Week 4 Game Recap: Denver Broncos 20, Jacksonville Jaguars 7
What you need to know
The Broncos played a very solid game in most facets of the game against the Jaguars. Despite two early missed field goals by their kicker, Jason Elam, the Broncos rallied to win the game comfortably.
The Denver running game was one of the keys to their offensive success, as Mike Anderson and Tatum Bell combined for 175 rushing yards against Jacksonville’s normally stout run defense. The effectiveness of the running game was evident in the two touchdowns Denver scored. Both touchdown plays began inside the five yard line, with Jake Plummer faking a handoff to the running back and throwing passes to reserve offensive lineman and former tight end Dwayne Carswell who caught them both for touchdowns.
Plummer distributed the ball among ten different receivers, with Rod Smith receiving the most passes thrown his way, with six targets. Ashley Lelie was targeted in the end zone once, but did not have a chance to catch the ball due to his defender being called for a pass interference penalty. On the next play, Plummer threw one of his touchdown passes to Carswell.
The Jaguars began the game playing very aggressively on defense, but their offense could not remain on the field, and as a result their defense was worn down by Denver’s running game. Jacksonville’s offense was victimized by multiple penalties during the game, including three false starts on their first three drives.
Jacksonville was unable to generate a running game, and as a result Byron Leftwich was faced with relentless pressure when he dropped back to pass. Jacksonville did not score any points in the first half.
The lone highlight came when Jimmy Smith turned a short pass from Leftwich into a 45 yard touchdown catch and run. Smith made several defenders miss then outran another one to the end zone for the Jaguars’ only score in the game.
Most of Leftwich’s 240 passing yards came in the second half and, other than Smith’s touchdown catch, came in the latter stages of the game when Denver’s defense played more conservatively and gave up short passes.
What you ought to know
|QB Jake Plummer, Pass: 19 - 26 - 136 - 2 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 3 - -3 - 0|
Plummer did a good job of managing the game. He took advantage of the running game and usually attempted safer, mid-range throws. On the few occasions he threw deep, he either did not have much time to throw, or the pass was well defended by the Jaguars’ defensive backs. He knew where he wanted to go with the football, and usually got rid of the ball quickly and accurately, though usually on shorter throws. In this game, Plummer was not asked to air it out a lot, which resulted in his low passing yardage numbers.
Brock Osweiler finally received his first action of the season when the Broncos were up by 36 points against Philadelphia. He had limited opportunities, but he managed to show reasons for guarded optimism while simultaneously reminding that he is not Peyton Manning. He did a very nice job avoiding pressure and making plays with his legs, dancing out of a sack to convert a 3rd-and-3 on the ground. He also managed to guide Denver to a field goal to break the franchise record for points in a single game, and on Denver's final drive Osweiler converted two of Denver's three first downs with his arm as the Broncos ran out what was left of the clock.
|RB Mike Anderson, Rush: 23 - 115 - 0, Rec: 3 - 27 - 0 (3 targets)|
Anderson ran very well in the game, showing both power between the tackles and a burst that got him into the Jacksonville secondary several times. He also displayed good hands and converted all of his receiving opportunities into positive gains. Anderson was used three times on plays that required two or fewer yards for a first down, and was given the ball on a first and goal play from the nine yard line.
|RB Tatum Bell, Rush: 15 - 60 - 0, Rec: 1 - 6 - 0 (3 targets)|
Bell took good advantage of his running opportunities, and was almost as productive as Anderson in terms of yards per carry. He ran decisively and usually required more than one defender to bring him down. He spelled Anderson in both halves of the game and was utilized both between the tackles and on plays designed to go outside.
Dayne gained his three yards on one carry up the middle in a short yardage situation.
Sapp was used as an outlet receiver once in the second half.
Johnson was involved as a pass receiver just once, as an outlet receiver.
He was in the game late once it was out of hand. He had a nice gain to make a first down but on the next play he alligator armed a pass where you wish he would have made the reception but he heard footsteps from A.J. Hawk.
