Tim Jenkins and Broncos Country Tonight hosts Ryan Edwards and Benjamin Allbright all agreed that the Broncos’ offensive performance against the Jets on Sunday was “uninspired.”
But that wasn’t a bad thing.
In fact, not “showing their hand” was the right move.
“I don’t want to say they looked flat because I don’t think they were, and the defense was flying around everywhere, but I thought the offense was somewhat underwhelming,” Jenkins said.
And as Allbright and Edwards noted, there was no reason for the offense to score 40 points on the Jets to make a point that wasn’t already made with 26.
“The nice thing is, when you’re underwhelming and just a fumble away from 30 points, that’s a really good day in the National Football League,” Jenkins added.
He described the play calling as “recycled,” noting that that was most definitely by design.
“I think they went into the week saying, ‘we want to get better at these concepts and we don’t want to wholesale change anything because we know we’re going to do that next week against the Ravens’,” he added.
The more interesting question to Jenkins, however, wasn’t so much picking apart the Jets game but trying to figure out what the Broncos will have to do against the Ravens to get a much more difficult-to-come-by win. The Ravens love to blitz and now that the Broncos are down both their speedster wideouts, it presents more of a challenge.
“The first thing I’m watching is the Raiders and seeing what they did with Waller and asking Noah Fant, ‘hey, do you want to prove you’re one of the top tight ends in the NFL? Let’s go do this to them’,” Jenkins said.
He also feels really good about Tim Patrick and is hopeful Courtland Sutton will continue to get back to top form.
“The way Tim Patrick competed for the 50-50 ball, you feel really good about throwing outside go’s to him,” he said. “You need the Spencer kid to step up big in the slot; I feel confident in him but he’s got to do it consistently.”
The Broncos are 1.5 FAVORITES over the Ravens next weekend— Zac Stevens (@ZacStevensDNVR) September 27, 2021
Aside from the obvious downside of not having two of their top three wide receivers available, there’s the issue of reps that will make things a little more difficult for Teddy Bridgewater and the offense this week.
During much of the offseason, training camp and preseason, Tim Patrick and Courtland Sutton were sidelined, so Bridgewater took most of his starter reps with Jerry Jeudy and KJ Hamler. With Jeudy out several weeks and Hamler out for the season now, Bridgewater is losing two of the guys he had the most time to establish timing and chemistry.
“I think it’s super difficult. We take for granted how good those two are,” Jenkins said. “You’re taking away two of the top guys just from a rep perspective.”
But Jenkins has been pleasantly surprised with Patrick.
“He has been a big surprise to me. I didn’t view him as a heavily contested catch guy. But this last Sunday that really stood out. He’s going to go up and get the ball, battle for it, and then you can motion him in on slider and mesh and the stuff he scored on.”
So back to the question of how to beat the Ravens’ penchant for blitzing, Jenkins believes the Broncos have to “get extended.”
While he’d like to see the Broncos in 12 personnel - as the Raiders did in Week 1 - he’d want them to use more spread formations to simplify the box.
“You need to not be in bunch and flank formations,” Jenkins said. “As a quarterback, when you’re going against a team that likes to go Cover Zero (zero deep defenders), the absolute nightmare is a loaded box. Because against bunch and flank sets they can disguise what they’re doing. If you’re in empty or true 2x2 spread, they can’t hide it. If [the pass rush] wants to get home in a reasonable manner - which every D coordinator does at zero - you’ve got to basically show it.”
While Jenkins would love to see more flank and bunch sets in the formation eventually, he doesn’t want the Broncos to do it against the Ravens.
“This week it’s about being as extended as possible so Teddy can really see what the heck is coming at him and then trusting him to dice it up when they do get into zero,” he said. “I think Teddy can. I think the quick game wrinkles [against the Jets] were designed more for next week. Anytime before you play a cover zero team, you’ll see a quick game install.”