Preview – Denver Broncos vs San Diego Chargers

Denver Broncos Key Contributor
Denver Broncos Key Contributor

By Julie Dixon @ABroncoNole

Having to watch five San Diego Chargers games, two of which were against Kansas City Chiefs and the Oakland Raiders was torture. Talk about bad football, no wonder all but one of the SD opponents have only won one game. Yeesh.

When previewing this match-up, I’m going to hypothetically use both quarterbacks because if Trevor Siemian is still not a full participant in practice today, then he’s either not going to start or the chances of one hit taking him out is very high. They could also try using both he and Paxton Lynch to limit the snaps Siemian takes. Odds of him playing an entire game aren’t great.

No matter who the QB is, they’ve got to find some way to increase production. 8 touchdowns in five games, 4 of which were in one game, is not good. If our defense has another game with no pick sixes or interceptions, like last week, that will be an issue against a team that scores an average of 30 points a game.

Trevor: his strengths are hitting short passes to the left sideline, especially to Demaryius Thomas for the most yards after catch, moving the team quickly and getting the ball out quicker to first reads. He’s not great in the middle or short right sideline passes (missing Don Stephenson and Virgil Green is a factor). Once they went down, his production dropped. As did the run game.

To succeed against SD he should target DT in short passes to the left, especially if Jason Verrnett is covering. He’s not good. This will be a good match-up for Siemian.  If Casey Hayward is covering Demaryius Thomas, his passes have to be to the left shoulder. Hayward is the best on their secondary in my opinion, so he’s who to watch out for. Also, DT has only been targeted 7 times a game, 6 against Carolina Panthers. Now would be a good time to up those attempts.

If Hayward is covering DT, hit Emmanuel Sanders on a crossing pattern, time to get better at the middle of the field. While his numbers to E on the right are poor, he should try there, too. This could be a chance to strike if Verrett is covering. Throw to the sidelines. DS and VG playing should help buy more time.

Paxton: his best throws are to the middle and left sideline on short to intermediate  passes. The middle throws could be a very good match-up. SD is bad covering the middle of the field. Lynch has yet to play with DS or VG, so their presence should help him get rid of the ball quicker. When he does, his stats are good. He and Trevor seem to do best in the areas the other one struggles.

If Lynch plays, OC Rick Dennison should send him on a naked boot to the left. Have no idea why in a zone blocking scheme, none have been attempted by either QB. There have been plenty of opportunities especially when defenders think it’s a pass to DT. If he does play, they should do what they did in Tampa, start him throwing the ball, short passes, get his nerves calm and then branch out. Having some protection, should help enormously. Also, he needs to throw on the run to the left a few times.

FB Andy Janovich needs to be used more. Against a team that’s weak in the middle, and with our starters back, it’s time to smash that ball down an opponent’s throat. He’s a road grater. Not only do we need to do this as a team, but both our QBs need it. If RB CJ Anderson still can’t get that extra yardage needed, especially on third downs, time to up AJ and RB Devontae Booker‘s plays.

I know that Lynch struggling had a little to do with it, but our third down situations were atrocious on Sunday. That wasn’t all on him, not even close. Flags, lost yardage on run plays, horrendous OL play had six third downs starting with over ten yards to go! No run game had Lynch dropping back to pass on 46 snaps, with him under pressure 37% of the time. That’s a recipe for disaster. Siemian isn’t going to fare much better if our run game doesn’t start doing something. We’re worse than last year.

SD is just plain weak in the middle of their DL and linebackers covering the middle of the field. This must be exploited by our run and passing game. With the addition of an extra TE (hallelujah!), and a good RT, everyone should do better. They better or else we’re in dire straights.

In many ways, the Chargers are like the Atlanta Falcons. Their younger, weaker brother. They have a QB who throws the ball, a lot. They have running backs who can run and catch. And like the Falcons, are in the bottom for points allowed.

WR Travis Benjamin is good. CB Aqib Talib is better. WR Tyrell Williams is ok, CB Chris Harris, Jr is better. RB Melvin Gordon is good. RB Danny Woodhead isn’t what he once was, but he’s still a threat in the red zone. FS Darrion Stewart and SS TJ Ward should be able to stop those two if our linebackers can’t. Time to show they learned from last week.

When Aqib and Chris take out Benjamin and Williams, Philip Rivers has a slew of others he can, and will, throw to. The biggest threat of the second tier guys will be TE Travis Henry. He needs to be jammed at the line of scrimmage, don’t let him hit the flats.

San Diego’s OL wasn’t bad, but now they’re banged up and have two rookies starting (I believe). This should be the dinner bell for LB’s Von Miller, Shane Ray and DE Derek Wolfe. Who should be salivating to whisper more sweet nothings in Rivers’ ear. Won’t say more, but wonder if any of Rivers’ kids are named Hansel and Gretal?

If our edge rushers are in Rivers’ face all game, and the No Fly Zone does their job, he will throw a pick IF our offense can score. When Rivers gets in equal points battles, he always throws deep into double coverage. Making him ripe for at least one interception. Maybe three. That’s his downfall. Taking the deep shot when the underneath is there. Of course, it works enough that he keeps trying it, so our DBs need to be ready. SD should be held to 16 points.

Our offense is going to hinge on the OL. Plain and Simple. Give either QB some protection and a run game and either should be able to shred this defense. Max Garcia better be ready for Jatavis Brown and Melvin Ingram because if Don is back, that is the weak link. Put AJ or CJ on that side of Trevor or Pax for extra protection. Virgil next to Don on the right.

OC ‘Ricco’ just needs to use his quarterbacks’ strengths. Have Siemian keep his passes short and quick (limiting shoulder use and time holding the ball), avoid Hayward and screens. This is the game for the dink and dunk for his shoulder. A deep ball once a Quarter for a surprise.

Have Lynch do roll outs, throw to the middle and left sideline. Either can throw deep when Varrett is the cover guy. Maybe Lynch to Jordan Taylor down the seam. Use Lynch’s big body to get extra yardage. Whomever starts, the play call should be aggressive. Go after San Diego. Pick on their weak middle.

Prediction: if Don and Virgil play well, Denver 28 – SD 16

Follow and chat Broncos with me: @ABroncoNole

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