After a painful home opener, the New York Jets head out west to battle the undefeated Denver Broncos at Mile High.
What: New York Jets (0-2) at Denver Broncos (2-0)
Where: Empower Field at Mile High, Denver, CO
When: Sunday at 4:05 p.m. ET
By conventional football wisdom, everything about the Jets’ visit to the Rocky Mountains screams “trap game” for their equine hosts.
They’re 2-0 after taking advantage of the collectively winless Giants and Jaguars. Brief Jet Teddy Bridgewater (120.7 passer rating) has been a godsend at quarterback after two years of Drew Lock limbo. Von Miller (three sacks) is back in action at the helm of a resurgent defense. Melvin Gordon and Javonte Williams have united for 241 yards on the ground. Surely, the other shoe’s about to drop for the Broncos, partial owners of the second-longest playoff drought behind the Jets, no?
Alas for New York, there’s little to suggest that they’re ready to take advantage of such a situation. The Jets need to think about revisiting the end zone before they worry about getting back in the win column. There’s plenty to be inspired by in the early going: the makeshift defense has held its own and the run game gained traction through Michael Carter and Ty Johnson. But the lingering offensive issues…namely the sputtering protection and Zach Wilson’s rookie growing pains…mean that a win is a little too much to ask for at this point.
The Broncos’ upcoming schedule suggests we’ll soon find out whether they can be counted amongst the legitimate contenders: Baltimore, Pittsburgh, Las Vegas, and Cleveland loom large after the Jets’ visit. They’ve done a good job of capitalizing against opponents trying to find themselves. Expect that trend to continue on Sunday.
Broncos 24, Jets 13
The Jets head to Mile High hoping they can benefit from some Mile High magic. This past week saw the Jets string together a great performance everywhere except on offense. The defense looked great, the secondary had itself a day, C.J. Mosley and John Franklin-Myers put on shows and overall proved they can hold their own.
But the offense was stagnant and Zach Wilson had a terrible performance. The unit needs to step up, and they have a hard task at hand: the Denver defense is legit, and they are going to be a tough test.
The fan in me hopes the Jets take a step forward and pull off a win, or, at the very least, perform better. But the analyst in me says the Jets have a tough task ahead. I think the Broncos win in a tight game, and Wilson performs better, but not good enough to get the win.
The New York Giants kick off their season tomorrow afternoon against the Denver Broncos. There is plenty of excitement surrounding the Giants this year as they spent a lot of money to improve the weakpoints of their roster this offseason. However, one weak area of the team went largely untouched. The Giants did not do much to improve their offensive line.
The New York Giants had one of the worst offensive lines in the NFL in 2020. In 2020, according to ESPN, the Giants’ pass-block win rate ranked dead-last in the NFL at 46%. Their run-block win rate ranked 18th at 70%, which is about average or slightly below. Despite this, the team made no major moves to upgrade their offensive line in the 2021 offseason, other than acquiring some quality depth pieces.
As the Giants face off against the Denver Broncos tomorrow, the game will serve as a strong challenge for New York’s offensive line – the unit that might make or break the team’s season.
The Denver Broncos defensive front
Von Miller is back for the Denver Broncos this year after missing the entirety of the 2020 season with an injury. Von Miller is one of the best defensive players in the NFL. Miller is a 3x All-Pro edge rusher that will line up over the Giants’ right tackle and wreak havoc this Sunday.
Opposite of Miller is another quality pass-rusher: Bradley Chubb. The fourth-year player out of NC State has racked up 20.5 career sacks in 34 games, establishing himself as one of the best youn pass-rushers in the league. Chubb will line up over left tackle Andrew Thomas, the Giants’ fourth overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft. The team has set big expectations for Thomas after he had a rookie season filled with peaks and valleys. Chubb will serve as a formidable opponent for Andrew Thomas to kick off his second season against.
