Denver Broncos: Behind Enemy Lines with Black and Teal

Sep 12, 2021; Houston, Texas, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence (16) celebrates with wide receiver Marvin Jones (11) after a touchdown during the fourth quarter against the Houston Texans at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 12, 2021; Houston, Texas, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence (16) celebrates with wide receiver Marvin Jones (11) after a touchdown during the fourth quarter against the Houston Texans at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports /

Ahead of the Denver Broncos and Jacksonville Jaguars matchup, we caught up with Black & Teal’s Carlos Sánchez.

The Denver Broncos came away with a victory over the New York Giants in week 1. It was great to see so many good things happening like Teddy Bridgewater performing well, and the returns of wide receiver Courtland Sutton and Von Miller.

Week 1’s win was Broncos head coach Vic Fangio’s first win in the month of September as a head coach. That’s not great, but hopefully it’s a good sign for things to come.

Now they look to get their second win out of two outings in week 2 against the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Jaguars will be without their 2021 first-round running back Travis Etienne, who suffered a Lisfranc injury right before the season opener. That’s a huge break for the Denver Broncos.

They will, however, have first-overall pick Trevor Lawrence fighting his best to beat the Denver Broncos defense.

We caught up with Black & Teal writer Carlos Sánchez ahead of the Week 2 matchup.

What do you think Trevor Lawrence is capable of doing that will help the Jaguars’ chances of getting the win over the Denver Broncos?

CS: The Jaguars will need Trevor Lawrence to be at the top of his game. He threw three interceptions against the Texans but those could be blamed on his lack of experience at the NFL level. Also, he threw for three touchdowns, so it’s clear he was doing something right. The Jaguars will need to give him some help. In Week 1, they had the former Clemson Tiger drop back a staggering 51 times. Unless you got yourself into a shootout, you aren’t going to win many games throwing the ball that many times.

Jacksonville’s coaching staff will have to craft a more balanced game plan but they can’t be too conservative and become a run-first team. It sounds cliché but the Jags need to let Lawrence play and make mistakes just like any other rookie would. Sure, he’s more talented than most first-year passes but he’s still a work in progress. On the bright side, he showed good pocket awareness and was unfazed by the Texan’s pass rush in Week 1. If he keeps growing as the season goes on, the Jaguars will have a fighting chance against the Broncos.

Von Miller looks to be back to his old self. Can the right side of the Jaguars’ offensive line be a problem for him? How so?

CS: Yes, it will definitely be a challenge to stop a healthy Von Miller that posted five total pressures, two sacks, and three total tackles in Week 1. Even top pass-blockers would struggle against the three-time First-Team All-Pro nod, and the Jaguars’ right side of the line may have a hard time containing him.

Right tackle Jawaan Taylor was good-not-great against the Texans, allowing two total pressures. Right guard A.J. Cann who is a reliable player more often than not, had one of the worst games of his career in Week 1, giving up a worrisome seven total pressures. He will need to bounce back if the Jaguars want to have a stop at neutralizing Miller. Also, offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell will surely give them help often and have tight end Chris Manhertz line up often on the right side.

Despite the fact that Manhertz doesn’t offer much as a receiver, he’s one of the best blocking tight ends in the league. The Jaguars signed him earlier this year precisely for games like the one in Week 2.

How worried are Jaguars fans regarding the status of head coach Urban Meyer? Do you buy into the idea that the first-year head coach would bail on the team? If that did happen, who do you think would be a good candidate to replace him?  

CS: In the NFL, we must always expect the expected, and there’s a precedent for former college head coaches to quit not long after taking over. Both Nick Saban and Steve Spurrier quit after two seasons, and Bobby Petrino didn’t even last one year at the helm. Simply, the transition from college to the pros is not a walk in the park. Also, Urban Meyer has a history of leaving sought-after jobs (Florida and Ohio State), only to later take another. Thus, it’s not surprising to see him being linked to the USC opening.

Urban Meyer is used to having the most talented roster on game day, and he’s learning that he needs to adjust his approach to the pros. He might have thought that it was going to be easier when he took over. Still, I don’t think he would quit on the Jaguars, at least not in the next couple of years. He has invested too much time and energy just to quit right now.

Who is an under-the-radar Jaguars player on either side of the ball that Broncos fans should have their eyes on?

CS: To be fair most Jaguars’ players, even the good ones are often overlooked by the national media. That’s what happens when you muster a paltry 12 wins over the last three years. Linebacker Myles Jack has been the heart and soul of the Jaguars defense for the last few years but the Broncos should look out for EDGE rusher Josh Allen, who is at full strength after being slowed down by a knee injury in 2020. Back in 2019, he earned a Pro Bowl designation after registering 10.5 sacks and two forced fumbles. The Kentucky product has picked up where he left off before the injury, logging one sack and four total pressures against the Texans.

On offense, wide receiver DJ Chark Jr. is relatively unknown around the league unless you are into Fantasy Football. The 2018 second-round pick made the Pro Bowl in 2019 but suffered a dropoff in production last year due to the Jaguars’ instability at quarterback. In Week 1, he hauled in three receptions for 86 yards and one trip to the end zone. He had an ugly drop early in the game but other than that, he had a good game. Trevor Lawrence will look for him often in Week 2.

Aside from Trevor Lawrence, which rookie do you think could make a big impact in week 2?

CS: Andre Cisco but he comes with an asterisk, as it’s uncertain if he will start as of this writing. Heading into Week 1, Jaguars defensive coordinator Joe Cullen told the local media that both Andrew Wingard and Cisco would get playing time. In the end, Wingard got the starting nod but didn’t play well. The coaching staff ended up taking him out of the field and plugged Cisco in the third quarter.

The Jaguars’ brass will probably announce later this week whether Cisco will start in Week 2 but even if he doesn’t, he should see his playing time increase. He had a productive training camp and posted the highest Pro Football Focus overall grade of any rookie safety in the preseason. Despite the fact that he tore his ACL last year, he’s had no setbacks and looks like the player that logged 13 interceptions and 14 passes defensed in 24 collegiate games. The Jags could be better off letting the former Orangeman learn of the fly. His ceiling is higher than Wingard’s and he’s currently the better option of the two. It wouldn’t be puzzling if he doesn’t start versus Denver. 

Thank you, Carlos, for taking the time to answer some questions prior to the Denver Broncos game against the Jacksonville Jaguars. Check out Carlos’ work over at Black & Teal here.

Kickoff for the Broncos at Jaguars begins at 1pm ET on CBS.