After last Sunday's loss against the Oakland Raiders, a number of questions have arisen from Dove Valley regarding the teams ability to compete down the stretch. One of these big questions whether or not the Denver Broncos have an offense in place that is capable of scoring enough points to take the pressure off the defense and win games.
On Mile High Sports' The Afternoon Drive, Eric Goodman and Les Shapiro delved into one of the biggest issues complicating the offensive efficacy of the Broncos, which is their rushing offense in the red zone.
Shapiro pointed out that against Oakland last week, Denver ran 12 plays in the red zone against Oakland, but only two of them were rushes. Unfortunately, the rushes resulted in negative yardage and the passing plays had mixed results which begged the question, "Are the Broncos capable of running the ball in the red zone effectively?"
On this matter, Goodman mentioned that when C.J. Anderson is healthy, he has the ability to run between the tackles, yet is something Ronnie Hillman struggles with. Shapiro then brought up Juwan Thompson, the teams third running back who showed promise in camp, but hasn't really put his game together yet and wouldn't expect him to be the saving grace in such a regard.
More than anything, the two were in agreement that an effective and cohesive offensive line is necessary in order for the ball to be moved at will in the red zone.
It's an obvious statement to make, alas, the Broncos offensive line has been an abject failure blocking on the interior through the majority of the season. Evan Mathis and Louis Vasquez have been banged up for most of the season and have been spelled or replaced by rookie Max Garcia in many games. While Garcia has shown promise, the Broncos offensive line has endured so many shuffles, it has been very hard for any consistency to come to fruition.
The Broncos will face a Pittsburgh Steelers defense this weekend that is among the top ten in the league against the run. If Denver wants to come away from Heinz Field with a victory on Sunday, they will undoubtedly have to run the ball more effectively than they did last week against the Raiders.
Goodman and Shapiro also had a back and forth dialogue on quarterback Brock Osweiler, in particular his situational statistics. They highlighted his struggles in the red zone, penchant for holding onto the ball too long and the lack of touchdowns over the past several games which are a severe cause for concern.
However, it isn't necessarily statistics that make quarterbacks great, but whether or not they can make big plays when it matters. Goodman supported Osweiler, refreshing our memories of the handful of drops and missed opportunities from players such as Vernon Davis, Owen Daniels and Demaryius Thomas in clutch moments against Oakland. Ultimately, Goodman seemed to feel that Osweiler should be given the benefit of the doubt and points to several clutch plays he has made through his four starts to help solidify the belief he is a capable commander of this offense.
On the flip side, Shapiro did make note that since Osweiler has became the Broncos starting quarterback, the offense has endured 18 drives that have resulted in three-and-outs. Much to the chagrin of fans across the country, It is a significant issue that the team hasn't had to deal with since Tim Tebow was behind center several years ago.
Prior to that segment, Goodman and Shapiro brought in Mile High Report's Editor-in-Chief Kyle Montgomery to discuss this weekends' game against Pittsburgh, Broncos fan's current on the team and his prediction for the weekend. Be sure to listen to that by clicking the podcast below.
As always, thanks for reading and have a tremendous weekend. Go Broncos!