Ball continued his trend of staying on the sidelines while Denver is building a lead, coming in only at the end to salt the game away. Ball had a forgettable day against Philadelphia, not entering the game until Denver had a 36-point lead and immediately seeing the drive stall out after a pair of runs for no yardage, although Ball did come back in on the final drive and was able to get consistent yardage as Denver converted three final first downs to run out the clock.
Active for a 2nd consecutive week (in place of the soon-to-be-cut Moreno perhaps?), the blowout allowed Hillman to get even more involved in the game. 2nd on the team with 10 carries, Hillman didn’t break any huge runs. However, Hillman did show a capacity to attack the hole and pick up the tough two and three yards. His best run came on a cutback, where after pressing a closed hole, Hillman cut right and was able to use his speed run away from the end and LB to pick up 12 yards. Hillman’s biggest play came on a relative harmless dump-off, and was finally able to flash his potential as a game breaker. Taking the short pass, Hillman (who had his back to the tackler) made one quick move, turning to his left and left the potential tackler in his dust. Without losing a step or any speed, Hillman made one small cut on the sideline and left another tackler with a now poor angle before he was finally taken down after picking up 29 yards. Hillman also notably picked up a blitzer, allowing Manning to complete a pass downfield to Stokley (well before the game was out of hand).
Smith made the most of the passes that came his way, which were usually of the short to intermediate variety. He showed he still runs his routes well as he was able to get himself open for the receptions he made, by separating himself from his defender. However, he did not have many yards after the catch.
Adams was used twice in the game, once on a reverse, which he ran for 13 yards. And on one target which he pulled in for a nine yard gain.
Lelie was not targeted much as Denver relied on their running game and the shorter passing game, more than the deep pass. When Lelie was involved in the passing game, he was thrown to deep, but without success. He was the first option on a second and goal play from the seven yard line, but the Jaguars’ defender was called for pass interference and did not give him a chance to catch the ball.
Thomas felt invisible on the field on Sunday as he connected
with Orton only once. The rookie seemed to struggle with getting any
significant separation, and while Orton targeted him a few times, he
never looked truly open. He did not get much attention from Orton who
was looking elsewhere and needs to work on his route running if he
wishes to be a factor this year.
Whether Wes Welker is the cause of Denver's focus on the short passing game or merely a beneficiary, he continued his excellent season against the Eagles with his best game yet. On Denver's first play of the game, Welker demonstrated a skill set he didn't often get to use in New England; while Philadelphia was initially able to cover everything, excellent protection by Denver's offensive line bought Welker time to work open down the field for a 33 yard reception, with most of the yardage coming through the air. After that, Welker spent the remainder of the game attacking a defense which was already soft in the middle and lacking their starting safety, Patrick Chung. Philadelphia had few answers for Welker, who was able to increase his touchdown total to 6 through four games, matching his total from the entire 2012 season.
Was not targeted a lot but he made a catch with Tramon Williams playing him way off the ball. Willis was lined up wide right on a 3rd and long producing a first down for the Broncos.
Alexander was used as a target over the middle. He was utilized as more of a safety valve.
Putzier was used on some deeper routes. He showed some strength as he dragged a Jacksonville defensive back a few yards for a first down on one of his receptions.
In terms of yardage, Jackson was the second leading receiver in this game on the Denver Broncos squad, posting 24 yards on his one catch. Both of his targets came in the second quarter, none in the second half.
Carswell scored both of the touchdowns for the Denver Broncos in the second quarter. The first was for two yards, the second for one yard. He was not targeted any other time in the game.
Dreessen caught both targets on Sunday, but only one was of relevance. Racing down the seam on the Broncos’ opening drive, Dreessen made a tremendous catch on his 22-yard TD. Manning used play-action allowing Dreessen to get behind LB Phillip Weaver before dropping pass into the hands of the diving Dreessen. Later Manning would try a screen similar to his 30-yarder in week three against Houston, but Oakland read it well and knocked Dreessen for a five-yard loss. Like Tamme, Dreessen was all but none-existent in the 2nd half.