Despite being banged up throughout the year, the Denver Broncos defense still managed to total 42 sacks in 2020. Keeping Daniel Jones upright and out of harm’s way is of the utmost importance this season. Jones is looking to establish himself as a franchise quarterback in 2021, but he will only go as far as his offensive line will take him. The New York Giants offensive line needs to set the tone in Week One with a strong performance against a formidable defense.
Denver’s extended Super Bowl hangover…they haven’t reached the NFL postseason since their triumph over Carolina in Super Bowl 50…is only at five years compared to the Jets’ five-plus decades. That postseason drought, however, is tied for second-worst in the league (Arizona and Cincinnati are likewise shamed) behind only the Jets’ decade-long disappearance. What’s particularly troubling in Denver is the fact that their post-Super Bowl rut has stationed them at the bottom of the NFL’s standings. An active streak of four straight losing seasons is their longest such since a nine-year tally mostly accumulated during their AFL days. The 23 wins gained in that span best only four other teams.
The Broncos are a franchise in flux, cursed with both a quarterback controversy and a dominant thrower stationed in a divisional rival’s camp (Patrick Mahomes in Kansas City) with no end to his reign in sight. Head coach Vic Fangio is entering his third season, the proverbial make-or-break campaign, with only a dozen wins under his belt. A once-proud defense is struggling to regain its footing.
Their matchup against the Jets is the conclusion of an intriguing September slate. The Broncos have a prime opportunity to start 3-0 as a Week 2 matchup in Jacksonville is sandwiched by showdowns against the reeling New York franchises. Gang Green’s visit will serve as their 2021 home opener.
Denver and New York will square off for the second straight season. A Thursday night get-together, won by Denver in a 37-28 final, was overshadowed by late extracurriculars said to be exacerbated by ousted defensive coordinator Gregg Williams.
The Skinny on the Broncos
Quarterbacks old and new have taken center stage in Denver’s endeavors of the new decade. Life after Peyton Manning proved to be too much for franchise legend John Elway, who stepped out of the general manager role over this offseason, passing the affair over to George Paton, formerly of the Minnesota Vikings’ front office.
Paton raised the heat on incumbent franchise thrower Drew Lock by acquiring brief Jet Teddy Bridgewater for a day three pick. Bridgewater is by far one of the most inspiring stories in recent NFL memory: last season saw him return to the brotherhood of NFL starting quarterbacks in Carolina after suffering a devastating non-contact injury in Vikings camp in 2016. Paton is very familiar with Bridgewater’s work, as he was the assistant general manager when Minnesota made him a first-round pick in 2014.
Lock is in a precarious position as he, like Fangio, enters his third season in the Rockies with a lot to prove. He tied for the league lead in interception with Carson Wentz (15) last season and is threatening to become the latest failed franchise project in the post-Manning era (joining washouts like Brock Osweiler, Paxton Lynch, and Trevor Siemian). The Missouri alum ended the year on a strong note, posting a 92.1 passer rating over his last four games, but the upcoming preseason slate will be crucial for him to prove can still be a long-term solution for an NFL franchise.
The ultimate shame about Denver’s quarterback issues is that they have a strong, skilled arsenal to work with. Courtland Sutton missed all but two games in 2020 due to a torn ACL, but the Broncos enjoyed promising showings from Tim Patrick, Jerry Jeudy, and tight end Noah Fant. Elsewhere in the backfield, the team lost Phillip Lindsay to Houston but is set to welcome back accomplished veteran Melvin Gordon.
Defensively, the team is set to welcome back franchise face Von Miller, who returns from a devastating peroneal tendon injury that kept him out of the 2020 season entirely. Bradley Chubb rose to the occasion in Miller’s absence, earning his first Pro Bowl nomination and approval on his fifth-year option. The Jets felt Chubb’s wrath firsthand, as Sam Darnold was victimized for 2.5 sacks in the aforementioned Thursday night get-together.
What’s New in Denver?
