How the Jaguars Can Beat the Broncos (Hey, Anything’s Possible)

Never say never, people of Jacksonville. I’ve got the blueprint for how the Jaguars can stage the biggest upset in NFL regular-season history. Plus, my other Week 6 thoughts

The Jaguars will need Maurice Jones-Drew at his clock-grinding best to have a chance at beating the Broncos. (Justin Cooper/Icon SMI)
The Jaguars will need Maurice Jones-Drew at his clock-grinding best to have a chance at beating the Broncos. (Justin Cooper/Icon SMI)

Well, here at The MMQB, we’ve written quite a lot about team No. 32 this week, the Jacksonville Jaguars. Much has centered on the concept that this is one horrible team, with so much to do to even think .500 is an option, with such an impossible dream: Jacksonville, 0-5, the lowest-scoring team in football, at Denver, 5-0, the highest-scoring team in football.

But I am here to tell you some good news, fans of Jags. I am here to tell you how to beat the Denver Broncos this weekend.

First, some encouragment from Kent Graham. Remember him? He and Danny Kanell alternated at quarterback for the New York Giants in 1998. The Giants were a bumbling team in ’98, 5-8 when the Denver Broncos came to town that December. Denver was 13-0. The Giants were coming off 34- and 24-point losses to the Packers and Niners, respectivley, in the previous month, and the John Elway-led Broncos were blowing away teams with ease. “It’s the only time in my career,” Graham said this week from his home in Illinois, “when I remember saying to my wife, ‘I don’t know if we can win this game.’ ”

jag-weekBut they hung in, and with 1:49 left, trailing 16-13, Graham took the ball at the Giants’ 14-yard line and did the stunningly improbable. Eighty-six yards in 61 seconds, capping it with a beautiful 37-yard touchdown pass to Amani Toomer. And so I asked him: What would you say to Jacksonville quarterback Chad Henne as he goes up against the great Broncos—maybe greater than the Super Bowl-winning ’98 team; we shall see—if you had the chance?

“One play at a time,” said Graham. “One efficient play after another. Focus on one play, and then the next—and take a few educated risks. There’s so much parity in the league now. A tipped ball, three turnovers, who knows? In our game, it was definitely David and Goliath, but there was one thing I knew: If everyone did his job to the best of his ability, we’d have a chance. A chance. And Jacksonville has that chance. They’re NFL players.”

My Rx for the Jags:

1. Force running backs Maurice Jones-Drew and Jordan Todman on the Denver front. The Jags’ running game (2.7 yards per rush) has been awful, but the key to this game is to play clockball, and the way to do that is with a possession running game and short passing game. And tell the backs to stay in bounds. The clock must run.

2. Henne should never snap the ball until there are three seconds or less on the play clock. Simple. Run the clock. Run the clock.

3. Put Justin Blackmon in motion so he can’t get jammed as much at the line. One of the weaknesses of young Blackmon’s game is his difficulty in beating press coverage. So offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch needs to move him all game long. And put the ball in his hands on a couple of reverses—as long as he stays in-bounds.

4. On defense, blitz more. The Jags are not big blitzers. And Peyton Manning is a blitz-recognizer. But coach Gus Bradley must do things Manning won’t expect. If Jason Babin can generate some pressure with his regular weakside rushes, the rookie safeties—particularly instinctive Johnathan Cyprien—could hurry Manning and try to take him out of his comfort zone. It’s next to impossible, but anything to show Manning things he hasn’t seen.

5. Take risks on defense. Will Blackmon, a mediocre journeyman corner, has played for some good teams—the Giants and Packers most notably. He knows what it means to know when to take a risk, to jump a route. The only way to make Manning turn it over is to bait him. He’ll kill the D a couple of times, to be sure, but he’s going to do that anyway. Risks, educated ones, are vital.

