A lot may hinge on the outcome of this game. For the Denver Broncos, for head coach Nathaniel Hackett, for Bradley Chubb, and for Broncos Country. Or... it may not. Despite a week full of media speculation, we can’t be sure what shapes the fallout may take regardless of victory or defeat.
But victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars is the goal. So let’s take a look at the 3 key boxes that the boys in
Orange & Blue White & Blue need to check to ensure victory in their contest across the pond.
#1: Get quality play from the guy under center.
As has been the case for nearly a month now, the biggest thing the Broncos need to do to start getting right is to actually live up to some of those preseason expectations on offense. But since it gets old saying it the same way every week, let’s address the most important issue within that problem: the quarterback.
Last week, with Brett Rypien stepping in for an injured Russell Wilson at QB, the Broncos’ offense looked... basically the same. Some fans and analysts take that to mean that coaching and playcalling are the issue. And while I certainly agree that coaching and playcalling are both an issue, I’ve got to politely disagree. All else being equal (in other words, the same coaches and the same playcalling), you should still be able to see a stark difference between a 9x Pro Bowl QB and his backup who has spent 4x as much of his career as QB3 than he has as QB2.
Wilson has been roundly criticized for his play this season, and often more than simply criticized. But while he’s been a disappointment so far, the Broncos are financially tied to him for several years. As fans we’ve got a vested interest in hoping he turns it around. So lets cross our fingers and hope that a week off helps this be the game that Wilson & the offense start clicking.
#2: Slow down the Jaguars’ offense.
This one is a bit of a softball, because this 2022 Broncos defense has been slowing down every offense it faces. But it’s still going to be important to keep the Jags’ score a TD or two lower than their season average if we want to win. Where the Broncos have scored more than 16 points just once in 7 games to date, the Jaguars have done so 6 times out of 7.
Therefore, the math is pretty simple. If the defense allows the Jaguars to do what they normally do, the odds are very high that Denver heads home 2-6. Because while better QB play and therefore better offensive output is the most important key to winning, it’s certainly not one that we can count on right now.
So here’s hoping that the secondary has another great game against Trevor Lawrence and that the D-line is up to the task of preventing Travis Etienne from having a breakout in his first week as Jacksonville’s undisputed bellcow RB.
#3: Keep mistakes and penalties down.
Credit where credit is due, the Broncos kept their penalties to a relative minimum versus the Jets. After an abysmal 10 penalty, 151 penalty yard performance against the Los Angeles Chargers, they restrained themselves to 4 penalties for 34 total yards against the Jets. That was especially nice in contrast to the Jets’11 penalties for 85 yards.
And then we lost the game because a blocker got blocked into returner Montrell Washington, causing him to muff a punt and set the Jets up with a game-deciding short field. Personally, I think that rule needs to change. Pushing a player into the returner should null the punt with a 10 yard penalty against the punting team. But it is what it is.
When this Broncos team isn’t shooting itself in the foot with penalties, it’s just shooting the other foot- the one labelled “Stupid Mistakes”. If the offense was better, even just average, that wouldn’t matter all that much. But the offense isn’t good enough to give the team that kind of leeway. It’s got to stop.