Like the New York Jets the Denver Broncos finished the 2019 season strong and are hoping some of that momentum carries over into 2020. Rookie Drew Lock started the final 5 games and the Broncos went 4-1 over that span as Lock is primed to be the guy they have been looking for since Peyton Manning retired. The Broncos come to Metlife on a short week as the two teams square off Week 4 on Thursday night football.
Coaching – Vic Fangio was long one of the best defensive coordinators in the league finally got his shot as a head coach with Denver in 2019. Fangio went a respectable 7-9 with a revolving door at QB in Joe Flacco, Brandon Allen, and finally Drew Lock and tasked with retooling an aging Broncos defense that had reached its ceiling years before. Pat Shurmur was brought over to be the OC for 2020 and while he was proven to be a woeful HC with the Giants and Browns he has proven to be a capable OC putting together good offenses with subpar QB’s like Sam Bradford, Case Keenum, and Eli Manning.Personnel – The Broncos defense has gone through some changes in recent years but is still packed with talent. Von Miller and Bradley Chubb make up one of the 5 best pass rush duos in all of football. Alexander Johnson and Justin Simmons are budding stars at linebacker and safety respectively and they brought in AJ Bouye to replace the departed Chris Harris Jr.
On offense the Broncos have done an Anti-Jets and surrounded their young QB with a plethora of talent around him. Courtland Sutton is one of the best young WRs in the game and the Broncos used their first 2 picks in the 2020 draft on heralded WR prospects Jerry Jeudy and KJ Hamler. Noah Fant was their 2019 first round pick as a mismatch TE and Melvin Gordon and Phillip Lindsay, both pro bowlers in their own right make one hell of a RB duo. This offense will go as far as Drew Lock can take it and if he takes a big second year leap it’s got the potential to be one of the best in the entire league.
Potential Weaknesses – Drew Lock has a lot of new pieces around him. He is also going into a new system in Shurmur’s offense. With this abbreviated offseason it’s easy to see why there could be some growing pains for Lock and the Broncos and having to go to Metlife on a short week does not bode well for them. In his 5 starts Lock was mostly a check down QB rarely progressing off his first read. Lock needs reps with his team the most and its very likely he will not have enough by week 4 which the Jets should strive to fully take advantage of.
Matchup with the Jets – Gregg Williams is an aggressive coach who likes to send a lot of pressure at opposing QB’s which often causes young ones to struggle. When Williams was with the Browns in 2018 Darnold struggled mightily in their matchup and last year 2nd year QB’s Josh Allen and Baker Mayfield also struggled against a Williams lead defense.The Jets should have no problem stopping the run which going to force Drew Lock to beat them with his arm. Sam Darnold does not have the weapons Drew Lock has but he is the more naturally talented QB. In Week 4 Lock will be making his 9th start on the road in primetime. Sam Darnold cannot afford to be outplayed by a more inexperienced, less talented QB at home, he needs to outplay Lock significantly and show why he is the franchise QB many of us believe he is. The Jets have a tough opening 3 games and it’s there is a realistic scenario where they are 0-3 heading into this game. They match up well with Denver and should win this game because if they do not it is going to be a real long season filled with more questions than answers.