3 Up 3 Down: Pass rush bounces back versus Jaguars

Sep 29, 2019; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Broncos outside linebacker Von Miller (58) pass rushes at Jacksonville Jaguars offensive tackle Jawaan Taylor (75) in the fourth quarter at Empower Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

They keep finding a way to do it.

Every week it seems like it can’t get worse or more painful, but without fail the Broncos have found a way to one-up themselves in terms of pain dished out every single week.

Unfortunately for Broncos Country, that pain is very much self-inflicted. Here are three of the units that inflicted the greatest amount of suffering on the team, and three that provide a slight glimmer at the end of what appears to be a very long, very dark tunnel.

3 Up

Pass Rush

No longer will the Broncos and their fans be forced to hear about the three-game sack drought and if Denver should consider shipping Von Miller elsewhere.

Miller collected two sacks against the Jaguars on Sunday, including the 100th sack of his career. He became just the 34th player in NFL history to reach that milestone, silencing the boo-birds in approval of such a hypothetical trade. And, he was the fourth-fastest to reach the century mark in NFL history.

Though, Miller wasn’t the only Broncos player to get on the board. Bradley Chubb, Malik Reed and Demarcus Walker each collected a sack of their own on a day that battered and hobbled Gardner Minshew.

Receiving Core

Three key Broncos receivers stepped up in a big way Sunday against the talented Jacksonville defense.

Noah Fant was the first to get things rolling with his 25-yard touchdown off a tight end screen on the Broncos’ second drive of the day. He finished with just 31 yards on two catches, but again demonstrated his potential as a game-breaking tight end once he puts the pieces together.

Courtland Sutton continues to look like a second-round home run as he led the team in receptions and collected the fifth and sixth touchdowns of his career, which also happened to be his first two at home in Denver, and his first two of the season.

Sutton’s fellow SMU Mustang, Emmanuel Sanders, once again looked like a man reborn. Sanders somehow looks better after tearing his Achilles tendon, and has consistently been the engine to the Broncos’ passing game, as he led the team in receiving yards for the second game this season.

Special Teams

The third unit for the Broncos has been a weak point for years, but against the Jags, they delivered a solid performance.

After missing extra points in each of his last two games (though he was saved on the first miss by a penalty), Brandon McManus was flawless Sunday, going 3-for-3 on extra points and connecting on his lone field goal attempt of the day.

The kick coverage unit did an incredible job pinning the Jaguars back deep consistently. It was a rarity in this game when the Jags started with the ball outside their own 25. That may not seem like a big deal but it’s incredibly important and could’ve been the difference today if not for Leonard Fournette’s 81-yard run.

3 Down

Turnover Differential

So much was made of the Broncos’ sack drought, when the real focus should’ve been on the seriously concerning turnover differential, which only got worse on Sunday.

Sacks can decide games but rarely do. Turnovers, on the other hand, are arguably the very most importatn determining factor in a game, and the defense has come up empty-handed once again.

To put things in perspective, the only team with a worse turnover differential currently is the Miami Dolphins, and the Broncos entered the week as the league’s only team without a takeaway. That will once again be the case entering Week 5.

Rich Scangarello

Rich Scangarello once again made some head-scratching decisions with his play calling against Jacksonville, as he becomes harder and harder to defend each week.

This week the Broncos ran the ball on a mere 15 designed runs out of 54 offensive plays. Scangarello was insistent on throwing the ball against a Jacksonville secondary that’s strong even without Jalen Ramsey.

The Broncos spent more time in the lead than they did in Weeks 1-3 combined, and yet finished the game with fewer rushing attempts than any other week. That’s absolutely unacceptable.

Run Defense

The Broncos entered Sunday’s game as Pro Football Focus’ seventh-highest graded run defense unit, but looked like one of the league’s worst against Jacksonville.

The Jaguars ranked as the league’s tenth-worst rushing attack, and still toted the ball for 269 yards on the ground, averaging over seven yards per carry.

Leonard Fournette was the one that stabbed the dagger into the back of the Broncos, finishing them off with an 81-yard carry that made the Denver defenders look like a bunch of middle schoolers attempting to wrestle down a grown man.