Diagnosing the Problem: A Turnover is Bad.

Duh, you say?

Well, it's been a four year problem this franchise has been unable to figure out. Costly turnovers, costing games. Sure a big part of the blame rests on the shoulders of the coaching staff, but this problem has now nagged two different regimes in Denver. And I think I may have figured out where the problem is coming from.

A turnover is bad because the Denver Broncos are not generating any and are coughing them up at an alarming rate. A young, undisciplined offense cannot be expected to play mistake-free football. We would like them too and part of that, again, falls on coaching, but in reality the problem is complimentary football.

The defense is reactionary in a sport that success is usually determined by action. Reaction should be left for the coaches during their game adjustments, it should not be played on the field itself. It is time for this defense to forget about bending and take the risk. The defense is playing safe, scared even. That part has been an issue with this defense since 2007. I will only be discussing the Josh McDaniels tenure, but I assure you, the stats I will be playing with were not much different than during Mike Shanahan's final two seasons.

I like charts, so let's play with one here and I'll address it afterwards.

2009
Week Team Score T/O Diff. W/L
1 @CIN 12-7 +2 W
2 CLE 27-6 +2 W
3 @OAK 23-3 +2 W
4 DAL 17-10 +1 W
5 NE 23-20 -1 W
6 @SD 34-23 +1 W
8 @BAL 7-30 -1 L
9 PIT 10-28 -1 L
10 @WAS 17-27 -2 L
11 SD 3-32 -3 L
12 NYG 26-6 +2 W
13 @KC 44-13 0 W
14 @IND 16-28 +2 L
15 OAK 19-20 +2 L
16 @PHI 27-30 +2 L
17 KC 24-44 -1 L
2010
Week Team Score T/O Diff. W/L
1 @JAX 17-24 -2 L
2 SEA 31-14 +4 W
3 IND 13-27 -2 L
4 @TEN 26-20 +1 W
5 @BAL 17-31 -1 L
6 NYJ 20-24 +1 L
7 OAK 14-59 -3 L

 

Here is how I interpreted this information. First, the Broncos, when they win the turnover battle, are not putting teams away. An 8-4 record, with many of those losses coming with a +2 turnover difference is unacceptable. I understand this a young offense, but it must figure out how to capitalize on mistakes made by the other team. However, all too often the offense fails to take advantage of opportunities provided to them by their defense.

Second, the Broncos, when they lose the turnover battle, are  just 1-9. This again falls on the offense's inability to overcome mistakes with the football and the defenses seemingly nonexistent ability to generate turnovers.  So okay, we see that most of the fault lies mostly with the offense right? Wrong. At least partly, maybe even mostly. I blame the conservative defensive playcalling. 

I have watched, mostly painfully, since the day Al Wilson's career ended, this defense play not to lose only to lose. It appears that the defensive backs are being taught to cover the wide receivers and to never, ever look for the ball. It appears that to trust ones instincts is to be against the coach's will. It appears this team simply has no pride.

Oakland defensive tackle Tommy Kelly said Sunday, after the Raiders' 59-14 pounding of the Broncos in Denver, he believed the Broncos would quit if the Raiders could grab a 21-0 lead in the first quarter.

via Denver Post

More insult to our injuries. The opposing teams know our team is full of quitters. I have tried to identify where this culture came from or when it started and I cannot. All I know is that it did not exist when Al Wilson and Jake Plummer were leading this team and it has existed since they have not been on this team. Mike Shanahan failed to figure it out and was fired; so far Josh McDaniels has failed to figure it out and he might be fired.

The only answer this year is to endure. It is up to the coaches and players to dig deep for the pride that has not really shown itself so far. When the pressure is on, this team invariably crumbles. They should come out and win big against San Francisco this week, but if we are to use last season as a benchmark, we are due for at least one more loss before this team wakes up. Then they'll likely go back into hibernation in another few weeks.

My suggestion to Wink Martindale is to change how he is coaching his defensive backfield. Take the risks. This team needs turnovers and playing defense the way this team is currently playing defense is not going to get the job done. Take the occasional big play, for they are happening anyway, and go for the turnover!

Long term, this team needs to finally address the biggest hole on this team. A hole that has now existed for four and a half years. This team needs to replace Al Wilson with a player worthy of his replacement. Whether it be in the draft or in free agency, Josh McDaniels and Brian Xanders must find an ILB of the Randy Gradishar/Al Wilson mold. I know D.J. Williams is great, but so was Tom Jackson. I know Elvis Dumervil is great, but so was Simon Fletcher and Karl Mecklenberg.

As for the offense, they just need time. They need experience together and the only cure for that is time. I won't address the quarterback situation. Kyle Orton should continue to be the starter this year, but the reigns to this team will most certainly be given to Tim Tebow in 2011. Only a major winning streak and the huge turnaround that comes with it will change that outcome.

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