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Broncos 3rd & long: Double shot

I was sick last week so I didn't get a chance to write up the game in Joakland. So are getting a double-post with the data from the Raiders games and the Saints games to give you plenty to chew on during the bye week.

Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

What a difference a week makes. A week after getting embarrassed on national TV (even though it was the offense' fault), our defense forces four turnovers to preserve the victory. The offense again was not good, it played better than it did against the Raiders, but you can't get much worse. So yeah, we won, but it's not all roses folks. Our defense forced 4 turnovers and our offense could only manage 23 points despite that. Think about that. Against a defense that has allowed 29.2 ppg so far this year (30th in the league) and with 4 turnovers and some short fields, our offense managed 23 points. At least we were able to keep the offense on the field this game. Our ability to convert on 11 of 19 3rd down plays is a huge turn around from the previous week in Joakland. That being said, our offense continues to under perform against some of the worst defenses in the league. We'll talk more about that later, but now onto the meat of this post.

Stopping the run on First Down

Against the Raiders we got destroyed on first down allowing 113 yards on 22 carries - 5.14 ypc. We did somewhat better against the Saints only allowing 46 yards on 11 carries - 4.2 ypc. We had one TFL on first down runs against the Raiders and no TFL's against the Saints on first down runs. We had no stops for no gain on first down runs against either team. For the season we have now allowed 634 yards on 146 first down runs - 4.34 ypc. That is 16th in the league. SEA is currently leading the league at 3.48 ypc allowed on first down runs and SF is dead last with 5.49 (0.5 yards worse than #31). OAK is still bad against the run on first down (#30 with 4.99 ypc allowed) so it makes a lot of sense that we ran the ball 6 times against them on first down (head-desk). After 10 games we have 8 stops for no gain and 8 TFLs on first down runs. This is really poor relative to our 2015 defense who had 16 and 24 of those two things on first down runs after 10 games. The 2015 defense was also only allowing 3.0 ypc on first down runs - 1.3 ypc less than we are currently allowing.

On the flip side of this we are 26th in the league at ypc on first down runs with 3.90.

Forcing Teams into 3rd and long and stopping them

We forced quite a few 3rd and longs against the Raiders, nine of them, allowing conversion on 4 of those 9 - two coming via penalty.

Quarter Time ToGo Details Result
1 7:19 7 Derek Carr pass complete short left to Andre Holmes for 16 yards (tackle by Darian Stewart) Conversion by catch
2 12:05 13 Derek Carr pass incomplete short right intended for Michael Crabtree Incomplete
2 4:43 16 Derek Carr pass incomplete deep right intended for Michael Crabtree Incomplete
2 1:42 10 Derek Carr pass incomplete deep middle intended for Amari Cooper. Penalty on Bradley Roby: Defensive Pass Interference, 23 yards (no play) Conversion by penalty
3 9:04 8 Derek Carr pass incomplete Incomplete
4 9:11 17 Derek Carr pass complete short middle to Michael Crabtree for 14 yards (tackle by Darian Stewart) Catch but short
4 6:30 7 Derek Carr pass incomplete deep right intended for Johnny Holton. Penalty on Taurean Nixon: Defensive Pass Interference, 31 yards (no play) Conversion by penalty
4 3:37 8 Derek Carr pass complete short left to Amari Cooper for 9 yards (tackle by Bradley Roby) Conversion by catch
4 3:16 11 Jalen Richard middle for 1 yard (tackle by Jared Crick) Run but short

Overall the Raiders were 7 of 15 against us on 3rd down. We only had two 3rd and long situations against the Saints and we stopped them both.

Quarter Time Down ToGo Location Detail Result
1 13:11 3 11 DEN 49 Drew Brees pass incomplete short left intended for Willie Snead (defended by Chris Harris) Incomplete
2 10:55 3 7 NO 49 Drew Brees pass incomplete deep left intended for Brandin Cooks Incomplete

Overall the Saints were 4 of 9 against us on third down. A big key against the Saints was the lack of defensive penalties that really hurt the defense against the Raiders. In general there were very few penalties called on Sunday in the Broncos saints game - four total.

For the season we are now allowing conversion on 33.3% of 3rd and longs. That is good for 25th in the league. BAL is still leading the league allowing only 18.5% conversion on 3rd and long while the Saints are dead last allowing 39.7% conversion. Our offense actually did better than that against them converting on 6 of 12 3rd and long situations (50%). Admittedly we also gave up 3 sacks on 3rd and long.

Moving Forward

We've got a bye week and then we get the Chiefs in Denver. If you can remember back to last season (as most of us can), our best offensive performance of the year came after the bye when we destroyed the Packers on national television. We may have had three more yards against the Chargers in week 17 (503 to 500), but our offense was playing much better (read balanced) in that game than in the 27-20 come from behind victory over the Chargers. The optimist in me wants to believe that the offensive coaches will have a great game plan ready for the Chiefs defense, which will be the best defense that we have faced all season (they are currently ranked 7th in scoring defense). Hopefully Trevor Siemian can stop making rookie mistakes (staring down his receiver - INT to Norwood vs NO, and throwing into double or triple coverage - INT sort of near Demaryius Thomas vs NO). Hopefully a healthy Ty Sambrailo solidifies the RT spot and leads to better protection. The realist in me says that our offense will continue to struggle. I can see the next game being a 13-9 kind of game where we come out on the losing side because our offense has another game like it did against Oakland. The Chiefs have won five straight and the defense has played extremely well over the last month allowing 21 (NO), 14 (JAX), 14 (IND) and 17 (CAR) points. The flipside is that their offense has been almost as bad as ours. Their offense currently ranks 18th in scoring (we're 14th surprisingly) and 26th in yards (we're 27th). This game will come down to who makes the fewest mistakes and I don't like our chances with Siemian having a much higher chance of throwing a pick than Captain Checkdown.