|09-20-2007, 01:09 AM||#1|
KFFL Writer/Fantasy Scout
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: The OC
RMN: Broncos prepared for tough going on the ground vs. Jags
Broncos prepared for tough going on the ground vs. Jags
By Lee Rasizer, Rocky Mountain News
September 19, 2007
ENGLEWOOD – It sure looked like the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Yep, that was them all right.
Light blue uniforms. Angry cat on the helmet.
Must be imposters, though.
This is not a franchise that gives up 282 rushing yards in a single game, as the highlights Travis Henry watched Sept. 9 appeared to show. Henry thought he knew that much, at least, having managed just slightly above that monster total in six combined games against the Jaguars over the previous six seasons.
But there it was, as clear as HD – Tennessee Titans running back Chris Brown and Co. moving left, right and center on the ground, gutting one of the league’s premier run defenses of the last decade.
"I was shocked," Broncos running back and current NFL rushing leader Henry said. "I was like, ‘Whoa, Jacksonville doesn’t usually do stuff like that.’"
Or never does, more accurately.
The humongous rushing total that Tennessee put up, led by Brown’s 175-yard career-best performance, was a franchise-high against the Jaguars. This is a franchise that has been ranked in the top-15 stopping the run every year but once since 1999, including a fourth-place finish last season.
Henry’s reasoning for the flat performance was simple.
"I knew they didn’t have their stuff together yet," he told himself shortly after digesting the Titans clips a couple weeks ago, adding with a laugh, "That ain’t going to be happening every week against no Jacksonville."
And a week later, it didn’t.
The Atlanta Falcons ran about half as much (25 times) and churned out 200 fewer yards on the ground last Sunday.
Now, that’s the Jaguars defense to which Henry had grown accustomed -- the one that has limited him to a career-low 52.7 yards per game on just a 2.7 per-carry average during his first two professional stops in Buffalo and Tennessee.
It’s also the run defense Henry expects to see this weekend when the Jaguars (1-1) visit his Broncos (2-0) at Invesco Field at Mile High.
"I haven’t been able to run effectively on them. It’s going to be tough," Henry said. "But I know all about them. I know the players over there. I’ve been playing them since I’ve been in the league, so I also know what they’re capable of doing."
If one game symbolizes Henry’s career against Jacksonville – he’s played them every year of his pro career except 2002, with a single-game high of 75 yards – it was a 21-carry, 26-yard effort with the Bills five seasons back. He scored his three career touchdowns vs. the Jaguars in that game. But it was the usual punishing effort, led by Jacksonville’s stout defensive tackle tandem of John Henderson and Marcus Stroud that may be the best in football.
"They’re so big and they two-gap a lot on zone plays, and they’re so strong in their two-gap that they make it seem like it’s going to be open inside, then they get off blocks and boom!," Henry said in explaining his lack of individual success in the series. "I’ve just got to be a little more patient in the running game and know early on it’s going to be tough and when they do give me a crease, get what I can get."
That philosophy has served Henry well so far.
He’s pounded away, and then broken the big run the last two weeks. His 267 yards have come on 49 carries that have resulted in stops for losses just four times, including twice within his first three attempts this season.
While he may only get a couple yards, he keeps his feet moving and makes himself thin in the hole instead of a square target, to avert getting stopped in the backfield. Those escape acts drew Broncos guard Montrae Holland’s attention during an offensive film study session Monday following the win over the Oakland Raiders, a game in which the running back rambled for 128 yards.
"I said, ‘Man, I don’t see how in the world you get up through those cracks," Holland recalled. "But that’s why I love you."
That’s the short of it. The long is that Henry already has nine runs of 10 yards or more after Denver managed just 55 such rushes all last season.
"Really and truly, I was better this past game than the first game," the running back said. "I think I’ll get better the more I get comfortable and confident. The more I play I think I can do bigger things."
Jacksonville coach Jack Del Rio on Wednesday labeled Henry a "perfect fit" for Denver’s system, with the requisite toughness and vision to succeed big.
"He just runs so hard," Denver left tackle Matt Lepsis said when asked about Henry’s start this year. "There’s a lot of players where in the past it seems like there would be tackles for loss but you look over there and he’s running down the sidelines for like a 15-yard gain. It doesn’t seem, even with broken plays, that we’re getting second-and-12 or second-and-13."
The last two times Denver’s faced Jacksonville that’s about all it could muster.
The Broncos managed just 79 rushing yards on 33 attempts in games in 2004 and 2005. Like Henry, they’ve had difficulty dealing with Jacksonville’s physical front seven, complemented by fast flowing safeties.
"They’ve got athletes all over the place," Broncos guard Chris Myers said.
The Jaguars figure to have those players positioned in a less scatter-shot manner than the opener. That game still resonates for the club, since it currently ranks last in the league in rushing yards allowed (182.0) and is 28th in yards per ground attempt (4.9).
Still, Jacksonville has allowed only 20 points and four times have held teams to field goals inside its 20-yard-line.
"We’ve got to be prepared for their best," Denver tight end Daniel Graham said.
That’s all Henry’s seen in living color, some eye-opening highlights notwithstanding.
"They’ve got a good defense," the running back maintained. "Don’t get it twisted."
|09-20-2007, 01:20 AM||#2|
Ring of Famer
Join Date: Sep 2004
We have read a lot of stuff about the Broncos having "their work cut out for them". I wonder if there are any pieces from the other teams that say they have their "work cut out for them". Do they believe the game against the Broncos will be tough, or do they believe they will just skip through "winning the game" and go directly to predictions of a blowout? I am not talking about the fans......
|09-20-2007, 02:41 AM||#3|
Ring of Famer
Join Date: Mar 2006
|09-20-2007, 02:46 AM||#4|
A verbis ad verbera
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: Long Beach
Plus a few years back Foster cut Spicer and broke his leg. The Jags hate the Broncos and complain all the time about our cut blocking. Reggie Hayward went over there and had a few things to say about Broncos being dirty. These teams don't like each other and I see Sunday being a really physical rough game with maybe even a few cheap shots.
|09-20-2007, 03:51 AM||#6|
Join Date: Aug 2005
Jag dont scare me ....
|09-20-2007, 04:49 AM||#7|
Tebowing the long haul
Join Date: Apr 2004
Location: TX, USA
Obviously, this would be a nice confidence builder for Henry if we could get him over 100.