Mostly used as a blocker and then at times a simple check down for Orton.
Despite Joel Dreessen catching the TD on Sunday, Tamme was Manning’s favorite TE. Second on the team with six targets, Tamme caught five, including a quick pop pass on 4th down on Denver’s opening TD drive for eight yards and another short crosser on the play prior to the 4th down for six yards. As the game progressed and Denver assumed obvious control, Tamme was less involved (catching only one pass in the 2nd half, early in the 3rd quarter).
The return of Joel Dreessen and Denver's huge lead led to Julius Thomas seeing the sideline more against Philadelphia than he had all season long, as he appeared in just 62 of Denver's 76 offensive snaps. Nevertheless, Thomas remained just as involved in the passing game, as for the fourth consecutive game he was out in a pass pattern between 27 and 31 times. As expected, Denver's glut of offensive weapons has left Julius Thomas' targets inconsistent, but Thomas managed to haul in all four of his targets against Philadelphia, earning three first downs in the process, including a key conversion on 3rd-and-long on Denver's first drive. Even though he failed to score a touchdown for the first time all season, Denver made it clear that Julius Thomas remained an important part of their passing game.
Elam uncharacteristically missed his first two field goal attempts, from 41 and 46 yards. The 46 yard miss was due to a block by one of the Jacksonville defenders. Elam was flawless after that, completing field goal attempts of 33 and 42 yards in the fourth quarter.
Denver’s defense was outstanding defending against the run. They held Jacksonville to a franchise low 12 yards rushing on 11 attempts. Fred Taylor did not have much room to operate and did not have a run longer than five yards. The Denver defenders played very aggressively, with the linebackers providing a lot of support to the defensive linemen.
Denver’s pass defense was good considering they have been hit by injury. Pro Bowl cornerback Champ Bailey missed the game due to injury. They applied pressure on Byron Leftwich throughout the game. They were able to sack him twice, gather in two interceptions and recover two fumbles, but Leftwich was hurried and knocked down many times during the game, and as a result did not have much time to throw the ball.
|QB Byron Leftwich, Pass: 20 - 34 - 240 - 1 TD / 2 INT, Rush: 1 - 3 - 0|
Leftwich did not appear comfortable during the game. He was hurried, knocked down and sacked, as the Denver defense teed off on him, as Jacksonville could not get their running game started. Most of Leftwich’s yards came in the second half, and were as a result of a nice running by Jimmy Smith who turned an intermediate pass into a 45 yard touchdown play, and Denver playing conservatively once they had command of the game in the fourth quarter. Both of Leftwich’s interceptions came on long pass plays where the Denver defensive backs made very good plays on the ball, taking a more aggressive approach to the ball than the intended receivers. Leftwich was hit several times throughout the game, but stayed in for the entire duration.
There is no real comparison to make between Blake Bortles and Chad Henne. Bortles is so much better that you could almost argue that they're playing different sports. Bortles looked calm managing the pocket and locating receivers, but his ball placement was consistently a problem. Bortles forced his receivers to make a lot of difficult adjustments to the football. He didn't do that on his first touchdown pass, when he was able to locate his tight end wide open in the back of the endzone with an accurate touch pass. In the third quarter, he threw his first interception, a play that was a result of a poor decision rather than poor accuracy. For his second interception late in the game, Bortles stared down a receiver over the middle of the field and threw the ball straight to a defensive back.
|RB Fred Taylor, Rush: 8 - 14 - 0, Rec: 1 - 13 - 0 (2 targets)|
Taylor was not a factor in this game. He was only able to carry the ball eight times, and was not utilized much in the passing game. It appeared that Denver’s defenders manhandled Jacksonville’s offensive line, as Taylor spent most of his eight carries attempting to evade a Bronco defender behind the line of scrimmage. Taylor did have one reception called back due to a penalty on one of Jacksonville’s offensive linemen.