The Broncos had an early draft pick to work with, choosing to use the ninth overall pick on Alabama defender Patrick Surtain II. His arrival was part of an expensive renovation project in the Denver secondary, as the Broncos bestowed over $65 million in guaranteed money to Justin Simmons, Kyle Fuller, Kareem Jackson, and Ronald Darby.
At $61 million over four seasons, Simmons (Pro Football Focus’ top-ranked safety in 2021 and earner of 16 interceptions since his 2016 entry) is now the highest-paid safety in football. Once Fuller was let go from Chicago, reuniting with Fangio, his former defensive coordinator with the Bears, was a de facto no-brainer. Fuller was added on a one-year deal worth nearly $10 million, it’s clear that Denver expects a lot of him in this prove-it year.
After Surtain’s selection, the Broncos also added Javonte Williams in the second round. The North Carolina alum shared the Tar Heels’ rushing duties with fellow rookie and current Jet Michael Carter. With Gordon in the latter part of his two-year deal, Denver could begin a transition plan that would make Williams their ground man of the future.
How to Beat Them
-Corral the QB
The Jets’ pass rush has a brilliant opportunity to show how far they’ve come from the depths of the 2020 season. That nationally televised loss against the Broncos let America know just how far the Jets had fallen. They failed to take down Denver third-stringer Brett Rypien at any point during the night, letting up a whopping 37 points and 359 yards of offense.
Listing pressure on the quarterback as a key to victory is a football cliche, perhaps the football equivalent of “pucks deep“. But when you’re facing a team that’s dealing with uncertainty in the most important role in football, dealing with a battle that could well extend into the regular season, the pressure becomes more important than ever. The Jets spent this offseason further bolstering a pass rush that was one of the rare silver linings of a 2020 season. If there’s any unit on their current depth chart that can be considered “elite”, that’s it.
Week 3 could also be a breakout for the New York pass rush because of Denver’s issues on the offensive line. Ja’Wuan James opted out of the 2020 season and was later released after suffering a torn Achilles in May. Another former Bear, Bobby Massie, is expected to take over. Division III standout Quinn Meinerz should also raise a little heat on incumbent center Lloyd Cushenberry. Granted an opportunity to build long-term momentum, the Jets must take advantage.
-Neutralize the Weaponry
Denver has stockpiled several offensive weapons that the quarterback, be it Bridgewater, Lock, or someone from the 2022 draft class, could work wonders with. The Jets found out about the group’s potential the hard way last fall: going up against Rypien, an undrafted second-year man making his first NFL start, Patrick tallied 113 yards on six clutch receptions, while Jeudy literally stole his first NFL touchdown from Pierre Desir.
The showdown against Denver will be one of the Jets’ biggest challenges in the early going, especially with Sutton’s potential return to the lineup. But with so many areas to improve after the horrors of 2020, it was almost a guarantee that one or more areas of the roster were going to be neglected. That turned out to be the secondary, which is set to see Bless Austin and Bryce Hall headlined at cornerback. Projected top strong safety Ashtyn Davis is already out for Week 1, while rookies and undrafted journeymen are expected to receive major snaps.
This visit against Denver presents a major opportunity for Robert Saleh and Jeff Ulbrich to show their impact. Whether the Jets capitalize remains, as always, the question.
Denver Broncos linebacker Von Miller may be a force to be reckoned with on the field, but this powerhouse could not be nicer. Miller is one of the most philanthropic people you will ever find, always giving back in any way he can. Whether it be aiding underserved communities or providing opportunities for vision care and correction for disadvantaged youth, Miller makes it his mission to help others.
During these unprecedented times, Miller has found a way to spread joy and turn a negative into a positive. Miller’s latest charitable venture includes a campaign titled “Von Sacks COVID” in which fans can bid for the chance to win absolutely unbelievable prize-two tickets to Super Bowl LV. Winners will also be able to meet with Miller himself. Not many people can say that they mingled with one of the greatest defensive players in the league!
