Week Two Review: Denver Broncos at Jacksonville Jaguars

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Kam Nedd via jaguars.com

I’m not aware of anyone who picked the Jaguars to win Sunday. A rookie quarterback facing a Vic Fangio defense isn’t exactly ideal. There’s an endless list of things I’d love to point out in this article, but I’m going to condense it quite a bit.

Offensively, Sunday was disappointing. There were major mistakes that just shouldn’t have happened. Defensively, there’s plenty to be optimistic about. This unit isn’t exactly Sacksonville circa 2017, but compared to last year’s edition there is major improvement. Logan Cooke is still good, Josh Lambo is still broken, and Jamal Agnew showed why he is considered among the league’s best as a returner.

The film tells the story. Buckle up, Jaguars fans.

Offense

Sunday wasn’t a great day for many offensive players. Trevor Lawrence looked like a rookie trying too hard and struggling to see the field. Laviska Shenault had a day to forget, perhaps the worst outing of his professional career. For all the talk about the team cutting talent at wide receiver, they gained virtually no separation against the Broncos secondary.

That’s not to say there aren’t positives worth pointing out. Even on a bad day, Lawrence made a handful of plays that demonstrate precisely why he’s been lauded by so many for so long as a potentially generational talent. Marvin Jones is proving to be one of the best free agent signings this team has had in recent memory.

The offensive line is a point of major disagreement between the team and the fanbase. On Sunday, at least, the powers that be looked right. Jawaan Taylor had arguably the best game of his career considering he was assigned future Hall of Famer Von Miller most of the afternoon. Not that they are getting the chance to show it often, but the unit is still solid when run blocking too.

Here come’s the film, for all you football nerds.

Sunday was just a brutal day for a player the team relies on so heavily in Shenault. He’s going to bounce back. The team just isn’t good enough to overcome a bad day by a prominent player.

Remember when people tried to act like not giving a rookie quarterback a true threat at the tight end position, or even a reliable safety blanket, was no big deal? Fun times.

Shenault was far from the only skill position player to struggle. Here, Johnson just get bullied by a rookie defensive back who makes a great play resulting in a turnover.

This was Trevor Lawrence’s second worst play of the day in my eyes. He’s as aggressive as they come and unafraid of any throw. This is a good thing. Passing up easy chunk plays for a low probability deep shot is not. Taking what the defense gives him is the biggest area he needs to improve, and quickly.

Whatever caused this hesitation needs to be figured out. It’s very on brand for the Jaguars to turn an easy completion for a big gain into a turnover. There will be plenty of days to show the highlights for the offense. This isn’t one. Too many fundamental issues across the board to justify the silver linings. It was a bad day.

Shout out to the offensive line though. They played very well, all things considered.

Defense

Joe Cullen was a home run hire as defensive coordinator. The improvement against the run is real, and impressive. The unit is near the top of the league in pressure percentage. The secondary is, and will remain, a work in progress.

DaVon Hamilton is a rising star at nose. Josh Allen is playing like the 2019 version of himself. K’Lavon Chaisson is showing legitimate signs of growth. Chaisson still has every chance to become a very good starter in this league.

Myles Jack isn’t playing as consistent as one would expect, but should be fine as his comfort level grows in the new scheme. The overall success of the defense hinges on the development of guys like Cj Henderson, Tyson Campbell and Andre Cisco. Until they are consistently good, the secondary won’t be.

Hamilton is good, y’all. Very good.

Right now, communication is a much bigger area of concern for the Jacksonville defense than talent. The development of the trio I mentioned above, and the return of Tre Herndon, should help tremendously.

Mobile quarterbacks are poison to a blitz heavy, man coverage centric defense like the one employed by Cullen. The Jaguars have opened the season against two quarterbacks very capable of escaping pressure and extending plays. *Checks Week Three schedule* More about that in another article….

What Have We Learned?

Some fans drank the Kool Aid and wore the teal shaded glasses and believed the addition of Trevor Lawrence alone could elevate this team from 1-15 to the playoffs. Others think the sky is falling, Urban Meyer is a few more losses away from a medical episode and a change in location from Florida to California. Neither is true.

The reality is this team isn’t very good. They are young, in their first year in new schemes offensively and defensively, and need more talent on both sides of the ball to join the ranks of contenders. Focusing so heavily on role players and special teams in free agency was a half measure for a team loaded with salary cap and a stark lack of game changing talent.

Try to enjoy the rest of the season. Adjust your expectations. Trevor Lawrence is going to be incredible. The team will improve as the season progresses. The Denver Broncos are a better football team than the Jacksonville Jaguars, yet the game could have easily gone Jacksonville’s way.

