It’s halfway through the 2018 season, and the Broncos are 3-5 - ironically the same record as last season at this time, despite a few big changes on the roster.
So that prompted Ryan Edwards and Andrew Mason of First & 10 @ 10 on Orange and Blue Radio to look up some comparisons between the team in 2018 versus 2017 through the first eight games.
The passing yards per game is 11 more per game in 2018 than 2017, and the rushing yards per game is 21 yards per game better in 2018.
While Trevor Siemian had nine touchdowns and 10 interceptions after seven games (because he was benched after that), Case Keenum has just one more touchdown but also 10 INTs through Week 8.
As a team, the Broncos in 2018 have turned the ball over only 11 times compared to 19 at this point last year.
On the production side, both running the ball and receiving are better in 2018. Phillip Lindsay leads the running backs with 531 total yards (5.7 yards per carry average) and three rushing touchdowns, compared to C.J. Anderson’s 482 yards and one rushing touchdown. When you add in receiving yards and touchdowns for running backs, Lindsay also wins with 4 total touchdowns compared to three for Anderson.
The offensive line of 2017 had allowed 28 sacks while the current version has allowed just 22.
The quarterback passer rating for Siemian ranked 33rd overall compared to Keenum’s current 26th position.
“So you’re seeing that the Broncos are better at running, better at receiving, slightly better at passing,” Edwards said before changing directions. “But when it feels like things are trending right direction - like with the rushing attack, receivers giving better production, play call sets up better for some players - yet you’re seeing same inconsistencies with the QB, that’s exactly what’s happening.”
And by “exactly what’s happening,” Edwards means poor quarterback play is bringing down the offense.
“You brought in Case Keenum NOT to do those things,” he added. “He is basically the same as the guys you brought him in to replace.”
The same trend is true for the defense. While many things are better, a few things are not, and it’s making a big difference.
Last season the Broncos’ defense gave up an average of 203 passing yards and 88 rushing yards per game through the first eight weeks. But this season the defense has given up 229 passing yards and 148 rushing yards on average per game - which if you don’t like to do math, is 26 more yards per game in the air but 60 more yards per game on the ground that the defense is allowing.
Mason pointed out that some of that may have stabilized now that the Broncos have held Kareem Hunt to just 50 yards on Sunday, but he noted that the rushing yards stat “may not fully recover from the gashing” that the Run D received in back-to-back games against the Jets and Rams.
“These numbers tell me that the Broncos aren’t as far removed in some ways from last year’s team, and in other ways they are trending better, but it isn’t enough,” Edwards said. “We’re seeing a team that is close but not good enough - and why not? Well, quarterback inconsistencies and penalties.”
Mase pointed out the Broncos need to go 7-1 in the back half of the season to have even a chance at the playoffs, but Zac Stevens, who joined from BSN Denver, offered that going 4-4 in the next half might be the best the Broncos can hope for - and would still provide some optimism going into next season with so much young talent.