ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — A capacity crowd ready to unleash from its pent-up pandemic isolation. Its home team Broncos are 2-0. The Broncos are 2-0 and seem to have a winning quarterback. And the opponent is the lowly New York Jets, who are led by a turnover-prone rookie.
It’s difficult to believe the Broncos will lose on Sunday, no matter how guarded their coach and player comments were this week. Then again, the NFL has had bigger upsets over the years.
Here are 5 recommendations the Broncos should follow if they want to put a 3-0 record in the bank before taking on their ensuing four-week gantlet of the Ravens, Steelers, Raiders and Browns:
1. Better protect Teddy
Yes, Broncos quarterback Teddy Bridgewater extends plays when rushed, making him vulnerable to the sack. Still five sacks in two games is too many. And Bridgewater is a quick-decision QB or there would have been more.
2. Give Von company at the QB
The Denver D has three sacks this year, all by outside linebacker Von Miller. Jets’ rookie QB Zach Wilson, meanwhile, has taken 10 sacks in two games. This might be a good week for Vic Fangio to call a few more blitzes than he usually does, especially on third down.
3. Mix up coverages
Broncos safety Justin Simmons has said the best part about playing rookie quarterbacks is you can confuse them. Wilson, the No. 2 overall pick in this year’s draft, has thrown an NFL-most five interceptions through two games, tied with Jacksonville’s Trevor Lawrence, the No. 1 overall draft pick. Show man-to man, pre snap, then drop to a zone after the hike. And vice versa. Fangio does this as well as any defensive play caller.
4. Protect the backups turned starters
Rookie cornerback Pat Surtain II had a nice interception last week. But he also got beat a time or two. Make sure he has safety help. The Broncos love Justin Strnad and believe he will duly replace Josey Jewell at inside linebacker. But for a game or three, he might be thinking more than reacting.
No worries with Malik Reed replacing Bradley Chubb at outside linebacker or receiver Tim Patrick stepping up for Jerry Jeudy. Reed and Patrick are established starters. The Jets can run the ball, though, and they will likely run at Reed, if only because Miller is on the other side.
5. Show up hungry
The Broncos can’t go into this game thinking they’re 10 ½ points better than the Jets, whose tailback trio of Michael Carter, Ty Johnson and Tevin Coleman combined for 133 yards rushing against the Patriots last week. If Wilson avoids turnovers, the Jets will have a chance.
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