If you are interested, check out my Twitter feed for a more thorough review of the game. It might be surprising how many game changing plays that could have drastically altered the game were left out on the field. Check back in later today or early tomorrow for the preview of Sunday’s contest with the Arizona Cardinals!

It’s a long season folks. The Jaguars are 0-2. Breathe. 15 more weeks of Jaguars football awaits.

Week Two Preview: Jacksonville Jaguars Host the Denver Broncos

Week One brought it’s fair share of surprises for fan bases all across the league. Move on. Let it go. You’ll be happier for it. It is a long season. There’s no reason to dwell on the Jacksonville Jaguars poor showing against the Houston Texans when there’s sixteen more chances at heartbreak and disappointment! Kidding, kind of, hopefully.

Tale of the Tape

Denver Broncos (1-0)

  • 420 Total Yards
  • 6.4 Yards per play, 5.9 yards per carry
  • 7/15 on 3rd downs, 3/3 on 4th downs
  • 0 Turnovers
  • Gave up just 3 yards per carry and 314 Total

Jacksonville Jaguars (0-1)

  • 395 Total Yards
  • 5.8 yards per play, 4.8 yards per carry
  • 3/11 on 3rd down
  • -3 Turnovers
  • Gave up 3.9 yards per carry, 449 Total Yards

The Jacksonville Jaguars hold the advantage in the all time series record against the Denver Broncos 6-5

A Look at the Opposition

Von Miller during the Broncos' Week 1 game against the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey, on September 12, 2021. (Photo by Gabriel Christus)
Photo credit: Gabriel Christus via denverbroncos.com

The Denver Broncos have one of the best defenses in football. Von Miller is one of the best pass rushers in NFL history. Bradley Chubb is a fantastic player on the other side. It has taken an injury to get top 10 pick Patrick Surtain II into the starting lineup in the secondary.

The defense is fast, physical and disciplined. Vic Fangio’s unit is masterful at disguising different coverages and blitzes. This is a tough, tough match up for any offense, particularly one led by a rookie quarterback. Keep an eye on Safety Justin Simmons, one of the very best at his position in the league right now.

Offensively, the Broncos are a different team with Teddy Bridgewater under center than the inconsistent Drew Lock. Bridgewater is much more suited to run Pat Shurmer’s offense and it was clear most of the offseason he was the preferred choice of the coaching staff. He rewarded their confidence with a 264 yard, two touchdown game with, most importantly, no turnovers.

Courtland Sutton is still working his way back to form from an ACL injury, but he is very dangerous. Noah Fant is a match up nightmare at the tight end position. KJ Hamler is a house call threat every time he touches the football. Rising star Jerry Jeudy will be out several weeks with an ankle injury.

The offensive line may be down a starter in Graham Glasgow, but the unit is solid. The running back duo of Melvin Gordon and rookie Javonte Williams is probably one of the best tandems in the NFL. Simply put, this Denver Broncos roster is very good. Many believe they are a franchise quarterback away from being legitimate Super Bowl Contenders.

Key Battles

As with any game, there are a few critical match ups that will have a drastic impact on the outcome and overall quality of the game. Let’s take a look at 5 key battles between the Broncos and Jaguars.

  • Cam Robinson and Jawaan Taylor vs. Bradley Chubb and Von Miller
  • Tyson Campbell vs. KJ Hamler
  • Jaguars front 7 vs. Broncos backs Melvin Gordon and Javonte Williams
  • DJ Chark/Marvin Jones vs. Patrick Surtain II
  • DaVon Hamilton vs. Lloyd Cushenberry

Final Thoughts and Predictions

The Jacksonville Jaguars are coming off of a rough start to the season, performing poorly in a game they were expected to be competitive and able to win. They have to prove they can avoid beating themselves with mental mistakes and drive killing penalties. James Robinson must be able to get going, early and often.

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Kam Nedd via jaguars.com

The offensive line allowed just one sack on almost fifty pass attempts, but the right side in particular didn’t exactly play well. For this contest to remain competitive, the unit must have a good day at the office. Dropped passes are another theme from Houston that cannot carryover.

Defensively, all eyes will be on Tyson Campbell with Tre Herndon officially ruled out by the team. He needs to put together a consistent game and reward the faith the team has shown him. The defense has said it’s game plan is to take away the running game and put the ball in Bridgewater’s hands. DaVon Hamilton, Damien Wilson and Myles Jack will determine if that happens or not.