Pearman looked very good in the few chances he was given. He averaged over ten yards per reception, and displayed good hands and quickness when running after the catch. He made several Broncos defenders miss while turning a short pass into an 18 yard gain on a third and 19 play. He was on the field for most of the third and long plays, as LaBrandon Toefield was active but on the bench.
|RB Greg Jones, Rush: 1 - 2 - 0, Rec: 1 - 4 - 0 (1 targets)|
Jones was used primarily as a blocker in the game.
Gerhart didn't start the game, but he did have the first carry of any back on the field. Gerhart broke a tackle to get into the secondary and was close to a first down, but he fumbled the ball away to the Chargers. That fumble sidelined Gerhart until the second quarter, when he came in at the goalline to score the Jaguars' first touchdown. He was initially stopped short of the line, but then lined up as a fullback to reach his way over the line. That play was then reviewed and overturned, but the Jaguars went back to Gerhart again so he could finally score. Gerhart was used sparingly throughout the rest of the game, but he didn't appear to be punished further for his fumble.
Robinson was officially labelled as a wide receiver this week. His first touch of the ball came after he lined up as a receiver and was the target of a screen pass. Robinson dropped a pass that went into his chest however.
Todman barely saw the field as Jones-Drew was the feature back for an offense that wasn't handing out many carries. Todman didn't do anything to suggest he deserves more time on the field, as his most notable play was a personal foul penalty.
Smith was clearly Leftwich’s preferred target, especially when Jacksonville needed a first down. Smith showed he still has tremendous route running ability and enough speed to get by defenders. These attributes were all on display on a play where he turned a short throw into a 45 yard touchdown play.
|WR Matt Jones, Rush: 1 - -7 - 0, Rec: 3 - 27 - 0 (6 targets)|
Jones was used mostly on an ill-fated reverse attempt and short to intermediate routes. He was targeted deep once, but that led to an interception, as the Denver safety helping on the play made a strong break on the ball and got there before Jones did. Other than that he was not asked to do anything special in terms of using his well advertised deep speed.
Williams was thrown to almost as many times as Jimmy Smith, but was not nearly as productive. He did have one long catch overturned after instant replay review determined he had one foot out of bounds. Williams used his size well on the receptions he made, but could have held on to more of the balls thrown his way.
The story of Blackmon’s day was the crossing route and the comeback route. Blackmon ran those two routes almost exclusively, mostly with a defender in his back pocket. The tight coverage made it a difficult throw for Gabbert to connect with the first-round rookie. Blackmon was tackled immediately on his receptions and many times had to make a tough contested catch. Good thing for him that strong hands and using his body to box out defenders are two of his greatest strengths as a receiver. On occasion, Blackmon failed to work back to Gabbert, leading to the defensive back making a play on the ball. His biggest gain of the day, a 14-yard catch, came against linebacker coverage from the slot, his softest coverage in the game. Blackmon’s low point of the game came when he dropped an easy catch over the middle on third down, killing a potential scoring drive. It was the only time all day he would have had room to run after the catch. Despite his troubles to make a significant impact, Gabbert targeted Blackmon often and he was involved in the passing game far more than any other Jaguars receiver.
Brown is trapped at the bottom of the Jaguars active receiver depth chart. His first reception came in the fourth quarter when he caught a curl route for a first down. Brown had another target late in the fourth quarter, but he dropped it when wide open underneath.
Dillard got in and had one catch. He did not look slow on his reception, which was the knock on him coming out of Rice.
Hurns was the third receiver to catch a pass. He converted for a first down on a short curl route before absorbing a hit from a defensive back. Hurns nearly had another first down with his second reception on Third-and-Long. He adjusted well to a low pass while running away from a defender underneath, before being contacted just short of the line of scrimmage. To this point in the season, Hurns has consistently found open space down the field. He did so again against the Chargers and should have had a touchdown, but he was forced to adjust to a poorly placed pass from Bortles. In the third quarter, Hurns caught a pass in the flat for a couple of yards. When standing alone in the flat by the sideline, Hurns had the potential to run for some yards after the catch with a good throw. However, instead he was forced to make an exceptional catch on a very poor pass from Bortles just to gain one yard.
