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Broncos 3rd & long: The offense was K.I.A. against the Chiefs

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The Denver Broncos defense didn't allow a single third and long conversion against the Kansas City Chiefs, but the Broncos offense went from M.I.A. to K.I.A. in this game. Seasons over now.

NFL: New England Patriots at Denver Broncos Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

The Denver Broncos offense has been a zombie for the last quarter of the season. Zombies have no brain activity and our coaching staff’s inability to call plays that our team can execute coupled with our QB’s inability to audible means that our offense will run headlong into brick walls repeatedly. Zombies don’t really have hearts either and, with the exception of a couple of players, this offense does not seem to have a heart. Zombies can occasionally overcome the living, but our zombie offense has not even been able to feast on mostly dead defenses this year.

If you look at what other teams have scored against our opponents and then compare that to what our team has done, you get the table below.

Opponent DEN SCORE OPP AVG ALLOWED DIFF
Carolina Panthers 21 25.7 -4.7
Indianapolis Colts 34 24.8 9.2
Cincinnati Bengals 29 20.3 8.7
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 27 23.5 3.5
Atlanta Falcons 16 24.9 -8.9
San Diego Chargers 13 25.7 -12.7
Houston Texans 27 20.3 6.7
San Diego Chargers 27 25.7 1.3
Oakland Raiders 20 24.1 -4.1
New Orleans Saints 25 27.7 -2.7
Kansas City Chiefs 27 18.9 8.1
Jacksonville Jaguars 20 25.1 -5.1
Tennessee Titans 10 24.1 -14.1
New England Patriots 3 15.7 -12.7
Kansas City Chiefs 10 18.9 -8.9
YEARLY TOTAL -36.4

Note that we have left 36 points on the field this year relative to what our opponents have allowed this season and most of that has come in the current losing streak.

Now I am going to throw our some stats to show just how bad our offense has been this year. We have the worst conversion % in the league on 3rd and short. We are the only team in the league that is below 50% conversion on 3rd and short (1-3 yard needed). We have now converted on 31 of 63 (49.2%). League average conversion % on 3rd and short is 60.2%. The Cardinals lead the league at 75.0% conversion. You have to go all the way back to the Jacksonville game to find an instance of us converting on 3rd and short. Over the past four games our offense is 1/13 on 3rd and short (7.7%). The next worst team, HOU, converts at 30% over that same stretch on 3rd and short. It’s just a symptom of the greater problem, though, our offense can’t convert on 3rd down at all over the past 4 games. We have the worst 3rd down conversion rate in the league over the past 4 games - 20.8% (11/53). Over this same 4 game stretch, three teams have converted at 50% or better (CHI, CIN and IND).

Over the past 4 games our offense has 8 drives ending in scores (3 TDs, 5 FGs) and 7 drives ending in turnovers (5 fumbles and 2 INTs). We have punted the ball 29 times in the last 4 games with 17 of those 29 punts coming after a 3-and-out. We have almost 10 times as many punts as TDs. Our offense has exactly two drives in four games that have gone more than 70 yards. Over the past four games we have 4 drives that lasted for 10 plays or more. Those four drives ended in a FG, an INT, a punt and a turnover on downs.

So why? Why has our offense been so craptastic over the last 4 games?

According to Mark Schlereth, our offensive coaching staff does not tailor a game plan to fit a given opponent. Our offense is going to try and out-execute the opponent’s defense regardless of specific strengths or weaknesses that each defense might have. That just seems idiotic to me. That might have worked for Vince Lombardi and the Packers in 1965, but that rarely works above the high school level in football in this century. There is an old adage that if you fail to plan, you plan to fail. Our offense this season has been a study in failure.

Another thing that I have noted about our offense this year is the complete and total lack of audibles. I initially thought that it was just caused by the frequency at which our previous QB would call audibles, but I don’t think that is the case. Our lack of a game plan for specific opponents explains our lack of audibles.

