The Broncos have the Jacksonville Jaguars on tap for this weekend. The Jags come to Denver with a 2-3 record on the season but the Broncos know that Jacksonville has played all five of its opponents close this season. Denver realizes that it is up against a talented football team, regardless of what its record may be coming in.
“The average fan looks at them and they see a 2-3 record and they don’t see the football team,” Head Coach Mike Shanahan said. “That’s usually indicative of most people. You are looking at the record and not how they have been playing. Our football team is well aware of that and we will be ready to play.”
Brandon Stokley agreed with his coach and said the Broncos are focusing on the fact that Jacksonville is a dangerous football team despite its record.
“They have got a lot of talent there,” he said. “They are always well coached. You can’t look at records in the NFL. You just have to worry about the team and what they do and prepare yourself for them and go out and execute — that is the bottom line — execution.”
Jacksonville is a good football team and its wins over the past five seasons is a testament to that. The Jaguars have the NFL’s seventh best win-loss record since 2004 at 42-27. The Broncos have the fifth best at 43-26.
Head Coach Mike Shanahan said that kind of consistency hasn’t gone unnoticed.
“They know how to win,” he said. “They have been very consistent, being 11-5 last year, beating Pittsburgh on the road (in the playoffs), playing New England very well at their place (playoffs) and they have the same football team basically back. Our hands are full and we are looking forward to the contest. They manhandled us last year.”
Shanahan was referring to Jacksonville’s 23-14 win at Denver last season. The Jaguars ball control kept the football out of the hands of the Broncos offense. Jacksonville owned a 38:42 to 21:18 time of possession advantage over the Broncos in that contest.
The Jaguars, like the Broncos, are known for their ability to run the ball. Since 2003 the Jags are the fourth most productive running team in the league at 133.3 yards per contest. The Broncos are second with 143.5
Jacksonville had that same kind of production last season against Denver, rushing the ball for 186 yards and a touchdown.
Shanahan said his team is up for a good test against the Jaguars’ running game.
“We have given up a number of big plays with our rushing defense,” he said. “It’s a challenge to our team. I know they are going to come in here and run the football just like they did last year. It will be a great challenge to our defense to slow them down.”
The Jaguars are the Broncos’ second straight home opponent in as many weeks and both Shanahan and quarterback Jay Cutler said it is always nice to have home field advantage on your side when facing a tough opponent.
“The second half of the season we are on the road a lot,” Cutler said. “We had to take advantage of the first half of the schedule being at home. It is tough to go on the road and win. I don’t care where you go or what your record is, it is tough and we learned that in Kansas City.”
Shanahan said the fans’ presence made a difference last week against Tampa and he expects it will once again against Jacksonville.
“We have always been good at home,” he said. “We have a great crowd that helps us with crowd noise. It was very indicative versus Tampa Bay. That was a big plus with a couple of check-offs that they couldn’t make. We got a couple of big plays with our crowd. Hopefully our crowd is into it just like they were against Tampa Bay, and we can take advantage of the home field advantage.”
One thing the Broncos do have working against them this weekend is injuries.
Running back Selvin Young and tight end Tony Scheffler are out against Jacksonville with left groin strains. Wide receiver Eddie Royal suffered a sprained ankle against Tampa and according to Shanahan his status is probable for Sunday.
Cutler said despite the fact that the team might be missing some pieces on Sunday; he has confidence that his teammates will step up.
“We will be fine, and we will get through this,” he said. “It is part of the NFL. You are going to lose guys, and you prepare for it throughout the season and throughout training camp getting guys reps. We feel good about it. ”
Stokley said injuries happen, and it is up to the team to adjust accordingly.
“That is life in the NFL,” he said. “Everyone has injuries, you know you are going to have injuries, and it is how you adapt to those injuries. You keep playing and keep moving forward and don’t become negative because of the injuries.”
The Broncos know that if they get caught up in looking at the big picture, a 4-1 team against a 2-3 team, it becomes much easier to lose sight of what they are ultimately working towards — putting their best football team on the field they can each and every week.
Shanahan said he is happy with the maturity his squad has shown by not getting caught up in wins, losses and fast starts.
“These players know that this is a week-by-week business,” he said. “We have been through so many scenarios—teams that started out 0-3, 0-4 or 4-0—all the scenarios that occur; sometimes with injuries, sometimes just the mental state of the football team. That’s what we try to do. We don’t get caught up in the record. We try to go out there each day and improve and we really don’t care what people say about us because it’s what we do the next week or the next day that really counts. I think our football team is mature enough to understand that you have a chance to be successful if you take care of business on a day-to-day basis.”
-Jake Grilley, DenverBroncos.com