Numbers don’t lie.
There are two from the Denver Broncos 27-23 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs on Monday night that tell the story.
The first is the number of pass plays called by Broncos offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave. The second is the running plays called by Musgrave. For those in Broncos Country, the question pinging around from the fourth quarter until this morning — why?
The Chiefs defense could not stop Denver from rushing the ball if they tried. Kansas City could have had 22 guys on the field, and it still couldn’t stop the Broncos from running the ball. That is a slight exaggeration, but you get the point.
As a team, Denver averaged over seven yards per attempt, led by the dynamic rookie duo of Royce Freeman and Phillip Lindsay. They became just the fourth pair of rookie running backs in NFL history to rush for at least 65 yards and a touchdown for their team in the same game. That is remarkable.
But when you look at the 37 passes to 22 rushes, you would think Denver was trailing most of the game. But that’s not the case. At all. The Broncos actually had a 23-13 lead at the start of the fourth quarter. It’s even more egregious when you see Freeman had only eight carries and was on the field less than Devontae Booker (33 percent for Booker, as opposed to 27 percent for Freeman). In that situation and with how he was running, Freeman should have gotten the carries to help eat time and give the defense a breather.
The #Broncos coaching staff cost its team a win on #MNF vs the #Chiefs. On the latest @MileHighReport Radio Podcast, @AdamMalnati16 and I unwind the ways the coaches made it happen. The players and #BroncosCountry are right to be pissed. https://t.co/o2QJDDHtD8— Ian St. Clair (@IanStClair) October 2, 2018
So, again, as Adam Malnati and I asked on the MHR Radio Podcast, why?
As I noted in the winners and losers story after the game, if Musgrave calls 30 or more runs in that game, Denver may have won. And if you look at the second-to-last drive, it seems he abandoned the run after first down. Lindsay was stopped for a 1-yard gain and Musgrave proceeded to call two pass plays that resulted in a killer three-and-out. Over the course of the game, it seemed Musgrave abandoned the run no matter how many yards were gained on first down. Why? As noted earlier, why wasn’t Freeman in the game in that crucial drive in the fourth quarter?
One is left to wonder if Musgrave was in some sort of competition with Andy Reid and the Chiefs offense. Did he want to show how much of an offensive genius he was, rather than stick with what was working for his unit? It just made no damn sense to me.
It was obvious from the second offensive play that the Broncos would control the line of scrimmage and dominate with their run game. As the game wore on, that became more apparent to everyone ... save for the guy who matters most.
But wait, it gets better (or worse). Musgrave moved to the coaches box for this game. The thought was that, if he could see the whole field, it would help with his play calling. No, seriously. You can’t make this shit up.
Musgrave’s incompetence cost his team a win in a game it should have won, and it takes away from the performance of Freeman and Lindsay. In fact, had Musgrave done what any capable offensive coordinator would have, Freeman and Lindsay would have finished with better nights (namely Freeman, who had only eight freaking carries) and the Broncos would have won.
Numbers don’t lie.