Coming off their bye week, the Denver Broncos may be rested, but they’ll also have to be ready. Division rival Los Angeles Chargers come to town Sunday as they look to continue their postseason push. A win would simultaneously end the Broncos’ 2021 relevancy.
If Denver’s season is to meaningfully continue beyond Week 12, Vic Fangio’s men will need to revert to tactics which served them well against the similarly high-powered Dallas Cowboys offense. The Broncos’ stunned the ‘Boys in Arlington, 30-16, behind a brutal running attack and heavy pass rush. Rookie Javonte Williams and veteran back Melvin Gordon crushed the Cowboys on the ground, running all over them for 190 rushing yards, while dominating time of possession (41 to 19 mins).
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Schlereth: Broncos Are Too Often Garbage
Former Super Bowl winning Bronco and Fox Sports Analyst, Mark Schlereth, believes the Broncos need to pound the rock if they’re to stand a chance on Sunday. Though he has his concerns as to how plausible that will be with Pat Shurmur at the helm.
“This offensive staff, this offensive coordinator (Pat Shurmur) cannot wait to quit running the ball,” Schlereth said on 104.3 The Fan, Nov 24. “So what do you have to do as players? You have to be successful on every run, otherwise you’re not going to get to run the ball, because your coach won’t allow it, and your head coach won’t hold him accountable. Those are the things I look at that have to happen for the Broncos to be successful. Do I have faith? Not much. Could it happen? It might.”
Broncos Country have been led on a rollercoaster this season with dominating wins over the Giants, Jets, Jaguars and Cowboys providing hope. Though they have equally let themselves down in far too many games this season. Schlereth certainly agrees, hammering the game-planning put together by Shurmur and head coach Vic Fangio.
“Every now and again, you’ll fall into something where you’re running the ball really well and don’t get out of it, and you win a game against the Dallas Cowboys. And everybody’s really excited about it, and then the next week you fall right back into the rhythm of ‘Oh well, guess what. This didn’t work very well so let’s just get back to doing what we do–which is garbage.”
Broncos’ Must Shut Down Chargers’ Offensive Weapons
Feeding Javonte Williams may be critical to Denver’s first home win since October 21, but stopping L.A. quarterback Justin Herbert and his arsenal is equally crucial. Schlereth was effusive in his praise of the Chargers’ weaponry which will look to ensure the Broncos are embarrassed at home again.
“On the offensive side they’ve got several elite players that you have to contend with,” Schlereth said. “Obviously Herbert has been unbelievable and he was great last weekend. [Running back Austin] Ekeler is a phenomenal player [and] to me the guy we’ve always had trouble with–who’s one of the most underrated players in the league, regardless of position–is Keenan Allen. You’re talking about three big-time weapons right there alone.
Keenan Allen isn’t the only wideout they’ll have to contend with. Young stud Mike Williams has come on in leaps and bounds, including the game-winning touchdown against Pittsburgh on Sunday night.
“[Wide receiver] Mike Williams is starting to play better. You’re going to have find a way to shut those weapons down, to shut that offense down and to limit them to a degree. Also Slater, the kid they drafted at left tackle, is an elite player. The key is shutting them down and obviously the key we talk about all the time–not falling out of balance. Playing with a lead and not allowing yourself to fall out of that balance.
Easier said than done, but Schlereth is right. For the Broncos to have any chance they’ll need a great rushing and defensive performance.
Follow Patrick Djordjevic on Twitter: @Patdjordjevic
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