The Denver Broncos fell to 4-2 after losing on the road to the San Diego Chargers on Thursday Night Football. There were not injury excuses this time. In fact, the Chargers have the injuries. It was just a good, old fashioned beat down of the Broncos.
Over the last two games, we are starting to learn some things about this team that should worry us all greatly. There are serious flaws on offensive, defense and in coaching. Here are the five things we should have learned.
1. The offensive line is broken
And I think I know why. The five guys up front are not working as a cohesive unit. Instead, I see five guys on islands out there. When that happens, the front becomes Swiss cheese for the defense to run right through.
It’s happening on run plays. It’s happening on pass plays. The players are committing errors an alarmingly high rate.
I don't care what the @NFL says. There's no way the #Broncos had 7 holds to #Chargers 0 tonight. #TNF Tough game tonight...— MileHighReport (@MileHighReport) October 14, 2016
The emotion of the tweet above belies the reality on the ground. Until last night, the Broncos were getting away with several holds a game. It appears the officials decided to let the Broncos know they weren’t going to get away with that anymore.
Until they start working together as one unit instead of five individuals, the offensive line will remain broken. It’s not a good sign that I am saying this six games into the regular season.
2. What the heck is up with playcalling?
Last week we saw Paxton Lynch in the shotgun like every down. Like most, I assumed it was because that’s what he ran in college. We were all wrong, because the Broncos again were in shotgun formation for most of the game with Trevor Siemian.
They’ve also thrown the ball 85 times in those two games. The running game is lacking for two reasons. One they holes just are not there and two the running backs have little chance to get any rhythm because the Broncos are throwing the ball too damn much.
I get that the team has fallen behind in both games, but patience is preferred to panic, especially when you have mediocre quarterbacks.
2013 Peyton Manning isn’t walking through that door, so the Broncos need to adjust their playcalling to protect the limitations of their quarterbacks. Or it will be a very long year for the offense.
3. There is no quarterback controversy. Paxton Lynch is the guy. Eventually.
I’ll admit, I let this topic get under my skin this week. The crap being spewed Sunday and Monday was so borderline ridiculous that I lashed out a bit in the game threads. This morning, I’m back to where I was last week and earlier this week. It’s Trevor Siemien until Paxton Lynch is ready.
Members of the local Denver media agree with that stance. Mark Kiszla articulated it best last night with several local media members responding in agreement.
Lynch is much more talented QB. He's not ready to handle offense. Broncos trying to get by with Siemian for as long as it takes for Lynch. https://t.co/BraSRxMxIN— Mark Kiszla (@markkiszla) October 14, 2016
My take: Lynch has lots of game. Siemian has little game. Siemian can run show. Lynch needs to learn how to run show. Rock. Hard place.— Mark Kiszla (@markkiszla) October 14, 2016
That rock and hard place is third party analysts now believe there is enough tape on Siemian to expose him consistently. Pro Football Focus was especially unkind in their breakdown after the game.
Quarterback grade: Trevor Siemian, 40.5
Teams are figuring out the Denver quarterback: Force him to throw deep. And chances are he still won’t. Even with the Broncos behind late in the game and needing multiple scores, Siemian still refused to throw anything other than underneath routes. On the day he completed only one of his nine attempts targeted 10-plus yards down the field. Those are abysmal numbers and the Chargers exploited it by squatting on underneath routes and giving Siemian nowhere to go.
If true, and Lynch isn’t ready to ‘run the show’ then the Broncos offense could be horrible limited moving forward. I’ll need to remind myself to be patient and show restraint and hopefully everyone else will too.
4. Where the hell is the Kubiak offense?
This ties into the second item, but it should be its own here. The Broncos were supposed to be running under center with Andy Janovich smashing heads and opening holes. Janovich was again one of the top graded players according to PFF, yet he wasn’t on the field much for the second straight week.
What I see out there looks more like the Peyton Manning offense than it does the Kubiak offense. This team needs to return to its roots.
The only time we saw the running game so anything on Thursday was out of the shotgun when the defense was soft and focused on stopping the pass.
#Broncos rookie RB @dbook23 was a bright spot in #TNF loss. Seven touches for 53 yards (7.5 YPT), including this shoulder-lowering tote. pic.twitter.com/Gqh9JQGqfm— Jon Heath (@JonHeathNFL) October 14, 2016
Sure, these runs were nice and helped pad the running stats, but this isn’t what helped the Broncos top 100 yards rushing earlier in the season. This offense needs to get back to its Kubiak roots next week.
5. The defense is very good, but not great
The overreaction towards the defense is likely due to fans expecting to see the historically good defense that played its way to a Super Bowl last season, so any regression is going to be seen as a huge big deal.
Look, the Broncos defense is still very good. They have issues covering tight ends and running backs and seem to be starting out slow in games giving up a lot of yards and points early.
Once they settle down, however, they are still one of the best defense in the NFL. We just have to accept they won’t be as consistently great as they were last season.
The good news is that these two losses have been a slap in the face of a very proud and talented group. They now have 11 days to prepare for Brock Osweiler’s return to Denver on Monday Night Football.
"We should have won this game. Let's just say that...We've got to get our minds right & we've got to win the next one."— Andrew Mason (@MaseDenver) October 14, 2016
-- Brandon Marshall