6. Don’t let Trindon Holliday beat you. He’s the most dangerous returner in football. Kick the ball out of the end zone on kickoffs. And the punter’s job? Bryan Anger must never give Holliday the ball in the field of play. Lose eight yards and kick out of bounds.

See? It’s easy. Now just do exactly what I say, and we’ll have the biggest upset in regular-season history Sunday evening.

About Last Night …

A Cure?

Earlier this week, Andy Benoit examined the Giants and the league's other still-winless teams and diagnosed their problems. Is there any hope for them?

Chicago 27, New York Giants 21. I came away so impressed with Jay Cutler, who played his second straight interception-free game. Not just for his throws downfield, but his management of the game. Example: Twelve minutes left, Bears trying to run the clock out, 3rd-and-2. Giants blitz … and Cutler lofts a perfectly placed rainbow into Matt Forte’s hands as he scurries out of bounds just past the first-down marker. That’s what I like about Cutler right now under Marc Trestman: He’s playing under control, making great decisions, and throwing the ball with the best touch I’ve ever seen in him.

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42 comments
LibraryRocks
LibraryRocks

I guess it wasn't as bad as most everybody expected. Jags should get a bit more respect moving forward. Not even sure if they'll end up with the top pick next year. Giants and Bucs look just as bad.

TyroneAleve
TyroneAleve

Why do the broncos continue to bench c j anderson? I'd rather see him than ronnie hillman, right about now.

Renegade_2010
Renegade_2010

I'm gonna go out on a limb and say the reason Champ Bailey is playing Sunday is to get the rust of not having played in 6+ weeks off. 


pgrimes
pgrimes

Personal Message to Peter King: I will buy you Starbucks every day for one year if the Jags beat the Broncos in Denver. You obviously had too much time on your hands this week or got hit in the head by an errant throw from Tim Tebow. There are locks and then there are mortal locks. This is the latter.

lawrence.latham
lawrence.latham

#9 Think 3rd preseason tune up game...at least a couple series to knock of the rust and get some confidence in his condition and game readiness.  

TheSteelers
TheSteelers

With the 32nd pick of the 2014 NFL Draft, the Pittsburgh Steelers select Cyrus Kouandjio, OT, Alabama

We know what you're thinking: "uh, how do you expect to make the playoffs, let alone win the SB?"

Well, we are resilient. If the Pittsburgh has ever proved anything, it's that. Historically, we are a team that starts slow and finishes like a champion. Our expectations aren't any different this year. In fact, there is a special atmosphere about this season.

Therefore, we foresee a 10-2 stretch starting tomorrow.

betolara1980
betolara1980

"...people of Jacksonville. I’ve got the blueprint for how the Jaguars can stage the biggest upset in NFL regular-season history".

Never quite figured you for a snake oil salesman Pete.

DiangelMatthews
DiangelMatthews

I have been pretty much thinking a very similar thing.  You have to be able to shoot to have a shoot out, so without a gunslinger, it's time to duck and dodge.  Jump every route, be sure to hit every runner, receiver and manning no matter what.  Don't ever snap the ball with more than one second only hurry up jags could successfully pull off is how fast they make vegas rich --don't do it!!  Let Denard play multiple series(as QB), the thing that killed the wildcat is every team can stack the box when the rb/wr gets behind center.  Robinson is a QB and can't throw it in the dirt any worse than the other guys.  The call for  Robinson will increase because you have a big school QB sitting behind horrible scrubs.  Robinson todman and Mjd in the backfield , one goes out and sits down for a safety valve the other blocks and blackmon keeps streaking to catch a hailmary or force the defense to spread out.  Jags can win by playing very slow and completely gutting their traditional strategy which counted on a regular QB practicing every week and playing, a star RB, WR and TE plus a few up and coming supporting members like ace,cecil and denard.  Now it's time to play fast and loose.

Wolverine825
Wolverine825

Why not swap out Chad Henne with Denard Robinson. He can accurately throw the ball and better yet he's just about unstoppable running the ball.

