The Denver Broncos were fully exposed for the third time in five games and this time by the hated Oakland Raiders. The 30-20 defeat was a lot closer than it should have been thanks to some garbage time offense.
There was a lot of bad things to take away from this game, but I’ll start with the one everyone loves to argue about.
1. Trevor Siemian’s time is running out
There are a multitude of other reasons the Broncos lost this game, but Trevor Siemian is clearly one of them. He started the game 1/8 for 4 yards and was wildly inaccurate for many parts of the game.
I was breaking down Siemian heavily early in the season and one thing I noticed was that NFL defenses were going to figure his game out fairly quickly(post 1 and post 2). The question was whether or not he would continue to grow. He hasn’t.
Let’s compare his last four starts and show how his game has degraded.
The completion percentage has just plummeted. It would have been worse, but he got some solid garbage time yardage on a short pass that Kapri Bibbs turned into a 69-yard touchdown.
Gary Kubiak had the gall to say Siemian is battling and improving every time he goes out there, but I’m going to chalk that up to coachspeak. There is no denying that Siemian has hit a wall and Pro Football Focus was right four weeks ago to say “The Book is Out” on him.
If the downward trajectory continues we could see Paxton Lynch taking over first team reps as early as the Bye Week. Ready or not, he can’t possibly be worse than what we’ve seen recently.
2. Andy Janovich is so vital to this offense
With a club on his hand, Andy Janovich is useless on the football field right now. Without him, the Broncos have zero consistency in the running game. We can blame playcalling or coaching, but really we should blame Jano for getting injured. He’s too damn important to get injured!
Gary Kubiak said after the game last night that he hopes to have Janovich out of his cast by next Sunday. I’m betting that won’t happen until after the Bye Week, but it would be great to see him on the field more. The run game depends on it.
Janovich is on the field for 46% of the snaps when the Broncos win, but just 9% when they lose. Without Janovich the Broncos in those losses had 53 rushes for 201 yards for a paltry 3.8 yards per carry and zero touchdowns.
It’s patently disgusting that the Broncos ran the ball just 13 times against the fourth worst run defense in the NFL.
3. The run defense has been exposed
Jared Crick should not be on the field. The Raiders identified him as the weak link and exploited it to the tune of 200+ yards rushing. The Broncos now rank 29th in the NFL in yards per game and 21st in the NFL in yards per carry.
“They ran the ball on us first,” Kubiak said of the Raiders running game. “They had over 130 yards rushing in the first half, so you can’t go there. Stopping the run is a group effort. It is what it is. It looked like to me we could tackle better and do a lot of those things better.”
With Derek Wolfe likely out several weeks with a hairline fracture in his elbow, teams will be able to attack both sides of the defensive line. Adam Gotsis hasn’t shown he can do much in his rookie season and for some reason the coaching staff prefers he and Crick over the more stout run defenders in Billy Winn and Darius Kilgo.
Oakland's 218 rushing yards were the most allowed by the Broncos in 75 games, since the Pats ran for 251 yards in Week 5 of the 2012 season.— Andrew Mason (@MaseDenver) November 7, 2016
4. Rick Dennison should lose his job
When you have a young quarterback who is struggling and being exploited by defenses, you don’t open each game throwing the ball on nearly every down. That’s two weeks in a row Rick Dennison has done that.
A few weeks ago, I recall Kubiak noting that Dennison calls the plays early and he takes over as the game goes on. If that is truly the case, fire Dennison immediately. At least from having any hand in playcalling duties.
“I think they battled, but we’re playing a brand of football that is throw, throw, throw,” Kubiak said of the offensive line play. “Hell, it’s not even fair to them but we’ve got to find a way to run the football somehow some way to help our football team and obviously the last two weeks it has been pretty nonexistent. It’s been tough.”
I’m not sure what else to say about that. Kubiak needs to be the boss here and make the move to fix the playcalling issues early.
5. This team will not go far in its present form
A spark is needed.
Last season, the spark came in the form of a quarterback change. However, Peyton Manning isn’t sitting on the bench - just a rookie who can’t seem to function better than Siemian at this point.
The defense has issues and can no longer be relied on to make the game breaking plays the team needed to keep winning.
At some point, the offense must carry its weight, but right now its just dead weight. With Talib likely out until after the Bye and Wolfe out as well, the Broncos may very well come up short against the New Orleans Saints next week.
If that happens and Siemian again fails to grow beyond his early season tendencies, Kubiak will have to consider making the change. It may not be the Manning-like spark, but it will beat more of the same after the Bye.
If not, hopefully they can still limp to a 10-6 record and a playoff berth.