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Kam Nedd via jaguars.com

Overall, this is bad match up for a young Jaguars team. It’s not unwinnable by any stretch of the imagination, but what have the Jaguars done to earn a vote of confidence? Nothing. Perhaps I’d feel differently if they had performed to the level I expected last week. Trevor Lawrence is good enough to win these types of games, and at the very least, keep them in it.

Ultimately, the Jacksonville Jaguars are who they are until they aren’t. The franchise is beyond any moral victories. Their record says there are 0-1. I expect Teddy Bridgewater to play mistake free football and for the Broncos to leave Jacksonville 2-0. Broncos win, 33-24.

Denver Broncos Week 2 Preview

Credit: Dennis Schneidler-USA TODAY Sports

The Broncos won the season opener for the first time in three years. Now they are on to Jacksonville to play the winless Jaguars. There are some key factors to consider in this game for the Broncos to pull off another win.

Injuries

An important component in this game is going to be injuries for the Broncos. Wide receiver Jerry Jeudy and cornerback Ronald Darby will be out multiple weeks with their respective injuries, so the depth of this Broncos roster will immediately be tested. Luckily, Denver can turn to their first-round pick from 2021 in Pat Surtain II to fill Draby’s starting spot. At wide receiver, the Broncos have plenty of depth from Tim Patrick to KJ Hamler to help fill the void left by Jeudy’s injury.

The other players that may possibly miss Sunday’s contest are Graham Glassgow (heart) and Bradley Chubb (ankle). Glassgow is still undergoing testing for his irregular heartbeat. If he is unable to play then Netane Muti will take his place at right guard. Bradley Chubb is still recovering from his offseason ankle surgery and the coaches are optimistic he plays against the Jaguars.

One last injury to keep an eye on is Shelby Harris (wrist) who has been limited in practice this week but should play this week.

Matchups

The Jaguars are coming off a disappointing season opener against the Texans, losing 37-21. The Texans are seen as having one of the worst rosters in the NFL, which makes the loss that much worse. Trevor Lawrence, the Jaguars’ star rookie quarterback, was less than stellar. He was ranked the 29th quarterback by Pro Football Focus in week one and the matchup this week against a defensive coach like Vic Fangio does not bode well for the young QB.

The Jaguars defense also struggled in week one, giving up 160 rush yards. The Broncos should be able to take advantage of the poor run defense with a combination of Melvin Gordon and Javonte Williams. The Broncos averaged 5.9 yards per rush in week one against the Giants.

One of the only bright spots for the Jaguars in week one was their wide receiving core. Marvin Jones, DJ Chark, and Laviska Shenault Jr. combined for 15 receptions and 213 yards against the Texans. The Broncos secondary will certainly have their hands full covering the Jaguars’ talented receivers.

Final Thoughts

It is still unknown how the Jaguars’ inexperienced coaching staff and young personnel will bounce back in week two, but Denver looked solid on both offense and defense last week. With a strong Broncos defensive performance predicted and a solid outing from the running backs, the Broncos could win this game by double digits.

Prediction: 24 – 13 Broncos

Broncos Name Teddy Bridgewater Starting QB

(AP Photo/Jason Redmond)

The quarterback competition in Denver is over – Teddy Bridgewater was named the Broncos’ starting quarterback. Head Coach Vic Fangio announced to the team this morning that Bridgewater would be the first-string quarterback to start the year. This ends the quarterback competition that started back in April when the Broncos traded a sixth-round pick for Teddy Bridgewater.

Bridgewater will be the fourteenth different starting quarterback for the Broncos since 2011. He will have the benefit of working with the best offensive line the Broncos have had in at least five seasons according to Garett Bolles. Teddy will also work with a loaded receiving core and a defense that, by all accounts, will be at least top ten in the league. This will certainly be the most talented team that Bridgewater has started full-time for in his eight-year career.

What does this mean for Drew Lock?

Drew Lock will certainly be a valuable backup for the Broncos. In the NFL, having a solid backup quarterback is extremely helpful – just ask the 2019 Philadelphia Eagles.

As far as the future of the third-year quarterback, that is yet to be determined. If the coaches decided to start Bridgewater over Drew Lock, that means that Lock most likely did not progress the way they wanted him to. Essentially, his chances of being a part of the Broncos future is now close to zero. If the Broncos had any hope that he could be the future franchise quarterback, then they would have started him this year. This is most likely the end of the road for Lock in a Broncos uniform.

What does it mean for the future of the Broncos?

With Teddy Bridgewater on a one-year deal currently and Drew Lock not progressing enough to be the franchise quarterback going forward, the Broncos are without a future quarterback again. Thus, the QB carousel in Denver continues.

