botas de mujer ugg australia Broncos at Jaguars
The Broncos have pinpointed their inability to close out games in the fourth quarter but it’s difficult to imagine that those problems will be rectified on Monday night against a hungry Jaguars team.
The simple fact is that Denver head coach Mike Shanahan must deal with his offense’s inability to make plays in critical junctures. In last week’s loss to Kansas City, the Broncos converted just 2 of 13 third downs and they went three and out on 5 of 14 series.
While QB Brian Griese isn’t the entire problem, his propensity to turn the ball over inside the 20 is the biggest reason the team’s red zone touchdown percentage is in the bottom third of the league. In five of Griese’s nine starts, the Broncos have scored one touchdown or less, a daunting fact considering the Jaguars’ defense is on pace to break the league record for points allowed in a season.
The common theme in Denver victories all season has been big plays in the passing game. Griese has been dinking and dumping too often and he needs to go up top to WR’s Ed McCaffrey and Rod Smith with greater frequency. Jacksonville DCs Aaron Beasley and Fernando Bryant are playmakers who benefit from the pressure created by the front seven.
Denver needs to give Griese enough time to let his receivers work on Bryant with some double moves early in the game. A polished route runner like McCaffrey could make something happen on the perimeter, which would slow down Jacksonville’s aggressive pass rush.
The Broncos’ offensive line and FB Howard Griffith need to be aware of MVP candidate Tony Brackens at all times. The Jags like to move Brackens and OLB Kevin Hardy around at different positions along the line to find positive individual matchups. With corners and safeties blitzing from the secondary, OT’s Tony Jones and Matt Lepsis could have a hard time diagnosing who’s actually coming off the edge and who’s dropping into coverage.
Denver’s ground game was working well last week but Shanahan was forced to abandon it too early because down and distance situations dictated they throw the ball. RB Olandis Gary, who rushed for a respectable 61 yards on 14 carries last Sunday against the Chiefs, must be a workhorse on Monday. The Broncos mixed it up a week ago, giving FB Howard Griffith (2 att., 19 yds.) a couple of carries in the second quarter.
With few other options in a vanilla ground game, look for the Broncos to rely on these two players to dictate the tempo of the game. The Broncos need to establish a ball control attack in order to keep Jacksonville’s suddenly resurgent offense on the sidelines.
Jacksonville offense vs. Denver defense
It’s no coincidence that the Jaguars offense started to get on track at the same time that QB Mark Brunell’s rib injury began to heal. Jacksonville’s up tempo, fastbreak approach has translated into 50 points the past two weeks against a pair of formidable defenses (Pittsburgh and Baltimore).
Look for the Jags to spread the field with an array of multiple receiver sets, often flexing TE Damon Jones wide and using their running backs in the slot. WR’s Jimmy Smith and Keenan McCardell have feasted on some inexperienced cornerbacks the past two weeks, each recording a pair of 100 yard games in those victories. That run will end on Monday night when they lineup across from vets Ray Crockett and Dale Carter.
The Broncos, who are surrendering only 186.4 yards per game through the air, will play plenty of press coverage on the outside in order to disrupt the timing that Brunell is starting to develop with his “go to” guys.
Another key player for the Jaguars will be TE Damon Jones, who has been forced to assume a greater role with starter Kyle Brady sidelined with a hamstring injury. Jones can’t afford to fatigue playing every snap against tight end killer OLB Bill Romanowski. Though it’s hard to foresee him posting huge numbers, Jones must at least pose a threat between the hashes to prevent the safeties from overplaying the outside receivers,
especially deep threat Smith.
The Jags are hoping the 11 day layoff will give RB Fred Taylor’s sore hamstring enough time to heal. Taylor has been de activated the past three games and the Jags running game, while productive, has lacked a big play element. In all likelihood, Taylor will split some carries with grinder James Stewart, who became the first running back all season to record a 100 yard game against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
The key to the Stewart Taylor combo will be the play of interior linemen LOG Ben Coleman, OC John Wade, and ROG Zach Wiegert. This inside trio played by far its best game of the season against the Steelers’ dominant front seven. Their test this week will be controlling DTs Trevor Pryce and Keith Traylor.
The Broncos played much too soft last Sunday against the Chiefs, as they were gauged for 177 yards by a collection of average running backs. Kansas City surprised the Broncos by throwing the ball early 26 times in the first half to set up draws and the inside run game.
The Broncos must do a better job of gap control up front and the linebackers and secondary need to tackle much better than they did a week ago. Defensive coordinator Greg Robinson was embarrassed by his team’s sloppy effort and will have a “quick hook” on Monday if he sees any lethargic play.
Jacksonville head coach Tom Coughlin fumed about the play of his special teams following the team’s victory over the Steelers. Upset with some poor field position, look for Coughlin to move some starters into more prominent roles on coverage teams this week. If he doesn’t rectify problems against the Broncos, kickoff specialist Steve Lindsay will be in jeopardy of losing his job. Lindsey and P Bryan Barker, who averaged just 29.6 yards on five attempts versus Pittsburgh, have struggled, and the team can’t afford to give the Broncos’ struggling offense quality field position on Monday. Denver RS Chris Watson, who is eighth in the league kickoff returns with a 24.1 average, is in a mini slump and needs to energize his team on Monday. Jacksonville PK Mike Hollis and Denver counterpart Jason Elam are both extremely accurate and have each hit from beyond 50 yards this season.
Denver TE Byron Chamberlain vs. Jacksonville OLB Kevin Hardy
Chamberlain will be the hot read for Denver when Hardy is sent on the blitz but this one on one matchup will play itself out plenty over the course of the game. Chamberlain has lost his starting job to Dwayne Carswell but the team still needs his athletic ability between the hashes.
Denver OC Dan Neil vs. Jacksonville DT Gary Walker
Neil must rely on his quickness to prevent Walker from penetrating against the run. Walker’s one gap strengths have been a perfect fit for the Jags system since coming over from Tennessee and he is now playing like one of the top DTs in the AFC.
Jacksonville FB Daimon Shelton vs. Denver MLB Al Wilson
The Jaguars running game has tailed off because of RB Taylor’s recent struggles. Shelton cannot afford to lunge on his isolation blocks against the rookie because Wilson is excellent at avoiding contact in traffic. Wilson and the rest of the linebacker corps must do a better job of tackling this week for the Broncos to stay competitive.
QB Griese can recognize the blitz and get the ball away quickly. Opponents have had great success against Griese when they rattle him early. Look for defensive coordinator Dom Capers to go after him with a number of fire and zone blitzes to disrupt his timing.
They can stop the run and force the Jaguars offense to beat them with just one dimension. Despite their recent success through the air, the Jaguars are beatable when defenses aren’t constantly guessing. The Broncos’ front seven could have a tough time slowing down RB Stewart, who rushed for 145 yards the last time out against Pittsburgh.
RB Gary runs tough in the red zone. Without TE Shannon Sharpe, Denver has seen its red zone touchdown percentage dip to 44.1. The key to their success inside the 20 on Sunday will be Gary’s ability to pick up consistent positive yardage.
DC’s Bryant and Beasley hold up in man coverage. In order to implement their full blitz package, the Jags must neutralize WR’s McCaffrey and Smith on the outside. Look for the Broncos to take a couple of deep shots early to force the corners to give a softer cushion in man coverage.
They have success in the intermediate passing game. QB Brunell must get TE Jones involved because of the RB’s lack of presence in the passing game. OLB Romanowski will be tough to pick on but Jones could have some success over the middle against OLB Cadrez,
who has not played up to his ability the past month or so. Jones is a pivotal player with Kyle Brady out of the lineup.