Jim21
Jim21

PK - If you ever hope to shed the homer tag, you have to start referring to players by their REAL names. "The Gronk" - Do you know how stupid that makes you sound?

jerry.redmond37
jerry.redmond37

Yeah! That will work. The only way Jax. can beat Denver is if Manning plays linebacker, or Denver doesn't show up. ITS TEBOW TIME MR. KAHN

Christopher32
Christopher32

I remember that giants game too. Everyone was talking about miami stopping another perfect season the following week, and overlooking the giants who did win 5 of their last 6 games that year where denver was in the middle of that stretch.

The big difference is while the giants qb situation wasnt good, it wasnt as bad as jacksonville, and the giants had a top 10 d that year, not a bottom two D. And Denver already had the division and the afc locked up, not still tied with kc.

Christopher32
Christopher32

sorry a nearly 3:1 time of possession, but you get my point. Even with time of possession you still have to score more per drive than denver.

Christopher32
Christopher32

Peyton has a 147.7 qb rating vs the blitz averaging better than 10 yards per attempt vs better defenses than Jacksonville... That is a tall order right there to attack their strength with your weakness..

I sort of like the try to control the clock bit, but you still have to outscore Denver... 12 play 8 minute fg drive, and Peyton has a 3 minute td drive, what did that get you? 4:1 time of possession and down by four. Jax isnt a good running team, and Denver has been effective at stopping the run. Their 3.3 a carry is 2nd best in the league. That recipe could mean a lot of 3rd and long which is the recipe for Denver having a shot at beating the spread. Anything can happen in the NFL, but in this game, the chances and ideas are pretty weak at best.

comeback
comeback

If they allow the JJ's to have 15 players on the field-anything could happen?

Jon8
Jon8

The only way the Jags best the Broncos is with a massive outbreak of the MRSA virus in the Denver locker room!!

Micker
Micker

This is more about how the Jags can possibly cover 28pts lol. 

seanic405
seanic405

With all due respect Mr. King... The only way Denver loses this football game is if the team dies of food poisoning from the team meal before the game.

JPG
JPG

Come on, Mr. King.  The Broncos will not go into week 7 in Indianapolis on a Sunday night before a national audience after just losing to the Jags.

It won't happen.

gary7
gary7

So now you wanna play coach instead of playing the worst GM in the history of the NFL, WARNING:  If Jacksonville coaches even consider one dam thing that Peter ( I wanna Coach too) King suggested, then tack on another 28 points to the margin you are going to lose by...even George Allen would dismiss that lousy offense approach, leave the coaching to the coaches, even at 0-5 they would would beat your game plan everytime

Washheightsboy
Washheightsboy

My strategy for Jacksonville would be to rush 6, leave the 4 LBs to patrol the middle and then drop back 4 cover guys.  That's really their only chance.

sarteestmd
sarteestmd

I know how Jacksonville can beat Manning (and the Broncos)! At night, with a stick, while Manning is asleep in his bed...otherwise, forget it.

Loch
Loch

1. Peyton Manning seems to have fallen off the face of the earth

2.  Eric Decker may not make it through the night

3. Dontarrious Thomas inflicted with gigantism.

4. Wes Welker is looking at six consecutive life sentences

5. Champ Bailey thinks he's a chicken

6. Knowshon Moreno won't shave his "sideburns"

7.Robert Ayers saving a burning house

8. Julius Thomas was knocked out by a barfly arguing England's greatest prime minister

Sportsfan18
Sportsfan18

Yes, there will be pressure for Coughlin to step aside after this yr but so many proud successful men don't like to go out on such a sour note.  No, he doesn't have to go out a Super Bowl champion but when they have a choice most times they want to try and atone for the egg they just laid.  Now I have no idea what will happen of course but I'm sure he'd rather go out with say a 10 win season than a 3 or 4 win season.  Also, if they finish with 4 wins and in last place, their schedule next yr won't be as tough keep in mind so rebounding to 9 or 10 wins wouldn't be as difficult as one might think it could be right now.