If we don't gameplan, that means that both Siemian AND Lynch still can't run the basic $hit at a great level..... I mean, you had 16 weeks, really like, 30 weeks of the SAME $HIT DAY AFTER DAY WITH NO DEVIATIONS and you STILL can't run that $hit properly? not just the QBs, but the whole offense. I mean, how f#%king scary pathetic is that? At that point, with no specific gameplanning, they should be f#%king savants at running this offense and yet they suck balls

-Big Pete

If you are interested you can hear Evans and Schlereth talking about this on their podcast from Monday December 26th (hour 3) on 104.3 the FAN. But if you are lazy here is my excerpted transcript:

Evans: (Reading a listener questions) It's all coaching right now. Other teams in the league can mask a bad OL.Why can't we?

Stink: You can't mask it. You can help a bad OL with the way you call plays, with the way you set things up and the way you scheme, but if you are not an organization that is going to scheme, let me tell you, I played 6 years in this offense, I know it. Very rarely did we scheme anything. Two or three times a year, maybe. This system is we execute it, we're better than you, you know what's coming, UP YOURS. But, let's face it, if you have never run anything else, it's hard to become a conceptual schemer.

Evans: Is this coaching staff capable of coaching a scheme-oriented offense?

Stink: Apparently not, because it hasn't happened all season. In two seasons actually.

Evans: This is not an offense that can go out an out-execute people. They have to out-scheme people Are the coaches capable of changing to more of a scheming offense?

Stink: No. I think that this is what they are. They think they need different personel.

Evans: or they need different coaches. If you can’t get different players you need to scheme the heck out of it.

Stink: They need to either scheme the heck out of it, or develop the players so that they can run this scheme. You don't have to be the most physically gifted player to run this scheme, but you have to be detailed. You HAVE TO BE DETAILED.

So we need new coaches. Coaches capable of designing game-plans to attack specific weaknesses that our opponents defenses might have. Kind of like the Chiefs did to our defense on Sunday. We were missing our best ILB and starting SS. So what did they do? They ran plays designed to test Todd Davis, Corey Nelson, Justin Simmons and Will Parks and they found that they are not as good as Brandon Marshall and T.J. Ward.

Since most of you clicked here to read about how our defense did on 3rd down, here’s the data: The Chiefs were able to convert on 10 of 18 3rd downs against our defense, but none of those conversions came on 3rd and long. They were 0 for 8 on 3rd and long and an astounding 10 for 10 on 3rd and short (7/7) and 3rd and medium (3/3).

Quarter Time Down ToGo Location Detail Result
1 2:47 3 9 KAN 21 Alex Smith pass incomplete deep middle intended for Tyreek Hill is intercepted by Justin Simmons at KAN-44 and returned for 38 yards Interception
2 9:05 3 10 DEN 27 Alex Smith pass complete short right to Chris Conley for 6 yards (tackle by Chris Harris) Catch but short
2 3:38 3 11 KAN 37 Alex Smith pass complete short right to Charcandrick West for 3 yards (tackle by Von Miller and Aqib Talib) Catch but short
2 1:24 3 13 KAN 23 Charcandrick West middle for 4 yards (tackle by Von Miller) Run but short
3 12:24 3 10 KAN 35 Alex Smith pass complete short middle to Jeremy Maclin for 5 yards (tackle by Corey Nelson) Catch but short
3 4:06 3 15 DEN 38 Alex Smith pass incomplete deep left intended for Tyreek Hill Incomplete
4 12:06 3 7 DEN 9 Alex Smith pass incomplete short right intended for Tyreek Hill Incomplete
4 8:59 3 7 DEN 21 Alex Smith pass incomplete short right intended for Demetrius Harris Incomplete

For the season we are now allowing conversion on 27.2% of 3rd & long. That is 11th in the league. The Raisins still lead the league and have only allowed conversion on 16.5%.

The Chiefs absolutely destroyed us with 1st down runs this game - 21 carries for 164 yards (70 on one run). That is an average of 7.8 ypc. Nine of those 21 runs went for 5 or more yards.