Along with local charities, Feeding Colorado, Brazos Valley Food Bank, and the North Texas Food Bank, Miller’s goal is to help eradicate hunger for all. Noting that some student’s only source of sustenance is from school and many of them have had to close, Miller is hoping to offer assistance to students who are affected by this pandemic. These students suffer from school closures as their only meal source comes from these institutions and little by little Miller is hoping to alleviate some of these issues.
In just a few weeks since this campaign has been enacted, Miller has already been able to help countless underprivileged individuals, providing more than 300,000 meals to those in need and hopes to nearly double it. These meals provide critical nutrition and can truly make a difference in the lives of those who are suffering from hunger due to this ongoing pandemic.
Those looking to win this wonderful package or any other awesome prizes can bid from now until the end of May. These packages are truly unique and vast and offer NFL fans unbelievable experiences that would surely make anyone’s day. They are extraordinarily special and there is something for almost everyone. Some of these fantastic prizes include a video message from Miller, a private cooking class, a signed Von Miller Denver Broncos jersey, tickets to the 2021 ESPY Awards which include hotel accommodations and round-trip airfare and so much more cool prizes. Be sure to visit vonsackscovid.org so you can get your bids in to win your most coveted prize, make a donation, purchase merchandise, or enter to win the sweepstakes, all of which will help Miller reach his goal and stomp out hunger for those with food insecurities. You can also sign up for updates to be in the loop about this incredible campaign.
Offenses are no match for Miller and neither is the Coronavirus. Miller has made it his duty to ease the problems stemming from this pandemic plaguing so many. Throughout his entire career, Miller has assisted numerous individuals in so many ways, and in these times of need, it is no different. Miller is an absolute class act and it is certainly no surprise that he is there for those who need it most. He is truly one-of-a-kind and so admirable and we need more people like this not only in the NFL, but the world!
After the New York Giants were entirely overwhelmed by the Dallas Cowboys in week one, one of their significant weaknesses was exposed. A lack of pass rush talent was clearly on display, as second-year player Lorenzo Carter was nowhere to be found. Also, Veteran Markus Golden wasn’t able to make an impact either.
The current outside linebackers for the Giants are underwhelming, and while one week of poor play shouldn’t tell the entire story, it is hard to imagine any of them will emerge as prolific starters.
So, while this list is far too early and things could certainly change throughout the season, I couldn’t help myself but begin to research other options.
The Giants will have plenty of cap space to go out and sign premium players next offseason, and these two pass rushers could fit the bill.
1.) Von Miller
Denver Broncos top defensive player, Von Miller, has a potential out in his contract after this season. If he elects to take his talents to another team, he can do so.
The Giants could be a destination for Miller, who has amassed no fewer than ten sacks since 2013. He would be an immediate upgrade at the position for the Giants and would bolster the defense considerably. We can also assume the Giants will utilize their first-round pick on the defensive line, rebuilding what was once an intimidating pass rush.
However, Miller will earn $17 million in base salary next season, and he will likely want that if not more in a new contract. The Giants have plenty of cap to work with, but his price tag could be too expensive. Then again, his abilities and experience would immediately upgrade the unit and help the team succeed at an accelerated rate.
2.) Jadeveon Clowney
Alternatively, the Giants could pursue Jadeveon Clowney in a deal. He’s currently signed up for one year with the Seattle Seahawks — recently traded. The issue with Clowney is that he isn’t an extremely productive player. However, he can play multiple positions, and he has the physical traits to be an elite outside linebacker in the league.
In his first game this season, he racked up two tackles and one sack. He hasn’t recorded a season with ten sacks or more so far in his career, but his skill set is undeniable. He would likely cost the Giants somewhere in the $15 million per season range.
