For seven weeks, Broncos receiver Jerry Jude rehabilitated his high ankle sprain with the intention of contributing to the second half of the season.
Also, offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur & Co. was apparently plotting ways to expand Judy’s influence upon her return.
Both – Judy’s comeback at full speed and Shurmoor’s fresh ideas – were on display in a stunning 30-16 win over Dallas on Sunday.
In his first two games, Week 1 against the New York Giants and Week 8 against Washington, respectively, Judy caught no pass less than two yards beyond the line of scuffle. The average “air” yardage for his 10 catches was 8.5 yards.
But against the Cowboys, four of Judy’s team-high six catches were caught a yard ahead of the line or behind the line. His average “air” yard was 3.5 yards. He finished with 69 yards and his pre-snap pace and tunnel/bubble screen catches will make teams like Philadelphia rethink how to deploy their defensive backs on Sunday.
Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater said, “Jerry is one of the nicest guys in the league with the ball in his hands.” “Very explosive.”
To that end, the Broncos mixed Judy in some deep throws with the above quick passes. A breakdown of his six catches:
1. Judy ran right-to-left and made a fine jump for 25 yards (six yards post-catch).
2. Lined up inside the three-receiver set, Judy caught a quick pass behind the line and gained five yards before being tackled by unblocked linebacker Micah Parsons.
3. From the left slot, Judy drove a shallow cross, caught a pass for three yards and got six when she broke a tackle attempt.
4. Judy moves from left to right, spins around Bridgewater, and back to left. He had to bend his body to catch the pass five yards behind the line, but was in open ground to gain 20 yards. In the play, it appeared that linebacker Leighton Vander Ash was assigned to Judy and was out of position when receiver Tim Patrick semi-screened him.
5. Again, Judy went in a right-to-left motion, but lost three yards on a quick pass when he landed awkwardly.
6. Judy made a jet movement from left to right and Bridgewater’s quick throw allowed her to easily outrun safety Jeroen Kers, who was tight on the inside en route to Albert Okwegbunam. Judy got 16 yards (after 15 catches).
“(The defense) has to be respected in their pickup,” coach Vic Fangio said of Judy’s pre-snap motions. “Everyone needs to be on the same page and if one man is closed, something will be open.”
Judy has caught 16 of the 19 passes she has thrown under her direction this season. Judy’s three explosive catches (a lead of at least 16 yards) were part of the Broncos’ offensive in a season-high 12 explosive plays (six passes/six rushes) against Dallas.
Maybe it’s opponent-specific and the Eagles will have a reel of videotape to find out how the Broncos are using Judy. But the elite is the elite, no matter the plan. Just get him football.
“You just take it to him and get to him fast and he can miss people,” Bridgewater said. “We saw it when he was in Alabama. We saw it last year. He’s one of those people we try to find different ways to move forward.”