Beating the New York Giants: Game plan for the Denver Broncos

Shelby Harris. Credit: Bob Donnan, USA TODAY Sports.
Shelby Harris. Credit: Bob Donnan, USA TODAY Sports.

Regardless of their great health, having a solid game plan is necessary for the Denver Broncos to beat the New York Giants. The pressure to start fast has to be felt by the Broncos and head coach Vic Fangio.

Offensively, the Giants have several playmakers, highlighted by running back Saquan Barkley and Kenny Golladay. Additionally, the New York defense is solid, powered by stud defensive lineman Leonard Williams and a much-improved secondary.

This first week will provide insight into how offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur will attack defenses. Additionally, head coach/defensive play-caller Vic Fangio finally has the pieces to call games to create opportunities for turnovers. All in all, fans will see the team plans to win games week to week in 2021.

Earlier this week, Mile High Sports broke down key individual matchups, including Williams, the Broncos must win to get a victory in Week 1. And now we look at how the Broncos game plan to beat the New York Football Giants of the NFC East.

Broncos offensive game plan versus the Giants’ defense

The Giants improved over the last eight games of the season overall. Their defense improved significantly as the team began to run more of a sub-package look. The passing defense of the Giants ranked 22nd in the NFL in DVOA last season, anchored by solid cornerbacks in James Bradberry and Adore Jackson. New York also ranks 19th in rush defense DVOA in 2020, but those numbers are a bit understated.

“Last season was a tale of two halves for Giants defensive coordinator Patrick Graham,” said Seth Galina of Pro Football Focus. “In the first eight weeks of the season, New York ranked 15th in defensive efficiency, posting a barely positive EPA (Expected Points Added) allowed per play mark (.056). But in the back half of the season, the unit slotted in at seventh-best, producing a negative EPA allowed per play mark (-0.040).”

To challenge the Giants, the Broncos boast a strong backfield comprised Melvin Gordon and Javonte Williams. The Broncos should use similar run concepts utilizing multiple tight ends as they have throughout the preseason, with Noah Fant, Albert Okwuegbunam, and Eric Saubert. Because of those three talented tight ends, the Broncos have the personnel to utilizes big (2 tight ends) or jumbo (3 tight ends) sets. Look for the orange and blue to establish the run early and often. Though they expect to be effective running the ball, just piling up attempts will help the offense immensely in the passing game.

The Broncos most likely will be with all of their main passing game contributors, including Fant who is questionable but trending towards playing. With or without Fant, though, the Broncos would be served well to attack the middle of the field in the passing game.

And it should be noted the team will likely take few deep shots. Most likely, they will look to utilize the short to the intermediate area of the field between the hashes. That will allow the Broncos to attack the Giant middle linebackers Blake Martinez and Tae Crowder. Both Martinez and Crowder were exposed last season in pass coverage.

This plays to the strength of quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, who played well this preseason utilizing multiple actions with his new team.

Shurmur can use the play-action or run-action off to get chunk plays. The Broncos’ new trigger man has a personnel advantage this week. The team’s abundance of quality tight ends will help him get some easy throws while creating mismatches with play-action.

Look for the Broncos to use their tight ends to put pressure on the safeties with seam routes, as it will create a hole behind the linebackers and in between the safeties.

The Broncos can use the “Dagger” concept to take advantage of the Giants’ propensity to run a two-deep look. When a tight end runs the seam, Courtland Sutton and Jerry Jeudy can work the middle of the field on a deep “dig” route (or in). The concept can lead to big gains, similar to Jeudy and Bridgewater’s connection versus the Seattle Seahawks in Week 2 of the preseason. 

Plays like that will cause the defense to play deeper and allow the run game to gain more traction. If the Broncos can get chunk plays using this concept, they’ll be in a prime position to score often against the Giants. 

Denver defensive game plan versus the New York offense

Defensively, the game plan will likely be relatively vanilla for two reasons. One, they have superior player-to-player matchups. Also, quarterback Daniel Jones does not cause defensive coordinators to stay up at night. So, the Broncos will most likely stick to their man-quarters scheme with matching personnel.

Meaning, the team will likely run their nickel defense but with nose tackle Mike Purcell to log up running lanes. With Saquon Barkley likely suiting up for the Giants this week, the Broncos should plan on trying to stop the run.

If the Giants are limited and have to pass, the Broncos like their chances. Jones and the Giants were near the bottom of the league in offensive passing DVOA in 2020 per Football Outsiders.

Therefore, the orange and blue should look to maximize pressure opportunities against a poor offensive line for New York. Bradley Chubb is unlikely to contribute this week. However, the Broncos still have Von Miller, Dre’Mont Jones and Shelby Harris to create a formidable pass rush. Malik Reed, Johnathon Cooper and DeShawn Williams provide depth to come at Jones in waves.

Fangio can get the Giants to slide protection and bring free rushers from the backside by utilizing an overloaded look on one side. That can maximize the effectiveness of Miller and Reed and allow them to have one-on-one pass-rush opportunities. If so, both players have favorable matchups against below-average offensive tackles Andrew Thomas and Nate Solder.

From that look, the Broncos can create further confusion for the Giants with defensive line stunts.

That is when the edge defender in the defensive front loops behind the interior pass rusher, leading to free runs at the quarterback. Miller and ex-Bronco Derek Wolfe made a living off of doing just that for many years. In training camp this season, third-year defensive lineman Jones has become Miller’s partner in crime. 

Look for Jones and Miller to use two-man games to confuse the Giants lineman and create pressure in key passing situations. The Broncos can get home using minimal blitz packages. If so, they will maximize their coverage players and likely get a few turnovers in the process.

Broncos – Giants kicks off at 2:25 p.m. MT on FOX from the Meadowlands in New York. 

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