Three keys to the Broncos beating the Texans in Week 2
Sep 15, 2022, 6:11 AM
The Denver Broncos got off on the wrong foot. They lost to the Seattle Seahawks in Week 1 on the road. This week, they return home to the comfy confines of Empower Field at Mile High to take on the Houston Texans in Week 2.
The Texans aren’t as bad as some think. They finished with a tie against the Indianapolis Colts in Week 1, and they do feature some players on both sides of the ball that could be a concern for the Broncos.
Here are three keys to victory in Week 2.
Earlier Wide Receiver Usage
Russell Wilson had 340 yards passing against the Seahawks on Monday Night Football in Week 1. In a game that was close, all the way down to the wire, the Broncos chose to have Wilson throw the ball 42 times. In fact, Wilson came out firing in the first half against the Seahawks, but he was mainly going after the tight ends and running backs. In the entire first quarter of the game against the Seahawks, the Broncos did not throw a single pass to a wide receiver.
I’d like to see the wide receivers mixed in sooner this week. The passes to the tight ends had success but getting guys like Courtland Sutton and Jerry Jeudy into a rhythm is paramount to team success. This team can run the ball early and often (more on that in a bit), so when they go to the air, they need to be efficient. Having Sutton and Jeudy dialed in when crunch time rolls around is something that should be done versus the Texans.
More Carries for Javonte
The Broncos are going to continue to use a running back by committee between Javonte Williams and Melvin Gordon. It’s not the 70-30 split I thought it would be before the start of training camp. These running backs are almost splitting time evenly much like they did last year. In 2021, Gordon was the starter and Williams was the backup. This year, that has been reversed and Williams is the first back on the field for the Broncos.
He had more touches than Gordon last week (18-14), but Williams had only seven rushes in Week 1 compared to Gordon’s 12 carries. That’s got to change for the Broncos. First, Williams doesn’t need 11 catches – that’s just ridiculous. Second, he needs more than seven carries so he can get his timing down and crush the will of the Broncos’ opponent as the game goes on. Finally, Gordon is a good receiver out of the backfield. In fact, I could make the argument that he’s a better and more natural receiver than Williams. Some of those 12 targets at Williams in Week 1 could go in Gordon’s direction this week.
No Simmons, No Problem
We got some bad news this week as it was revealed that safety Justin Simmons has a quad injury and is now on Injured Reserve. This was a surprise for all of us who cover the team. Simmons did not show at any point during the game against the Seahawks that was hurt, and after the game he did not say anything about suffering an injury.
Simmons is dealing with an unspecified thigh injury and will ‘miss some time,’ head coach Nathaniel Hackett said on Wednesday, Sept. 14. Hackett did not give a timetable for return, though. This means Simmons will be out of action for at least four weeks. Against the Texans, Caden Sterns will start opposite of Kareem Jackson. Sterns is a smart and rangy player but filling the shoes of Simmons is a big task. He’s the last line of defense, so Sterns must be cautious not to give up a big play to a speedy wide receiver like Brandin Cooks. The Broncos must make sure that without Simmons, they can still rush as much as they want to and cover about as good as they can with the star safety.