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How can the Broncos’ offense ‘get better’?

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Gary Kubiak likes to say “we have to get better,” so let’s be part of the solution and help our coach help his offense actually get better.

Denver Broncos v Oakland Raiders Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

It’s not easy being a Broncos fan this week after our Super Bowl-defending champions were a hot mess against hated division rival Raiders on Sunday.

If you want to continue debating whether a change in quarterback is a good idea, Eric Goodman and Les Shapiro of the Afternoon Drive debate whether there is any logic in considering Paxton Lynch as a starting quarterback sooner rather than later:

And if you want to know how Chad Brown feels about the Broncos chances to make the playoffs with the Chiefs and Raiders ahead of them in the division, you can listen here:

But frankly, I’m ready to move on with solutions rather than lob more of the same complaints we all have - the offense needs creative play-calling and the defense needs to vastly improve against the run (which will be helped significantly if not gassed because it is never off the field).

It seems clear the Broncos are not making a quarterback change in the near future, so whining or cheering that is neither fun nor productive. But thanks to some interesting statistics pointed out by FrenchFred and some insightful responses by shasta77, I am pulling one response in particular to the forefront to highlight some explanations/solutions that we can all learn from and discuss:

Trevor Siemian’s current QB ratings picture is similar to the rookie year for the very same Derek Carr that is in the MVP discussion at the half-way point this year.

Every month of his rookie season, Carr’s completion percentage went down, and not just a little: 63.2% in September, 58.6% in October, 57.1% in November, bottoming out at 54.5% in December. And it’s a frequent pattern for many (if not most) rookie QBs for two reasons - 1) DC’s have no NFL film on them early, but later on they do, and they adjust their schemes in November/December to take away what was successful in September/October; 2) The rookie wall is not kind to many QBs in the second half of the year. The rigors of preparation alone begin to wear on them, not to mention the differences in the physical toll from what they experienced in college. The up-and-down impact of both of these factors again is perfectly captured by Carr’s QB Rating.

...For Trevor there is the ugly absence of a running game to further compound things, particularly in a system that demands a sufficient running attack to create some of the more dynamic options in the passing game. This leaves a rookie QB with little "disguise" in the passing game, and an increasing tendency for DCs to actual make little effort to take a non-existent running game away - giving them increased disguise and coverage flexibility to stop a passing game that is all they are concerned about.

The nonsense narrative that DCs are "loading the box" to stop our running game is completely false. Oakland was so convinced that Denver would come out throwing that they had only six in the box for most of the game, including every play on Denver’s first four possessions. And that approach is making the windows for success in the passing game ever smaller for any QB, but even more so for a rookie.

As a result Siemian would be throwing to receivers who weren’t briefly open but actually open by several yards or more, the natural result of giving the safeties and linebackers a post-snap worry that it might be a running play instead of a pass. That hesitation is the difference between completed passes with YAC potential and big gains, or an INT/deflected or incomplete pass in traffic/receiver getting crushed immediately after the catch.

And run it inside, outside, Power, ZBS, counters, traps, reverses/Jet Sweeps, toss sweeps, crack sweeps, G-leads, the whole shooting match (many of which I've described here). Screens and swing passes, too, as they are an extension of the running game in this offense.

Make the defenses pay for leaving six in the box. All of it will help Siemian ride out the rookie wall and DC adjustments, while finally giving him more options in the passing game than throwing short into traffic, deep for a barely open receiver, or throwing it away to protect the ball.