ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Whereas the Denver Broncos seek for solutions to their present four-game dropping streak, they may need to look underneath the sofa cushions for a spare landing or two as nicely.
As a result of the excessive hopes for an offensive resurgence that permeated their coaching camp haven’t materialized as Halloween approaches. At 3-4, the Broncos are averaging 20 factors per recreation. That is in roughly the identical irritating neighborhood they’ve lived in every of the earlier 5 seasons once they averaged 20.2, 17.6, 20.6, 18.1 and 20.8 factors per recreation. Every of these seasons ended with out a significant recreation in January.
After Thursday’s 17-14 loss to the Cleveland Browns, the Broncos discover themselves twenty fourth within the league in scoring and 18th in complete offense. And maybe one of the vital evident numbers is the dismal 31.8% success charge on third down — now thirty first within the league and forward of solely Jacksonville.
Towards the Browns, the Broncos ran solely eight performs within the first quarter. They’d simply two first downs within the first half.
“Within the first half, we simply couldn’t get something going,” mentioned Broncos coach Vic Fangio. “The quickest method to get out of that within the first half or anytime you’re in that’s to transform some third downs and provides your self a brand new set of downs, to get a operating recreation going, to get a first- and second-down passing recreation going. We did neither.”
Twenty factors per recreation will not finish the workforce’s playoff drought. In three of the previous 5 seasons, only one workforce has made the playoff discipline averaging fewer than 20 factors a recreation — Buffalo in 2017 and 2019 in addition to Houston in 2016. None of these groups took a trophy house and there’s one playoff win amongst them.
To place it one other manner, the Broncos’ Tremendous Bowl 50 workforce sported one of the best protection in franchise historical past, and it allowed 18.5 factors per recreation.
Some assist could possibly be on the best way. Huge receiver Jerry Jeudy, who hasn’t performed since he suffered an ankle damage within the season opener, is closing in on a return. With Jeudy, receiver KJ Hamler (knee) and tight finish Albert Okwuegbunam (hamstring) all on injured reserve, a lot of the Broncos’ velocity has been on the shelf. Consequently, defensive coaches within the league say they will cheat on the line of scrimmage as a result of they worry fewer big-play makes an attempt from the Broncos.
“Jerry, he’ll carry a distinct kind of power to this offense together with his big-play means and his means to separate from defenders,” Broncos quarterback Teddy Bridgewater mentioned. “He’s decisive together with his routes.”
With extra visitors close to the road of scrimmage, operating the ball has been troublesome. However the Broncos have struggled to win the road of scrimmage even when defenses have introduced a lighter field with six or seven defenders between the tackles as a substitute of eight.
“We simply have to remain on the sphere,” mentioned Broncos operating again Melvin Gordon III. “We’ve to transform on the third downs. It’s robust when you’re getting behind, however we’ve got to determine a manner to have the ability to run the ball, as a result of once we run the ball successfully, we open up the whole lot.”
Enjoying from behind for just about each minute throughout the four-game dropping streak has seen offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur transfer away from a close to 50-50 cut up between Bridgewater within the shotgun or underneath heart. The Broncos haven’t led at any level in any of the previous three losses and led for simply 3 minutes, 57 seconds throughout the loss to Baltimore. Within the blowout loss to the Steelers, Bridgewater was within the shotgun on 45 extra snaps than underneath heart. Over the previous two seasons, the Broncos’ have surrendered much more sacks with the quarterback within the shotgun, run with much less effectivity and had extra turnovers.
Requested after Thursday’s loss if he would take into account any adjustments in offensive playcalling, Fangio rapidly mentioned, “No.”
“We are able to make it go, we will make it occur,” Gordon mentioned. “However it’s completely different if you get behind the chain, you’re down, and you’re simply put in sticky conditions — that’s the way it has been for us the final couple of weeks, contemplating us getting down and having gradual begins.”