Last season our defense led the league by allowing 4.38 yards per play (ypp). After the safety, the Broncos had run 39 plays for 106 yards on Thursday - 2.71 ypp. League average last season was 5.48 ypp. Meaning that for three quarters of the game we made a haggard, depleted Chargers defense that came into the game as one of the worst in the league look like one of the best defenses of all-time. Since the merger, the best all-time is the 1970 Vikings who allowed 3.44 ypp. This makes two games in a row where our offense made bad defenses look good. You can make excuses if you want (Paxton Lynch's first start, Trevor Siemian's injury), but at some point our coaches are going to have to do something to change things up. Defensive coordinators around the league have figured out how to stop our offense. We know what they are doing to stop our offense, now it's time to see what our coaches can come up with to counter that.
I'm going to make a brief statement about the officiating. They were not calling the game evenly. There were twelve penalties called on the Broncos and three called on the Chargers. Five of the penalties against the Broncos were offensive holding. San Diego was not called for holding once, despite multiple plays when there should have been a holding penalty on the Chargers. As a former offensive lineman, I understand that holding happens on just about every play, but you can't turn a blind eye to the holding done by one team and call it against the other. The holding penalties were a huge obstacle to our already sluggish offense. CJ Anderson must have been livid about them. CJ Anderson is credited with 10 carries for 37 yards. CJ also had four catches for 34 yards - so he had 71 yards of total offense. He had 47 yards worth of runs negated by holding penalties (12, 15 and 20 yard runs). He also had the beautiful 20 yard catch and run for the TD called back because of holding. That's 67 yards of offense and one TD negated by holding penalties - at least two of which were bullshit calls because the refs weren't making the same calls on the Chargers OL when they did the same things. CJ had almost as much yardage negated by penalty as he had actual yardage in this game.
I'm not sure what is going on with our defense on the other team's opening drive but I don't like the trend.
Game 1 - TD
Game 2 - FG
Game 3 - TD
Game 4 - INT
Game 5 - TD
Game 6 - TD
Our team has allowed 108 points in 6 games - 31 of those have come of the opponent's opening drive. Five out six opening drives against us have led to points (and TB scored their lone TD on their second drive). Our defense has allowed ten TDs this year, five of those have come in the first quarter. In direct opposition to that, our offense has exactly one first quarter TD and nine of our fifteen TDs have come in the 4th quarter. Our defense has faced fifteen drives this year that at least started in the first quarter, we have allowed scores on eight of those fifteen drives (53.3%). Three of those drives chewed up huge chunks of the clock (10:03, 7:00 and 6:46) Scoring % is the percentage of drives that result in a score by the offense. The Falcons currently lead the league in scoring % at 52.7% overall - meaning that our defense is making every offense look like the best offense in the league during the first quarter. Overall this year 35.2% of all drives result in a score. On drives against us that start in the 2nd, 3rd or 4th quarter, teams are scoring on 29.2% of their drives.
Defensive performance on 3rd and Long
Again this week, the defense did it's job on third and long for the vast majority of the game. Exactly like the previous game, the Chargers were able to convert their first attempt on 3rd and long and then they were shut down the rest of the game.
|1||11:32||3||8||DEN 38||Philip Rivers pass complete short right to Antonio Gates for 10 yards (tackle by T.J. Ward)|
|2||12:45||3||11||DEN 30||Philip Rivers pass complete short right to Dexter McCluster for 10 yards (tackle by Brandon Marshall)|
|2||10:59||3||10||DEN 19||Philip Rivers sacked by Von Miller for 0 yards|
|3||7:59||3||8||DEN 18||Philip Rivers pass complete short right to Dexter McCluster for 5 yards (tackle by Will Parks)|
|3||4:07||3||10||DEN 20||Philip Rivers pass complete short middle to Tyrell Williams for 6 yards (tackle by Chris Harris)|
|4||12:57||3||10||DEN 44||Kenneth Farrow middle for 6 yards (tackle by Todd Davis)|
|4||6:46||3||9||SDG 26||Philip Rivers sacked by Jared Crick and Shane Ray for -12 yards|
We held them to one of seven on 3rd and long and three of thirteen on 3rd down overall. For the season we have now allowed conversion on 14 of 45 (31.1%) 3rd and long plays - including conversions by penalty. That puts us roughly in the middle of the league. Excluding penalty conversions, Joakland is leading the league in this stat allowing conversion on only 11.5% while WAS is still worst in the league at 45.5%.
Stopping the Run on First Down
We had another game were we did a decent job at this with the exception of one play. That 48 yard run came on first down. Overall the Chargers were able to gain 72 yards on 16 first down carries (4.6 ypc). We did have three TFL's and one stop for no gain. If you remove that 48 yard run, we allowed 24 yards on 15 carries. It's amazing how one bad play can completely mess up an otherwise stellar effort against the run. For the season we have now allowed 352 yards on 85 first down carries (excluding kneel-downs) - 4.14 ypc - that ranks 16th. Green Bay continues to lead the league at 2.29 ypc and WAS continues to be worst at 5.53. To put that in perspective, Washington has allowed 18 rushing first downs on first down while Green Bay has allowed 2.
Moving Forward (unless the refs flag us for holding again)
The Broncos offense is reeling. It has been stymied by two teams who hadn't really been able to stop any offense before they played us. Thankfully our offense will not have to face J.J. Watt, but that hasn't seemed to make a difference in the past two games. The Falcons had no healthy linebackers and the Chargers were down to their 7th string CB. It didn't seem to matter. Our offense has derped all over the field for two straight weeks. Will we solve things this week? I hope so. Many of us thought that getting Stephenson and Green back in the lineup would be some kind of panacea for the offense. It wasn't. Much like last season, the offense is causing the ship to take on water. Last year the defense was able to plug the holes in the boat and keep us floating all the way to the Lombardi trophy. Will the offensive turnaround happen this week? The offense doesn't need to become world-beaters, an improvement to mediocre should be enough to get us a win against an energized Texans team.