Despite this, the Giants did not really commit to improving the pass rush in the 2019 offseason. They only drafted one pass-rusher, Oshane Ximines, in the 2019 NFL Draft. It looks like the team will rely heavily on the young, unproven duo of Oshane Ximines and Lorenzo Carter.
However, there is still a solid, young option in free agency if the Giants want to add more potential pass-rushers to this defense.
Shane Ray Stats And Highlights
Shane Ray was a 1st round pick for the Denver Broncos in 2015, but he never panned out in Denver. The team decided to part ways with Shane Ray this offseason, thanks to the addition of Bradley Chubb in 2018.
Ray never reached his full potential in Denver. He has never started 16 games in a season and has only played in 16 games one time. Interestingly enough, in that one season (2016) where Shane Ray played all 16 games, he recorded a career-high sack total with 8 sacks on the season.
In 2018, Shane Ray did not start a single game for the Broncos. He only played in 11 games. It is hard to tell whether Shane Ray’s lack of playing time and production is his own fault or the fault of the Broncos.
Shane has had some injury troubles in his career, but that is not the only reason his playing time has been limited. The Broncos already have talent at Shane Ray’s position. Extreme talent. Von Miller is one of the NFL’s best pass-rushers and it would be silly to give him less playing time for anyone, let alone Shane Ray.
Shane Ray would not be a full-time starter with the Giants. Instead, he would be a situational pass-rusher. For example, on passing downs, such as third and long, the Giants could put in Shane Ray instead of a run-stuffing lineman and have a little bit extra pass rush.
He never reached his full potential in Denver, but he did flash it every so often. Shane Ray is a speedy edge rusher that can throw a strong bull-rush in the mix at any time. The Giants should sign Shane Ray as a situational pass rusher to give them an edge in the critical moments of close games.
His last name might be Polite… but on the football field, he’s as rude as they come.
Jachai Polite is 3-4 edge rusher out of the University of Florida. He decided to declare for the 2019 NFL Draft after a productive junior season. Polite is expected to be selected in the first round of the draft.
In his junior year, Jachai was able to total an impressive 11 sacks. On top of that, he added 19.5 tackles for loss. Polite was also able to force 6 fumbles and have 4 passes defended.
Jachai Polite has a variety of elite speed-rush moves. He is able to win with the spin move, swim move, and his incredible bend. His bend allows him to win on the outside and make his way back to the quarterback. His frame and flexibility are ideal for NFL edge defenders.
Jachai is a thin edge defender, which is the reason for his speed. He should be expected to run a quick 40 yard-dash. His speed and quickness off the edge could draw comparisons to Von Miller. It is one of his biggest strengths and makes him an exciting prospect in this class.
Jachai Polite is an elite speed-rusher, however, every prospect has his flaws. Polite is not limited as only a speed-rusher, but he is not elite in run defense. He can hold his own, but he will not be a strong, consistent presence against the run. Polite might need to gain weight and strength once he makes it to the NFL.
Too often Jachai gets pushed off of the line and out of the play against the run. He also does not have enough strength and power to move tackles into running lanes. He is a secure tackler and has solid pursuit, so if the runner comes in his area, Jachai will make the play. But he has not consistently shown the ability to go through blockers to get to the runner.
Right now, days before the 2019 NFL Scouting Combine, Jachai Polite is considered a top-25 pick in this year’s draft. However, he has room for improvement. Some added weight and an impressive showing in the bench-press could move him up some teams’ draft boards.
Jachai will be expected to perform near the top of his position’s class in the dash, shuttle, and cone drills because of his speed and quickness. But if he performs well in the strength tests and interviews too, he could improve his stock.
In order for Jachai Polite to be in play for the Giants, a couple of things need to happen. First, the Giants need to decide they do not consider any quarterback in this draft class to be a franchise guy. Second, the Giants need to trade back.
Polite is not expected to be a top 10 pick. But, if the Giants move back between picks 10 and 20, Jachai Polite could be a home run selection along with the added draft capital the Giants would acquire in that trade.