JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Barbecue smells wafting through the air did not assault the senses. No fans flipped off the visiting team's arriving bus. Traffic moved steadily.
Nothing about Sunday morning felt like a big deal. But there's no denying that is the Broncos' biggest game du jour. With their season hanging in the balance, Denver turns to rookie quarterback Paxton Lynch. Lynch grew up in the Orlando area and visited Jaguars training camp as a kid. He had never been to an NFL game until he suited up for one, but got a taste of the league in Jacksonville. With a throng of supporters making the trip to support him -- "Oh boy, luckily my parents took care of that" -- Lynch knows he needs to deliver.
So wake up, and digest my Three Big Things:
1) Let the kids loose
The Broncos need a jolt on offense. Who better to provide it than their young players? The Broncos must play to Lynch's strengths. Use him in shotgun in wide sets. He's comfortable there, and it will help him get the ball out more quickly. This could be a one-week proposition. Trevor Siemian did light stretching in pregame, and was not wearing a boot on his sprained left foot, a promising sign. The Broncos' offense line continues to have issues, and the right tackle position bears watching. Coach Gary Kubiak said Donald Stephenson and Ty Sambrailo will receive reps. Stephenson believes he should be the starter, but there's no guarantee he will. If the Broncos win, this figures to be a breakout game for rookie running back Devontae Booker. Don't be afraid to employ him on wide zone plays and on dump offs.
2) Home run derby
The Jaguars boast a fast, athletic secondary. They struggle to produce interceptions, but are strong in coverage. It leaves tight end A.J. Derby as the X-factor. After the injuries and struggles of Jeff Heuerman and Vernon Davis, the Broncos finally appear to have a consistent seam threat in Derby. Use him liberally.
3) Head to the house
The Broncos need a defensive touchdown. It's not fair. It's a statistical aberration. But this team spins off the defense, and doesn't lose when the defenders score. Seriously, they don't. They have scored nine defensive touchdowns the past two years and are 8-0 in those games. Too much to ask? Then how about a 30-yard punt burst or 45-yard kick return from rookie Kalif Raymond to set up a short field and critical drive?
No surprises. Trevor Siemian, Marlon Brown, Bennie Fowler, Lorenzo Doss, Casey Kreiter, Connor McGovern, Billy Turner.