Three keys to the Broncos getting a win at Baltimore in Week 13
The Denver Broncos don’t have much of a chance on Sunday. They are facing a team who knows who they are and knows how to win with a physical style. Meanwhile, the Broncos have no identity and a head coach in Nathaniel Hackett who is the lamest of lame ducks.
This Sunday, the Broncos travel to take on the Baltimore Ravens in Week 13. These two teams couldn’t be further apart in many aspects. While the Broncos are lost without an identity, the Ravens know exactly who they are and how to win. The Broncos are one of the worst teams in the NFL, and the Ravens are in the upper echelon of teams in the NFL with Super Bowl hopes.
Under head coach John Harbaugh, the Ravens have a standard of winning. It’s what Broncos head coach Nathaniel Hackett looks up to.
“I do. What Coach Harbaugh has done there, he’s an amazing man. From the starting point, I have gotten to talk with him just a couple times and (I have) so much respect and admiration for him. Then you just look at the organization as a whole and how much success they’ve had continuously with different players throughout their entire tenure there. They’re a great organization—great coaching and great organization. They show year in and year out. (I have) so much respect for all of them,” Hackett said.
Here are three keys to victory in Week 13.
Mush Rush Jackson
Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson is a superstar in this game. He is an elite athlete who can attack a defense with his strong arm and his quick feet and legs. Jackson is most known for his rushing ability, and his 755 yards rushing rank no.12 in the league. Most of that list is compiled of the top running backs in the league, but Jackson and Justin Fields (Chicago Bears) are among those top-12 players in rushing yards this season.
Jackson is supremely gifted, and he’s quick enough to make defenders miss in small spaces. When he gets to the open field, Jackson is even more dangerous as defenders find it tough to get a bead on him to make a tackle. In addition to quickness and agility, Jackson is flat out fast. If the hole is there, Jackson is the type of player who can score from anywhere on the field.
He’s underrated as a passer, and Jackson’s rushing ability overshadows what he can do with his arm. Jackson has a rocket arm, and he gets rid of the ball quickly. His pass placement could use some work, but Jackson does have good enough accuracy to hit his weapons for big plays down the field. Since defenses are focused on stopping Jackson as a rusher, his passing lanes are more wide open.
Hackett admits there’s really no way to simulate what Jackson can do in practice with either Brett Rypien or Josh Johnson running the scout team.
“You can’t. You can’t simulate Lamar. He’s a rare, rare talent. We put some guys out there and they try their hardest and it looks good at times and not as good other times. We try to get the best look as we possibly can,” Hackett said.
Shifts, Motion, Personnel
The Ravens have a unique offense, and they’re unlike any other team in the league because of their quarterback, the shifts/motions they use before the snap, and their personnel. Jackson has a unique skill set, and he’s tough to match up against. However, the Ravens do have other players on offense that bring a lot of power and physicality to the field.
Along with Jackson, the Broncos are going to have to deal with the power rushing of starting running back Gus Edwards. He’s a throwback to the power backs of the 70s and 80s, and Edwards has no problem running over defenders often. Edwards is not fast, but he doesn’t waste motion as a runner, and he does a good job of taking what a defense gives him and then getting more after contact.
When Jackson goes through the air, he has one of the best tight ends in the game to throw to early and often. Mark Andrews has become more than a security blanket for Jackson. Andrews is tough to matchup against, and he’s got the speed to attack the deep middle seam. He also knows how to use his size to box out smaller defenders. When the chips are down and Jackson is under pressure, Andrews is the first guy he looks for. The Ravens use Edwards as a hammer, and they use Andrews as a scalpel. They’ll move the formation to keep a defense guessing, and then they’ll attack in a multitude of ways with these top weapons.
Hackett spoke about the uniqueness of Baltimore’s offense.
“We went against them last year. (Ravens offensive coordinator Greg) Roman is very good, especially when it comes to the run game. He is unbelievably dynamic and creative in all the different things that they do—he different personnel groupings, the different motions, different shifts, and the ability to make you have to cover the whole field, whether it be a run alert, whether it be Lamar being able to run, or just a straight downhill run scheme. They just do so many different things to try to get you out of your gaps. I think that’s why they’ve been so successful for so long. It’s a combination of the players that they have and a combination of the coaching that they have that makes them really good,” Hackett said.
It’s time for Broncos wide receiver Courtland Sutton to get pissed. Sutton is a nice guy, but he seems to be lacking that “dawg” mentality that you see in guys like Tim Patrick or K.J. Hamler. Sutton does have it within him, and we saw that last week when he was frustrated with the coverage of Panthers’ cornerback Jaycee Horn. I’d like to see Sutton harness that frustration and take it to the field against opponents tasked with stopping him.
Sutton is seeing everyone’s top cornerback, and sometimes he’s seeing double teams on the football field. The Broncos passing game is not good enough to threaten defenses, so they’re easy to game plan against. Put your best corner on Sutton, and you can force quarterback Russell Wilson to look to more inexperienced players. This is why Sutton needs to take over.
People act like he’s getting doubled all the time, and that’s not the case. Sutton needs to win those 50-50 balls in the air like he used to and like everyone expects him to. Wilson needs players he can rely on, and Sutton is that guy. In fact, I think Sutton is the top guy to do that.
Hackett knows the team must somehow manage to get the ball to Sutton even though he does get the most attention out of the wide receiver group.
“You’re 100 percent right. He definitely gets a lot of attention. He’s a guy that everybody that we’re going to face knows that we want to try to get him involved as much as we can throughout the entire game. That should give some other guys some opportunities that they need to win. We have to try to be as creative as we possibly can to try to get him the ball,” Hackett said.