Good morning, Broncos Country.
In case anyone has forgotten - or has somehow been distracted - there’s a pretty big Broncos game this weekend.
Not only is it against a hated rival (one that is thankfully becoming more relevant again as both teams are good), it is also in the “kinda-must-win” category as the Broncos head into a bye next week and need a momentum boost.
But one of the biggest obstacles to that quest will be Raiders’ DE/OLB/LMNOP Khalil Mack.
Broncos fans tend to despise this guy, not just because he’s good, but because he has stolen the Defensive Player of the Year award from Miller.
But the fact is, Mack is a truck, and just like Miller, he could easily disrupt the Broncos’ offensive game plan.
“You have to know where he is every play. You always look out there and see where No. 52 is,” said offensive coordinator Mike McCoy. “Then ask what we need to do. Are we helping him? Is he single blocked? Are they certain progressions that you have to do? You have to have a good mix, so he never knows what’s coming.”
That’s not easy to do with the 6-foot-3, 250-pound linebacker who already has two sacks and 11 tackles plus was named the top edge rusher in the league in Week 1.
“Every team has these pass rushers these days, but his explosion and the way he gets to the quarterback—you watch some of those games when they’re double teaming and he goes right through them,” McCoy said. “He plays with a lot of energy and he continues to push. He doesn’t give up on plays. ...You see him pushing the pocket back and just continuing to go the quarterback. If you hold it too long, he’s going to get to you eventually.”
So that means a pretty big onus is on the Broncos’ offensive line this weekend - especially Menelik Watson who will face off against Mack - and that’s not really great.
“When you’re playing against Khalil and guys like this, you have to be dead-on on how you’re going to pass-set,” McCoy said, noting that such athletic defenses force offensive lines to have good communication to have a shot at defending. “The offensive line has to be dead-on together and have the help of the backs and directing the protections the right way. It’s a challenge every week.”
Thankfully, the Broncos have their own “Khalil” in the form of Von Miller, who is the king of doing damage to an offense. The Raiders have several weapons to give QB Derek Carr some options, and one of the most formidable is former Seahawks’ running back Marshawn Lynch.
“Marshawn Lynch? You just have to get him on the ground,” Miller says, laughing and recalling a time when Lynch dragged No. 58 several yards to a first down. “You just have to get him on the ground. Usually when you get a running back like that, he’ll just fall. Marshawn, he’s definitely ‘Beast Mode.’ They call him that for a reason.”
But the Broncos’ run defense has so far been impressive. In the first three games, the unit that includes Derek Wolfe, Adam Gotsis and Domata Peko Sr. has held three premiere backs - Melvin Gordon, Ezekiel Elliott and LeSean McCoy - to a combined 84 yards on 40 carries, which works out to a meager 1.6 yards per carry.
They’ll be looking to do the same against Lynch on Sunday.
Perhaps one of the tougher matchups on the day will be the Broncos’ secondary versus Michael Crabtree and Amari Cooper.
Cooper hasn’t been much of a factor this year so far for Oakland’s offense, but Crabtree has been the team’s leading receiver with 80+ yards each of the first two games plus three touchdowns in Week 2.
Given the heralded success of the No Fly Zone through the first two games, these receivers and the Broncos’ corners would seem more like a mismatch than a matchup, but last week the NFZ got torched by a couple of lower caliber wideouts, so Aqib Talib and Chris Harris Jr. will have their hands full if Carr is able to get rid of the ball before Miller can take him down.
“I think it’s just about execution,” Woods said of the secondary’s falters last week. “There are some difficult plays with teams that run, but we know that we can cover it. ...I don’t think it has anything to do with the receivers or this or that. I just think we just have to play better.”
Horse Tracks - docllv’s picks of the day
Max Garcia raising awareness for Hurricane Maria relief efforts for Puerto Rico
Max Garcia is working to raise awareness for relief efforts for those affected by Hurricane Maria, including some of his family and friends.
A kid walked into a GameStop wearing a Kaepernick jersey. Two NFL players bought him an Xbox. - The Washington Post
“The first thing I'm thinking is there's some pedophile trying to buy my grandson an Xbox,” said the boy's grandmother, who then learned it was an act of kindness courtesy of Redskins running backs Rob Kelley and Keith Marshall.
Marshawn Lynch up next for Denver's stingy run defense
The Oakland Raiders and Marshawn Lynch are next up for the Denver Broncos' stingy defense
Garett Bolles preparing for the Khalil Mack experience
The rookie will be facing his toughest test of the young season.
That's What They Said: Oakland Raiders HC Jack Del Rio and LB Khalil Mack
Del Rio and Mack spoke to the media Wednesday ahead of the Broncos'
Five Key Matchups: Raiders vs. Broncos
Can Brandon Marshall slow down Marshawn Lynch in the box, or will Lynch run free? The answer could decide Sunday's matchup against the Raiders.
Mike McCoy: Broncos' running game 'can be better,' but so far, so good
Good blocking work from all over the offense and burst from Jamaal Charles and C.J. Anderson has helped the offense make a quantum leap in its production of explosive runs.
Trevor Siemian knows he has to take care of the 'billion dollar football' - Denver Broncos Blog- ESPN
The Broncos are fortunate that turnovers haven't cost them more games so far. But a team with postseason aspirations cannot continue at this pace.
Denver Broncos don't want Marshawn Lynch to enter Beast Mode
The Broncos have fared well against some elite backs so far this season. Now they have to come to grips with the physical Marshawn Lynch.
Broncos hopeful Bradley Roby will be ready to play against the Raiders
Starting cornerback Bradley Roby has been limited in practice again this week but, barring any setback, should be able to play Sunday against Oakland.
Denver Broncos players vote to stand for national anthem - Denver Broncos Blog- ESPN The Broncos wanted to set the record straight that last week's actions "were in no way a protest of the military, the flag or those who keep us safe.
Kiszla: Fans legitimately mad over anthem protests, but mad enough to quit the Broncos? – The Denver Post
Now that the Broncos have decided to stand together for the national anthem, can everybody around here get back to hating the Oakland Raiders, instead of shaking an angry fist at the ungrateful millionaire athletes or our rabble-rousing president?
Myles Garrett returns to Cleveland Browns practice - NFL.com
The NFL draft's No. 1 overall pick made a big step toward making his Browns debut. Cleveland pass rusher Myles Garrett (ankle) returned to practice on Thursday.
That's What They Said: Oakland Raiders HC Jack Del Rio and LB Khalil Mack
Del Rio and Mack spoke to the media Wednesday ahead of the Broncos' matchup with the Raiders Sunday.
Danny Trevathan’s hit on Davante Adams was egregious and the NFL undoubtedly will take notice - The Washington Post
The NFL said in the offseason that the most egregious illegal hits would result in ejections or suspensions.
Sam Bradford (knee) will not play Sunday vs. Lions - NFL.com
The Minnesota Vikings will be without quarterback Sam Bradford (knee) on Sunday as they take on the Detroit Lions. Case Keenum will start his third straight game for Minnesota.
Five things that'll define Week 4: Jags' continued rise? - NFL.com
Conor Orr talks to longtime Jaguars tight end Marcedes Lewis about Jacksonville's 2-1 start. Plus, the Sean McDermott factor in Buffalo, the importance of avoiding the dreaded 0-4 hole and more.
Which player from the ‘Raiders of Old’ is the most hated?
This poll is closed
Jack "The Assassin" Tatum
John Madden (it starts with the coach)
Al Davis (no, it starts with the owner)