JACKSONVILLE – Senior writer John Oehser takes a final look at the week that was around the Jaguars as they prepared to play the defending Super Bowl champion Denver Broncos at EverBank Field Sunday at 1 p.m.
The sight is familiar – like really, really familiar.
That doesn't make the sight a good one for the Jaguars – not when what they will be seeing Sunday is the offense of the Denver Broncos and Head Coach Gary Kubiak.
The Broncos' offense doesn't get nearly as much attention as their stifling, Super Bowl-defense, but it's a concern. It's very definable and easily identified because it's very similar to what Kubiak has been running in the NFL for a very long time.
What it isn't is very easy to stop. In fact, it's quite the opposite.
"At the end of the day, he [Kubiak] is going to what he's known to do," Jaguars strong safety Johnathan Cyprien said.
The Broncos – who will play Sunday with rookie Paxton Lynch starting at quarterback for injured Trevor Siemian – feature a distinctive, zone-blocking downhill running-style offense that's designed not only to run effectively but to set up the play-action pass.
It's a scheme similar to what the Broncos long ran under longtime Head Coach Mike Shanahan, and a scheme that Kubiak utilized not only as a head coach with Houston from 2006 to 2013, but as a coordinator with the Baltimore Ravens in 2014.
Many of the Jaguars' current defensive coaches and players faced Kubiak's scheme when he was with the Texans, and again when the Jaguars played the Ravens in 2014.
"It is just a zone [run-blocking] scheme," Jaguars defensive coordinator Todd Wash said. "You knock it out, you knock it out – and then all of a sudden here comes a 12-yard run. The back is seeing it and one [defender] gets cut and he [the back] cuts and goes. What they try to do is stretch you and get you running and then cut back on you.
"You can play your gaps and be sound and all that stuff and then all of a sudden one guy is out of his gap and it is usually a big play. It is tough to defend, but consistently you have to stay in your gaps and fight off cut blocks."
As important to Kubiak's scheme is the ability to run play-action once the run is established. That approach has succeeded with a variety of quarterbacks, and it isn't likely to change with Lynch playing for Siemian.
"What we've seen with that style of offense is they have a certain philosophy whatever quarterback plays," Jaguars Head Coach Gus Bradley said. "It doesn't change dramatically. We are aware of that and we looked at both of them, we always do, so any tweaks probably won't be obvious."
Jaguars offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett this week said quarterback Blake Bortles' decision-making improved Sunday in Buffalo, as did the third-year veteran's reaction in the pocket. Hackett specifically said Bortles showed an improved ability to adapt to something unexpected. Hackett said earlier in the season Bortles in that scenario might drop back and stay in the pocket a little too long and have something bad happen. Against the Bills, Hackett said Bortles "stepped back and felt the rhythm and was like, 'It's not going to happen … I'm going to go take off or I'm going to check a guy or I'm going to do something else.' He kept his timing and his rhythm when the pass patterns are starting — just his knowledge of it and his feeling for it is starting to increase."
Running back Chris Ivory (hamstring) is among four Jaguars players ruled out for Sunday, with the others being wide receiver Allen Hurns (hamstring), wide receiver Rashad Greene (Achilles) and defensive end Jared Odrick (shoulder).
Tight end Julius Thomas (back) was listed as doubtful on the final injury report of the week Friday.
Ivory's injury means T.J. Yeldon and Denard Robinson likely will share carries at running back. Yeldon is dealing with an ankle injury, and Jaguars Head Coach Gus Bradley on Friday said Yeldon's role and the extent of his playing time could be a game-time decision Sunday.
Wide receiver Marqise Lee likely will start for Hurns opposite Allen Robinson. Lee has been playing outside in three-receiver sets this season, with Hurns moving to the slot in those situations. Veteran Bryan Walters could play an extensive slot-receiver role Sunday with veteran Arrelious Benn also playing an increased role.
Rookie defensive end Yannick Ngakoue, the Jaguars' leader with six sacks this season, was listed as questionable entering the weekend. With Odrick out again, Tyson Alualu will make his sixth start of the season at strong-side defensive end.
"They [the Broncos] are a good team. They're the defending champions. They win because of their defense and have done it for some time now. It's a great opportunity for us. They present a number of challenges on the edge [with linebackers Von Miller, DeMarcus Ware and Shane Ray]. They do a great job of rotating and finding matchups and weaknesses they may see. They do a great job going after it."
--Jaguars left tackle Kelvin Beachum
"He expects himself to be elite and according to me, he is an elite linebacker in this league. He makes a lot of plays. He makes us go on defense with all the checks. He gets us lined up. He gets everyone in position to make plays. In my opinion he is playing at an extremely high level."
--Wash on Jaguars middle linebacker Paul Posluszny