver. We’re excited to get him back,” said offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur on Thursday, noting Jeudy was making a big impact before the injury.
Having Jeudy’s speed - and more importantly ability to get separation - will be important Sunday, especially with a WFT secondary that has shown major cracks despite promise but a defensive front that could wreak havoc on the Broncos’ offensive line.
Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater will need to get the ball out much faster than his average of late - and Jeudy could help in that department.
Shurmur seems to understand that too.
“I think it gives them one more really, really good player to defend. Any defensive coordinator will tell you if there’s zero guys to defend, they’re loving it. If there’s one, two, three or four or five, then they start to—they have to make decisions on how they’re going to cover, and it might open some other things up,” Shurmur said. “We’re looking forward to having Jerry back.”
The question will be whether Shurmur adequately uses Jeudy to spark the offense or if the WFT’s recent defensive woes will make the turnaround against the Broncos - a pattern of late for teams struggling before playing Denver. The Steelers, Raiders and Browns all had issues the Broncos should have been able to use to their advantage.
Sean Keeler of The Denver Post had a depressing stat regarding the Broncos’ offensive performance since 2015.
In the seasons since Peyton Manning was under center for the Broncos, the offense has averaged more than 10 points in the first half just one year - 2019 - under Rich Scangarello.
With Manning at the helm from 2012-2015, the team “never averaged fewer than 11 over the game’s first two quarters,” Keeler pointed out. And during Manning’s barnstormer year in 2013, the team averaged 17.5 points in the first half.
“Sometimes teams just don’t score in the first half.” Dear football gods please save the Broncos pic.twitter.com/EQxkib64M5— ThatsGoodSports (@BrandonPerna) October 28, 2021
In his regular Thursday presser, Shurmur was asked about getting the offense playing in the first half the way it has played in the second half.
The offensive coordinator didn’t have a great answer as to why the second half has been better or what can be done to change the rhythm of the first half. Instead, Shurmur seems poised to continue reacting during the first two quarters before thinking of a game plan.
“You just keep grinding it out. Games are all played differently. Sometimes there’s not much scoring in the first half of games and then all of a sudden halftime comes along and both teams score a lot. I don’t know why that is. I doubt it’s the halftime speeches, but things just get going,” he said. “You get a better feel for things. Maybe adjustments that you were prepared for going in settle in a little better. That’s why there’s 60 minutes and you have to try to utilize all of them.”
Shurmur argued it’s hard to get into a rhythm when the offense only gets 15 plays in the first half, apparently not understanding his role in calling plays that will allow the offense to extend drives and get more than 15 plays.
“We came out in the second half, and we were able to kind of move the ball down the field. I certainly like to get the explosive plays,” he said. “That points to getting points if you get an explosive play within a drive, but there are times when you have to kind of work it down.”
Perhaps Jeudy can provide some explosive plays for this struggling offense to at least keep it on the field and give Denver a chance at scoring.
If Jerry Jeudy's back in the lineup, the Broncos look like they'll have their entire starting offense for the Washington game.— Joe Rowles (@JoRo_NFL) October 28, 2021
The Football Team's defense has been one of the worst in the league.
What is a fair expectation for Pat Shurmur and Teddy Bridgewater?
Bridgewater certainly hopes so.
“When he’s out there, he just finds a way to get open. He runs routes and he communicates with the quarterback with his route running. That’s why I say he’s quarterback friendly,” Bridgewater said Wednesday. “He’s a guy that is easy to throw the ball to.”
That’s exactly what Jeudy tries to do.
“You always want to find a way to help your quarterback be successful,” he said. “As a receiver, a quarterback wants you to be quarterback friendly—show your numbers, be open and know where to be.”
Jeudy’s separation isn’t just speed, it’s intentional route running that becomes a nightmare for defensive backs.
“He’ll be very helpful with just his ability to win. I would say his deceptiveness in his route running—that stands out,” Bridgewater added about what Jeudy brings to the field. “It’ll open some things up for everyone in this offense. ....We’re excited that he’s going to be out there.”