Broncos continue to have trouble covering tight ends
By ARNIE STAPLETON
ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) Covering tight ends has been the Denver Broncos' bugaboo for several seasons, a trend that continued when they allowed Seattle's Will Dissly to become the first tight end in league history to top 100 yards receiving and score a touchdown in his NFL debut.
Up next: Jared Cook , who's coming off a career-best 180-yard performance in Oakland's opener.
Dissly did his damage on just three catches, covering 105 yards.
"I tell you what, he was one of my favorite guys in the draft. He's a good player, but we can't do that," Broncos coach Vance Joseph said. "The first catch he made, we missed four tackles. The coverage wasn't great, but we missed four tackles. The second play he made down the seam, again our eyes are bad and we're out of position."
Actually, Joseph was forgetting Dissly's first catch, a 15-yard touchdown grab in which the fourth-round draft pick out of Washington burst past rookie linebacker Bradley Chubb, the fifth overall pick in the draft.
It was Dissly's second catch when he broke four tackles before Brandon Marshall dragged him down at the 5-yard line following a zigzagging 66-yard catch and run, and it was his third grab, a 24-yarder, that put him over 100 yards.
"That's been a problem for us and we've got to fix it," Joseph said. "We've got to coach better and we've got to play better."
The Raiders (0-1) visit the Broncos (1-0) on Sunday and Cook is getting as much attention from Denver's coaching staff and defenders as Marshawn Lynch, Amari Cooper, Martavis Bryant, Jordy Nelson and Derek Carr.
"The tight end is going to be a challenge this week," Joseph said. "He is a physical mismatch for most safeties and definitely for backers. We have to play to bracket him and to play a safety over top of him like he's a receiver. Hopefully we can rush the passer, speed the quarterback up, and kind of help us cover these guys."
That's what they did last week when they sacked the mobile Russell Wilson six times, their most since Nov. 27, 2016, in an overtime loss to Kansas City.
Von Miller , who had three sacks last week, has always rated the Raiders as the best O-line in the league, one he insists is even better now that Donald Penn moved to right tackle to make room for rookie left tackle Kolton Miller.
"Donald Penn can play any position on the line (and) 77 is a beast. He was the best tackle in this year's draft," Miller said. "I've always said the Raiders have the best offensive line in football. They made it a whole lot better with the Miller kid."
Last season, tight ends averaged 64 yards a game against Denver, and the Broncos were especially burned by Jason Witten (97 yards, TD), Evan Engram (82 yards, TD), Hunter Henry (73 yards), Travis Kelce (133 yards, TD) and Rob Gronkowski (74 yards).
Throw in Nick Vannett's 11-yard catch and Seahawks tight ends had 116 yards and a TD last week.
"The tight ends, we haven't fixed that yet," Joseph said.
He knows a quick fix is necessary Sunday to contain Cook.
"He's 6-6, he has great ball skills, he runs a 4.5 (40-yard dash)," Joseph said. "We have to have a great plan to get him contained. We can't walk in here on Monday and say we didn't contain him. If we don't contain him, it's going to be a long day for us."
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Updated September 14, 2018