Allen Robinson is becoming a fixture in the Jaguars passing attack. He opened this game by converting a long third down with a catch against tight coverage. Robinson is a big, strong receiver with good ball skills. He was showing that off early in this game as he followed up his first reception with a curl route when he was hit as soon as the ball arrived. Robinson is most impressive running routes down the field, but the Jaguars continue to force passes to him on screen passes. Robinson caught another one for a loss in the third quarter of this game. Late in the fourth quarter, Robinson reacted to a tipped pass that was aimed at another receiver to gain 12 yards.
Sanders didn't see a target until the fourth quarter. Most of his receptions this season have come underneath when the Jaguars needed to go deeper, but he finally found a big play after an underneath pass in this game. Sanders caught the ball in space underneath, before turning and running to the other sideline away from the linebacker trying to cover him. That reception set up the Jaguars at the goalline. After a few failed pass attempts to other receivers, Blaine Gabbert tried to find Sanders running a shallow out route. The ball arrived before Sanders turned around to find it, but even if he had caught it he would have been short of the goalline. To start the next drive, Gabbert found Sanders over the middle of the field as he settled down in his route for a first down reception. Gabbert tried to fit the ball into Sanders on the next play, but it went straight to a Colts defender. With the game decided, Sanders caught a curl route against off coverage. Sanders caught the same pass a few plays later, but this time he turned away from the defender to add a yard or two to the play. Even though Sanders got into space, he didn't show any real speed to get down the field.
Shorts caught his first target on Gabbert's first throw. He ran a deep in route and caught an accurate pass between two defenders. Gabbert went straight back to Shorts on the next play, but the quarterback threw an inaccurate back shoulder throw that allowed Vontae Davis to take the pass away. Later in the first quarter, Shorts made an athletic reception on a deep curl route over the middle of the field. Gabbert tried to find Shorts in tight coverage on third and four early in the second quarter, but Davis tipped the ball again meaning the ball was ultimately caught by a Colts defender. Two drives later, Shorts caught a screen pass. He evaded two defenders at the line of scrimmage to turn a negative play into a short gain. Shorts followed that up with a successful slant route in the third quarter. Late in the third quarter, Shorts caught a bubble screen when he was tackled as the ball arrived. He drew a penalty on Vontae Davis on the very next play. Gabbert tried to find Shorts at the goalline on a slant route, but Greg Toler had good coverage and prevented the touchdown. Two plays later, Shorts couldn't come down with a high pass on a fade route. On the final drive of the game, Shorts caught a deep in route for a first down. Shorts followed that up on the next play with a similar catch.
Wilford was used as a possession type receiver except on one play where he was sent deep. That play resulted in one of Leftwich’s interceptions.
Wrighster was only involved once in the passing game and was not much of a factor.
Harbor wasn't involved at all until the fourth quarter. On the very first play of the fourth quarter, he caught a deep pass after running a crossing route. He kept working after Gabbert extended the play. Harbor's only other catch came underneath against prevent defense on the second last play of the game.
Jacobs was signed by the Jaguars this week and didn't feature much on offense during this game. He did catch Blake Bortles' first touchdown pass of his career, when Bortles found him wide open at the back of the endzone.
Lewis caught both of the passes thrown his way, including one to pick up a crucial first down late in the game to keep a Jacksonville drive alive.
Scobee did not participate much in this game, and had only one extra point attempt, which he converted.
The Jaguars began the game defending the run well, but due to the offense’s ineptitude, were forced to be on the field a lot early on without the benefit of much rest. This enabled Denver to pound away at Jacksonville successfully in the running game, and end the game with some very good number, 188 yards rushing at a 4.3 yards per carry clip.
Jacksonville’s pass defense was adequate against the Broncos. Despite giving up two short throws for touchdowns, they held Jake Plummer to 136 passing yards on 26 attempts. The longest completion was for 14 yards, and when Plummer attempted to go deep, he did not have much success. Jacksonville recorded three sacks, with all of them made by their defensive linemen, including one and a half by Reggie Hayward, who was playing against his former team.