Denver Broncos: Avoiding the rush from Khalil Mack, Raiders

The Denver Broncos didn’t have much success keeping Khalil Mack at bay last season. What will they do on Sunday to limit the backfield pressure?

It’s safe to say Denver Broncos fans are wondering how the team will have adapted to the pass rush skill of one Khalil Mack on Sunday Night Football against the Oakland Raiders.

Are we concerned?

No. No we are not.

The fact remains, however, that the Broncos need to make sure Khalil Mack doesn’t have another five-sack game against this offensive line, which hasn’t been great again this season. The memories of last year’s matchups against the Raiders aren’t exactly helping the Broncos coaching staff sleep at night, but the two teams were able to split the season series despite poor play generally from both sides.

For the Broncos offensively, it seems too simple to me to keep the Raiders — or any other — pass rush at bay. The solution is to move into an up-tempo offense, establishing the ground game early on, and moving the pocket with play-action pass plays.

The Raiders have struggled this season in two areas in particular:

1. In home games

2. Defensively in general

Oakland obviously still boasts one of the best individual pass rushers in the league in Khalil Mack, and as is the case with most division games, you can throw record out the window. After all, the Raiders did beat the Broncos in a championship season a year ago.

The Broncos need to make sure the Raiders continue to struggle in those two particular areas I just mentioned, and the way they are going to do that is by controlling the tempo offensively and making sure the Raiders are guessing as to the location of the pocket.

For as much as the play-action bootleg is a staple of the Gary Kubiak offense, it seems we haven’t seen it a whole heck of a lot this year. That’s a let-down to me. The success of this offense, at least in the Mike Shanahan days, was due large in part to the Broncos’ ability to find gold down the field on deep strikes off of play-action.

Especially with the struggles of the offensive line this year, it would seem wise for the Broncos to mask that as best they can by getting Siemian on the move, allowing the Broncos’ two star receivers more time to escape defensive backs and get open.

But maybe that’s too simplistic…

The Broncos are going to certainly try and establish a balanced attack against Oakland, which ranks 27th against the pass, 28th against the run. The defense of Jack Del Rio has been very poor overall this season, but this is a game in prime time that they will get up for. The Broncos have to execute and exploit those weaknesses, not playing into the emotion of the game.

That’s where it helps to have a cool customer like Trevor Siemian at quarterback. Siemian was just named a team captain for the second half of the season, and the Broncos are seemingly willing to ride this thing out with the former seventh round pick.

There are plenty of Broncos fans who don’t agree with that or even like it, but in games that Siemian has started, the Broncos are 6-1. They are a holding call away (in San Diego) from potentially being 7-0 in Siemian starts despite how up-and-down he has performed all year.

He’s helped this team win games, and he needs to do his part on Sunday night to get the offense in a rhythm, and put the defense in position to pin its ears back.

Establish the run, move the pocket, and you’ll beat the Raiders.

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