Broncos vs. Raiders: 5 Halftime Adjustments the Broncos Must Make
John Elway has received the "Sea of Orange" that he requested at Sports Authority Field at Mile High tonight.
Unfortunately, the Oakland Raiders have been opportunistic and capitalized on some very disappointing Bronco mistakes. The Broncos defense has not looked terrible apart from being gashed in the running game.
The Broncos offense needs to find a rhythm and an identity in the running game so that they can open up the playbook like the Raiders have done.
Looks like the weather is going to make this a choppy game that might hinge on big plays and timely turnovers.
First Adjustment: Get Offensive Line Moving To Help Moreno
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Knowshon Moreno is having a tough time trying to punch the ball inside when the line is getting no push for him. Let McGahee do the dirty work inside; it's what he is built for.
Get the guards and centers moving and pulling on outside plays that will allow Moreno to get up to speed and make one move before cutting it up. The Broncos need to be able to control the clock because the Raider running attack is causing this game to fly by quickly.
The Broncos are getting out-schemed in the running game by the Raiders. Hue Jackson and company are showing what a true running game looks like with a creative mix of power and misdirection. Fox and McCoy need to match that kind of play-calling.
Second Adjustment: Don't Abandon the Run in the Red Zone
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The Broncos wasted one golden opportunity, after a gift from the defense, by completely ignoring the run and missing on three passing plays inside the the twenty.
If Fox is committed to bringing back the run to Denver, then prove it by trying to keep the defense honest with a good mix of play-calling.
That can be a draw to Moreno, a stretch by McGahee or even a dive by Larsen. Just try to be physical down there.
Third Adjustment: Bring Down Safeties To Help against the Run
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The Broncos are getting pushed around by the Raiders offensive front. When they have had help from Dawkins and Moore, it has helped to at least contain the run to an extent.
Dawkins and Moore need to be used to help fill gaps that are not being plugged by the defensive front seven.
This is a dangerous proposition because that is most likely exactly what Hue Jackson wants, but a player like Dawkins cannot keep up with the speed of Raider receivers in a foot race, leaving his value in zone coverage and blitz packages anyway.
That means that Bailey and Goodman will need to continue shutting down the outside on their own. No more allowing Heyward-Bey to separate down the sideline.
Fourth Adjustment: Max Protect the Punt
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Teams do not often survive such huge errors as blocked punts.
With the ease that the Raiders moved down the field afterwards, it might have been better off for the Broncos if Oakland had simply returned the block for a touchdown. At least, that would have conserved the clock for Denver.
One special team mistake can put your team in a hole. Multiple mistakes can bury you. However, giving Colquitt the opportunity to boot a 66-yard punt that is downed on the one, is a huge help so make sure he has the time to do it.
Stupid penalties and plays are hurting both teams right now. The Broncos need to start being the cause of Oakland's stupidity.
Fifth Adjustment: Stretch the Field
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There is no Nnamdi Asomugha on the outside for the Raiders any longer. So take some chances to spread the defense and find a one-on-one that you like.
Brandon Lloyd has proven that he can beat any one-on-one coverage that he encounters. Give him the opportunity to do that. To be fair, Stanford Routt made a nice play on a deep ball to Lloyd, but he won't do it every time. Based on the Giordano interception though, Orton needs to stay away from the zones and focus on the man coverage options.
That should help open up the running game as well. However, if the run has to be abandoned, then at least try to eat up some field in large chunks.