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Atwater: ‘Just gotta contain Lamar Jackson’

The Hall-of-Famer knows that’s easier said than done, but he believes the Broncos’ defense can stop Baltimore’s running game, so the biggest hurdle is keeping the quarterback from going sideline to sideline.

Baltimore Ravens v Detroit Lions Photo by Nic Antaya/Getty Images

Before Steve Atwater, Ryan Edwards and Benjamin Allbright got down to brass tax about the Broncos versus the Ravens, there was a little discussion about superstition.

Atwater has been wearing his Hall of Fame jacket for Broncos TV the last three game days and the Broncos have won, so he intends to keep wearing it unless they lose...and then it will go to the cleaners.

Allbright - who claims not to believe in any superstitions - plans to wear his pink suit because the Broncos are 7-0 when he wears it.

Does that sound like a guy without superstitions? Of course not. He claims members of the media have asked for the suit because of its undefeated record, but obviously he’s a little stitious. And I just want to add, that even though I totally know it shouldn’t be a thing, I also completely believe in the power of superstition among athletes (and fans for that matter...I have a certain pair of orange-striped underwear I must have on for game day. Don’t judge).

But the fact is, if a player believes putting his shoes on the same way every game is important, then he must do it or his psyche is all screwed up - and that can ruin good play. As a fan, if you believe wearing a certain jersey or maintaining a certain order of operations on game day helps the Broncos win and you cannot cheer adequately without the same ritual, then who am I - or who is anyone - to question that and potentially ruin a win?

On to the Ravens

When it comes to the Broncos-Ravens matchup on Sunday, Ryan Edwards is confident the Broncos defense can take whatever an opponent throws at them - no matter if it’s the Ravens, Raiders, Chargers, Brown.

“Defensively, back-to-back weeks under 200 yards total offense. With the identity of this team is, they can go toe-to-toe with anybody. No matter what the Ravens, Steelers, Raiders and Browns...whatever they throw at the Broncos, I have a belief the Broncos are going to hang in there.”

Steve Atwater agreed but pointed out that the Ravens will definitely be on a whole different level than the other teams Broncos have faced.

“They’ve got one of the most electrifying quarterbacks in the game right now, they get their tight ends involved in the game heavily and their running backs run hard,” Atwater said, adding he doesn’t think their running backs will fare so well this weekend:

Atwater: “I don’t think they’re going to have any success running the ball.”

Edwards: “Well, that’s all they do; they’re No. 1 in the league.”

Atwater: “I know, but what are we ranked against the run?”

Edwards: “Pretty close to the top.”

Atwater: “Well, there you go.”

But Atwater did acknowledge that Lamar Jackson is a whole different story.

“We just have to contain him,” Atwater said, with the understatement of the day. “He’s got great anticipation of where guys are coming from. His jukes and speed - it’s tough. You’ve got to be swarming to the ball but realize he could throw the ball as well.”

As Edwards noted, the problem with containing Jackson is that a defense could do literally everything right and still come up short.

So what’s the game plan?

“Making sure I contain,” Atwater said, noting that Jackson will definitely “zip up in the middle” sometimes. “I’d much rather him do that than get on the edge where he has endless space to run on the outside. Von Miller, Malik Reed, Jonathon Cooper - they gotta contain, man. That’s going to be vital. If we let him out of the pocket and run sideline to sideline, it’s going to be a long game.”