- Mike DiRocco, ESPN Staff Writer
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Who's the starter? Quarterback Chad Henne completed 27 of 42 passes for 303 yards. He did throw two interceptions, but both came after deflections at the line of scrimmage. Coach Gus Bradley, however, was non-committal about whether Henne would remain the starter even after Blaine Gabbert (strained left hamstring) is cleared to return. “He did some very good things, and that's what he's supposed to do,” Bradley said. “He's supposed to come in and lead our team. He's supposed to come in and make plays. He's supposed to come in and [get] the playmakers the ball, and he did some of those things.” Henne still made some significant mistakes. He missed a wide-open Clay Harbor on the first offensive play. He also could have run for a first down on fourth-and-3 from the Denver 11-yard line but threw behind Justin Blackmon in the end zone. Still, Henne has outplayed Gabbert, who has missed three starts because of injuries, all season.
Umbrella coverage: The Jaguars' game plan against Peyton Manning was pretty simple: Play two-deep safeties to eliminate big plays down the field and try to flood the secondary with defenders. It worked pretty well. Manning threw for a season-low 295 yards and two touchdowns and was intercepted for only the second time this season. According to ESPN Stats & Information, the Jaguars sent four or fewer rushers on 41 of Manning's 42 dropbacks. They blitzed one time and Manning beat them with a 3-yard touchdown pass to tight end Julius Thomas. Jaguars defenders limited Broncos receivers to season-low 116 yards after the catch and forced Manning to throw to the running backs a season-high 14 times. The result was a season-low in points, total yards, and passing yards.
Brown contributes: Lost in Justin Blackmon's 14-catch performance was the way receiver Mike Brown filled in for Cecil Shorts, who suffered a sprained right shoulder on the game's third offensive play and did not return. Brown caught four passes for 49 yards, including a 19-yard pass on third-and-20 that put the Jaguars in position to attempt and convert on fourth down. Sunday was Brown's first game since he suffered a fractured bone in his back in the season opener. Brown, a converted quarterback from Liberty, will have to produce like he did against the Broncos if Shorts, the team's leading receiver (31 catches), is out for an extended period.
Dead zone: The Jaguars' struggles inside the red zone continue. They scored only one TD in three trips. It was a mix of play-calling and bad decisions that doomed the latter two trips. Henne was penalized for delay of game and then offensive coordinator Jed Fisch called a sweep to the short side of the field. Those plays moved the ball from the 4 to the 12. Henne could have run for a first down on their last trip but instead threw behind Blackmon.