By Julie Dixon //@ABroncoNole
The 3-7 Denver Broncos travel to Oakland to take on the 4-6 Raiders. Every time I type 3, it hurts.
Oakland’s defense has been bad. We’ll now see if it was lack of talent or lack of coaching. To me, it’s 3/4 talent. I’m going to assume they have been thinking of this switch, but seeing us change quarterbacks and offensive coordinator was their perfect time. Not a lot you can do with three days of practice with a new defensive coordinator, but when your opponent is facing the same thing on offense, what better time?
Head coach Vance Joseph has made it clear he has no belief in quarterback Paxton Lynch, Denver’s first first-round pick who had two starts last season. He’s told the media more than once that the game plan will be simple and for Lynch to run, not stay in the pocket (as if quarterbacks Trevor Siemian and Brock Osweiler were good in it) and basically act like a running back. Joseph is equating Lynch to former quarterback Tim Tebow. I wish he was just pulling a Bill Belichick, but this guy keeps little to his chest.
Based on this, Oakland could underestimate him. The combo of Raiders assistant coach John Pagano not having game film, not knowing if Lynch is as dumb as Joseph portrays him or if new offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave will have him use his cannon arm more than his fast legs, could help Denver.
What the combo of Musgrave and Lynch have going for them is using the RPO because of his legs and arm. The question will be timing. Three days of practice with the ones, former quarterback Peyton Manning would laugh at. Lynch throws the ball quite a bit faster than Siemian and a little more than Osweiler. Four MPH faster rounds off to two yards per second. Plus, Lynch hasn’t thrown to the ones since August and hasn’t had a day of not splitting reps since last December…when he had three days.
On offense, the key for Oakland is to have quarterback Derek Carr pass to receivers who can catch, wear down Denver’s defensive backs and linebackers. Especially if Carr is throwing to tight end Jared Cook. For their defense, show Lynch looks he’s not seen before and hope he throws some interceptions. Our last win was week 4, the only time our quarterbacks didn’t throw a pick; against Oakland.
On offense, the key for Denver is giving Lynch freedom to make plays any way he wants. Use him 180° from Siemian. I hope Billy puts Vance’s remarks and advice in the trash. Musgrave needs to be his cheerleader. Paxton Lynch has taken the biggest beating I’ve ever seen from any fanbase/media group ever, so having just one guy in his corner will be crucial to his confidence.
The defense needs to sack Carr, early and often. Send defensive end Derek Wolfe up the middle. Since Carr injured his back the last time these two teams played, I’m betting he’s got some bats circling the belfry when the defense takes the field. He’ll want to dump the ball quicker than he should and that’ll set up the chance for our defense to get some picks. Jam their receivers at the line. Just that one step, combined with throwing the ball early, should work.
The weather forecast for Oakland has projected rain, giving Denver the edge. Not that Denver gets a whole lot of practice in wet weather, but rain usually means more run. I’ll take our run defense over theirs. When it comes to catching wet footballs, I’d say both teams are equal.
Talk Broncos with Julie on Twitter @ABroncoNole