It is possible that Bridgewater plays well enough this season and gets rewarded a contract for the future with the Broncos. However, any Broncos fan knows how giving an average journeyman QB a sizable contract works out (see Joe Flacco and Case Keenum).

Sure, it would be great if the Broncos make the playoffs this year with Teddy Bridgewater and maybe even win a game or two in those playoffs, but in the long-term Teddy Bridgewater is just a bridge quarterback. There is a reason the Saints, Jets and Panthers let Teddy go and that the Broncos only had to trade a sixth-round pick for the veteran QB.

Final Thoughts

The bottom line is this: the Broncos coaches think that for this season Teddy Bridgewater gives the Broncos the best chance to win. It will certainly be exciting watching the Broncos compete in 2021 and win games with Bridgewater as the Broncos starting quarterback. However, there are still question marks for the future of the QB position now that Lock is out of the picture. We will have to hope that GM George Paton has a plan at the quarterback position for 2022 and beyond, but in the meantime all of Broncos Country will be rooting for Teddy Bridgewater to succeed.

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The Denver Broncos Open Quarterback Competition: Good or Bad?

(AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

According to Vic Fangio, the Denver Broncos quarterback competition between Teddy Bridgewater and Drew Lock for this season is “50/50”. This was the plan from the Broncos front office and coaching staff since they traded for Bridgewater in April – to have the two quarterbacks battle it out in a completely even competition. The Broncos’ coaching staff has even gone so far as to make sure each quarterback gets exactly even reps in practice with the ones and twos and each quarterback will start one preseason game as well. However, there are some reasons this might not be the best approach from the Broncos front office and coaching staff.

Strategy

The biggest reason this “50/50” training camp battle might not be the best approach is from a strategic perspective. From a tactical perspective, there is only one good outcome from this completely open quarterback battle approach: Drew Lock wins outright. If Lock wins the competition by truly playing better than Bridgewater, then the Broncos get to play Lock to start the season and finally put to rest if he is the future quarterback for the Denver Broncos or not. The organization and fans would get to see Drew Lock in the same offensive system for two years in a row and with great pieces all around him to see what his ceiling truly is. If Lock does not take the next step in that scenario, then it is easy to see that the Broncos need to move on and look for the next franchise quarterback. Also, if Lock does start the first several games and clearly shows that he has not progressed, then it is easy to turn to the savvy veteran in Teddy Bridgewater to finish out the season. Unfortunately, the odds of a young quarterback like Lock outshining a solid eight-year veteran like Teddy Bridgewater in training camp are not good, so this scenario is not likely to play out.

The other outcomes would be that neither QB outshines the other, or that Teddy Bridgewater wins the competition. Both of those scenarios are bad news for the Broncos. In the scenario that neither quarterback shines, that means Lock has most likely not taken that next step in his progression. It also means the team is not very confident to rally around whoever is picked as the starter.

In the last scenario of Bridgewater winning the competition, then the Broncos’ coaching staff has a conundrum. Either they start the 28-year-old journeyman QB, or they go against their word and start Drew Lock anyway. Starting Lock in that scenario causes you to lose trust from the players. Meanwhile, starting Bridgewater to start the season is not a good solution either. First, if Bridgewater struggles to start the season, then it makes it tough to turn to a deflated Drew Lock. At that point Lock will have most likely lost his confidence after losing the QB battle. Next, you never get to see what Drew Lock’s true ceiling is if Bridgewater starts the whole season.

So, from a strategic perspective, the open QB competition is not a good approach because the only good outcome – Drew Lock clearly winning the QB competition – is not a very likely outcome.

Mental Aspect

There is something to be said for the mentality of an athlete. Any athlete performs at their best when they are playing with confidence. I would argue that having an open QB competition that is “truly 50/50” is not great for the mentality of a young struggling quarterback like Drew Lock. Lock already struggled with confidence last year at some points and having every play and every throw magnified by media, players, coaches and fans in training camp and preseason is not going to help the young gunslinger improve.

Final Analysis

There is no question that the Broncos needed to bring in a veteran quarterback. Having a veteran quarterback on the roster like Teddy Bridgewater paired with a young QB like Lock helps to build knowledge in the young QB room and provides a hedge in case Lock does not improve. So, the decision to trade for Bridgewater was a good one from GM George Paton. However, the decision to have a completely open quarterback competition is a miscalculated move by the Broncos front office and coaching staff. They did not have to state that the Broncos QB battle was completely open in order to have healthy competition between Teddy Bridgewater and Drew Lock. The competition would occur naturally if the Broncos would have still named Drew Lock as the starter going forward. That approach would also eliminate some of the mental pressure for Lock and would ensure that none of those worst-case scenarios as stated earlier actually get to play out.