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Will the Broncos D ever be able to stop a tight end?

Let’s hope Jared Cook doesn’t have another record-breaking day this week.

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Denver Broncos v. Oakland Raiders Photo by Stephen Lam/Getty Images

Good morning, Broncos Country!

In the midst of the Raiders’ 33-13 meltdown against the L.A. Rams last week, one player remained unfazed and just charged through the mighty Rams’ defense without abandon - tight end Jared Cook.

The 10-year veteran torched the Wade Phillips-led Rams defense with 180 yards on nine catches - which, for the math majors, is a 20-yard average on each catch.

That would seem like an amazing day for the tight end and an embarrassing one for the Rams’ defense...until you read the Broncos’ stat line on covering a rookie tight end named Will Dissly.

That 265-pounder lumbered for 105 yards against the Broncos defense on just three catches.

THREE CATCHES!! (again, for the math majors, that’s an average of 35 yards per catch).

It was a definite lowlight in the Broncos’ win over the Seahawks, and one that better be addressed this week, or the embarrassing Raiders may just show some life in Mile High.

Joseph blamed the 105-yard allowance primarily on “missed tackles” - which has some truth to it considering Dissly is a freight train. But the fact remains that tight ends repeatedly exploit Broncos linebackers and secondary, and Cook just might do the same.

“He’s a mismatch and a great receiving tight end,” said his coach Jon Gruden, speaking to the Denver media by phone. “If you give certain coverages, certain matchups like this game sometimes presents — if you’re lucky enough to have the wild card that can win, you can put in all kinds of plays to help him be a dominant player.”

Raiders’ quarterback Derek Carr knows how dominant Cook can be.

“He can do everything. He can block. He can run routes. He can play the in-line tight end, he can play the full back spots. He does a lot of things for us,” Carr said. “To have the ability to do all of those things, allows us to do our whole offense when he’s in the game. That’s crucial for us to not just be one dimensional.”

Gruden and his quarterback are not wrong, and the Broncos will need an answer for Cook.

The question is, do they have it?

“The tight ends, we haven’t fixed that yet,” coach Vance Joseph said about the perennial Achilles heel to the Broncos’ defense. “That guy had too many big plays on us last week. ...The tight end is going to be a challenge this week. He is a physical mismatch for most safeties, and definitely for backers. We have to have a plan to bracket him and to play a safety over top of him like he’s a receiver. Hopefully we can rush the passer, speed the quarterback up and kind of help us cover these guys. He’s going to be a challenge.”

And if the Broncos don’t contain him?

“It’s going to be a long day for us,” Joseph said. “We have a plan, and hopefully it works to a T on Sunday.”

Rookie Bradley Chubb knows his assignment for that plan.

“Know what he can do and try not to let him do it,” Chubb said. “Whether it’s me guarding or a DB guarding him, dropping the coverage and stuff like that. We’ve just got to make sure we contain him and not let him get too big on us.”

The good news for the Broncos defense is that last season Cook didn’t get too big, only catching one ball for two yards in the second matchup and just three for 46 yards in the first one. So based on that small sample size, at least Cook’s performance is trending down when it comes to the Broncos.

But Cook won’t be the only offensive weapon on the Raiders’ roster that can exploit the Broncos’ defensive weaknesses.

Marshawn Lynch also carries that badge.

Though the running back is old and cantankerous, he can still drag 142 people with him to the end zone.

Inside linebacker Todd Davis recalled having to “gang tackle” Lynch last season to keep him contained - which the Broncos mostly did last season, holding Lynch to just 12 rushing yards in the first outing but 67 on the return matchup.

“He’s a different beast, a different creature,” Davis said, adding that they studied a lot of film on Lynch to learn his running tendencies. “You definitely have to bring all of your weight behind the tackle, and the whole gang has to help. He’s a great runner, and you definitely have to bring it when you tackle him.”

Will Parks called Lynch’s ability to remain upright “ridiculous.”

“I saw the play the other [day] where he dragged the guy seven yards to the end zone. His phenomenal strength is ridiculous,” Parks said. At the end of the day, as long as we worry about us, we should be fine.”

Outside linebacker Shaquill Barrett had some more advice.

“Just gang tackle. Everybody run to the ball, pursue to the ball and just tackle him low,” Barrett said. “When you go up high, he’s just going to keep running and turning those legs. So, go low.”

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