CraigGaydos
CraigGaydos

If you're looking for inspiration for the Jaguars I suggest instead you look to the 1997 game between the 0-10 Colts (who were heading toward the #1 pick in the draft in 1998 for you-know-who) and the 8-3 Packers (who were heading toward Favre's super bowl win).   Colts win 41-38.   Everyone figured that Green Bay was distracted by the game the next week against their nemesis Cowboys - who had beaten them 7 times in a row but always in Dallas.  Certainly GB wasn't distracted the next week - they slaughtered the Cowboys, who'd won 3 of the previous 4 SBs, 45-17.

So, for JAX, the theory is that Peyton might be distracted by his return next week to Indy.

Yeah, right.   Not realistic - but probably the only hope JAX has.

PhilSwift
PhilSwift

Got to hand it to you Peter. You went back to a game in 1998 where the unbeaten Broncos got ambushed in an upset by the NYGs at New York. As a lifelong Broncos fan, remember the game and my observation was the 5-or-whatever they were Giants weren't nearly as bad as the 0-5 Jaguars. Control the clock by moving the chains with Henne and a mediocre running attack? Nah, it ain't going to happen. Peyton may have four TDs by halftime...

PhilSwift
PhilSwift

Got to hand it to you Peter, had to go back to 1998 and a Giants upset of the unbeaten Broncos to make your hook in the lead plausible. One thing you've got right: if Jax could somehow control the ball by moving the chains and keep Peyton & Co. off the field this wildly improbable scenario might have a chance. But with a rusty Chad Henne at QB and a mediocre running attack to do it over four quarters? Nah, it ain't going to happen.

SammieGreen
SammieGreen

you heard it hear first the jags will win!

Triple
Triple

Play Bailey this week, to prepare him for next week.  You just can not duplicate game speed in practice.  Even the great ones need practice.  It's what made them great.  Even AI could figure that one out if he wasn't ranting so much....

George
George

Denver is seriously / defensively banged up.   In addition, Fox will be benching starters ASAP in the third quarter.  They've got their toughest game yet (indy in indy) next week.

This means that ridiculous 27 point spread is in deep doo doo.   Take the Jags and the points.

 But the Jags winning?   :D   (I think not)


WeixiaoYu
WeixiaoYu

@TheSteelers I appreciate your loyalty to your club. Hats off to you as a fellow fan of the game but you and I both know that the following has a better ring to it.  With the 4th pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, the Pittsburgh Steelers select Jake Matthews, OT Texas A&M


But we shall see...

Christopher32
Christopher32

The only problem with slowing the game is you still have to score more points per drive than denver. I do like the idea of playing close and tight though. Go out with 11 in the box in dime and play the pass every play. If Moreno has 200 yards oh well. If Peyton connects on deep balls over your defenders heads... Oh well. But force him to make the deep throws. Its about the only thing he hasnt done super humanly

samasters88
samasters88

Mote like Bridgewater time. Tebow has never been on Caldwell, the GMs, radar. Ever.

sarteestmd
sarteestmd

@Jon8 Good point...except MRSA is a bacteria, not a virus.

Sdwalt
Sdwalt

@gary7 Unless your a NFL coach, how would you know?. Your doing the same thing your accusing him of.

JdJohnston
JdJohnston

@Washheightsboy I think the best strategy for Jacksonville to beat Denver is to rush 11 D-linemen, leave the 8 LBs to patrol the middle and then drop 19 cover guys. Does that make sense, Washheightsboy?

DamionMosher
DamionMosher

So your plan is to have 14 guys on defense?

Dshban11
Dshban11

@Loch Beautiful Simpsons reference. 

+1 Internets for you. 

comeback
comeback

@PhilSwift Ambushed my ass, they got beat on a luck last second pass but so what we know who won the playoffs

Jon8
Jon8

Oh forfend! That changes everything!!!

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