What the heck happens to the Denver Broncos in the second half?
The question has been asked for three weeks. You would think one embarrassing, lifeless second-half performance would be more than enough to prompt a correction. But give credit to the Denver Broncos: When they do something, they go all out.
Since Denver racked up 23 points in the final 30 minutes against the New England Patriots, it's failed to score a single point in the second half of the following three games. The Broncos held on against the San Diego Chargers, and completely ruined the bed against the Oakland Raiders and Pittsburgh Steelers. Denver had no business losing those final two games, but it found a way. Remember: The Broncos go all out.
Denver has two weeks left to make corrections or it won't make the playoffs.
So what really happens during halftime in the Broncos' locker room? Since nobody on the team is keen to share details, I took matters into my own hands and got it straight from the horse's mouth. No, seriously. I asked Thunder, the Broncos' living, breathing horse mascot. Even though he's only present at home games, he's the horse that knows the most. Thunder has his hoof on the pulse of this team.
Here's what he told me:
As soon as the Broncos get into the locker room at halftime, a celebration of epic proportions breaks out. The players act like they won the Super Bowl by popping the champagne and exchanging high-fives.
In the midst of all the commotion, Vernon Davis allegedly tells his teammates he's decided he should play the second half with two hands below the waist so he won't get hit.
Meanwhile, Demaryius Thomas usually decides he's met his catch and effort quota and channels another Thomas who Broncos Country is so fond of. Hearing this news, Brock Osweiler asks himself, "What would Kyle Orton do?"
Denver enters the locker room famished, but instead of Snickers, they're fed orange slices and transform into the Cleveland Browns.
As cartoonist Drew Litton drew so poignantly, they all kick back and have a nice nap after the celebration dies down. They call for room service but the phone just goes to the press box and they don't deliver.
— Jon Heath (@JonHeathNFL) December 21, 2015
To pass the time, Derek Wolfe ties Chris Harris' shoelaces together (especially against the Steelers). Next, the Broncos defense takes part in some oil wrestling, which explains the awful tackling. After they're done, Evan Mathis takes the footballs and dumps them in the same oil, which explains the bad passes and drops.
Gary Kubiak and his coaches play pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey to determine what the second half play-calling will look like. The original plan was to scrap the running game from the offensive play sheet altogether to see what Osweiler and his right shoulder could take, but they all decided that wouldn't be fair to Wade Phillips and the defensive coaches, they deserve to play too. Thus, it's a total team collapse.
Denver brings in a hypnotist to convince the players and coaches that they aren't as good as they appeared in the first half - in the name of fairness. They're really the Chargers and need to start playing like it.
Since they don't have time during the week, the coaches and players start wrapping their presents. But they only get half done.
Like many fans, the players and coaches can't resist catching up on their fantasy teams. When Thomas and Davis realize they're on their fantasy opponents' teams, they decide then and there to take the rest of the game off. Hey, nobody wants to be a loser in the playoffs, right?
Thunder's also heard rumors that Denver wants to lull the NFL into thinking it really is this bad in the second half so it can "surprise" opponents in the last two games of the regular season and the playoffs.
Denver joins the 2011 Jacksonville Jaguars as the last team to go three-straight games without scoring a point in the second half. That's dubious company, to say the least.
Denver shut out in 2nd half for 3rd straight game. Last team to do that? The 2011 Jaguars who finished 5-11— trey wingo (@wingoz) December 21, 2015
Whatever the reason, the Broncos have two games left to get serious in the locker room and fix their second-half woes.
As I told Thunder, it's time to ditch the hypnotist and orange slices and stock up on Snickers.