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Broncos aim to end crippling losing streak vs. Jaguars in London

Storm clouds form over Hackett as Wilson set to start
Britain Broncos Football
Posted at 6:56 AM, Oct 28, 2022
and last updated 2022-10-28 16:38:33-04

LONDON — The weather cooperated all week in London, save for the storm clouds gathering over the Broncos.

An international game represents an opportunity to celebrate the NFL, but the Broncos are not in the mood. They own a four-game losing streak, their 2-5 record threatening to spoil their season and turn them into sellers at Tuesday's trade 2 p.m. trade deadline.

Between Russell "High Knees" Wilson's disappointing play and speculation surrounding coach Nathaniel Hackett's job status, it has been a dark time. General manager George Paton, when I asked him on Thursday, said he believes in Hackett and that he's not concerned that Wilson, who turns 34 next month, is a player in decline.

While Wilson struggles to hold press conferences without turning into a meme, he nailed it when he explained Wednesday, "We can control the outside noise by how we play."

Hackett said Friday after practice that Wilson will start, "barring any setback." There was really no doubt based on the improved mobility the nine-time Pro Bowler showed this week in practice.

“Russell’s always going to think he can go, that’s what you love about the guy,” Hackett said. “He’s always going to want to be out there and he’s a true competitor. For us, we wanted to be sure we gave him time.”

The pressure remains on Hackett and Wilson.

Just win a game, and the temperature in the room will cool a few degrees. My Denver7 keys to victory:

Find offensive identity
There is a reason the Broncos average 14.3 points per game. They have no identity offensively. They don't pass well (20th), they don't run well (19th) and they stink on third down (31.4 percent conversion rate). The answer lies in balance, in getting under center to allow the line to become brutish and make the plays less predictable.

Return of RussellMania
Wilson married Ciara in a 19th century Peckforton Castle. He calls red velvet cake, served at the reception, his favorite dessert. It would be nice to see Wilson celebrate again. He has never lost four straight starts in his career. Even with a healing left hamstring, Wilson must show some mobility with a moving pocket. He's not transitioning to the progression reads. Time to keep it simple and do what he did for 10 years in Seattle.

Don't fear the ground
Melvin Gordon and Latavius Murray figure to share the workload. Murray played well in London for the Saints a few weeks ago. The Jags defensive line is stout, anchored by first overall pick Travon Walker. But Jacksonville yields 110.3 yards per game on the ground. So Denver must set up play action with a commitment to running enough.

Turn over Trevor
Trevor Lawrence is a terrific talent. But he's not Andrew Luck or Josh Allen. He is still prone to a mistake or two. The Broncos need to pressure him. It won't be easy. He's only been sacked 10 times. The Broncos have to add two to that total on Sunday.

Special teams perfection
The Broncos' special teams have wobbled considerably after a strong start. It has quietly created speculation about coach Dwayne Stukes' status, if for no other reason, a notable change could happen during the bye week if the Broncos lose. Here's the deal. The Broncos rank bottom third in punt return gross (23rd) and field goal percentage (78.9 percent). The Broncos can afford no more missteps in the game's margins.

Defense stands up
The Broncos defense deserves better. They have allowed eight touchdowns. They are the first team to allow fewer than 17 points per game through seven weeks and not have a winning record. I could see Pat Surtain II making a game-changing play. The truth is, if the defense doesn't score I am not sure the Broncos are good enough to win.

Compete, compete, compete
The losing is bad enough. But Broncos Country wants to see this team compete, to play to the whistle. The mistakes, the penalties and lack offense have been too much to take. Perhaps, this field trip can allow this team to finally play loose.

RENCK PREDICTION: Broncos 18, Jaguars 15