Part of that has come down to the teams inability to score more points in those close games. Holding the Houston Texans to 19 points at home should be a win most weeks, but under Vance Joseph they are piling up the losses.
After reviewing film, Joseph talked about what the Broncos need to do moving forward to generate different results in the scoreboard.
“I think offensively we have to obviously start faster and score more points early,” Joseph said on Monday. “Obviously, being better in the red zone and being better on third downs—the numbers don’t lie there. I think defensively we had a couple games where we didn’t stop the run. Our nickel run defense wasn’t very good. Our base run defense was really good. Obviously, taking the ball away more and helping our team that way, we need more of that. On special teams, our return units have to get better. There’s a lot of things that we watched and saw that we can get better at.”
The defense and special teams units seem to be mostly doing enough to win games. The struggles are coming from the offense.
Despite Case Keenum having his best game of the season, the Broncos came away with a mere 17 points at home. That’s not going to win many games.
For Joseph, the key is starting faster.
“I think the first 15-20 plays of the game, you can tell right away if your plan is pretty good or if your plan is not good or if it’s player error,” Joseph said. “In my experience in this league, in that first 15-20 plays, you can tell right away. If your plan is good, if your team matches up well, you just know. I think in the first 15-20 on both sides of the ball, we have to play better football. Last week against the Texans, the first drive, they score on us. Now, we had some player error in that drive that we can’t have, but offensively, we didn’t get our first first down until almost the second quarter. We can’t have droughts like that and expect to win games.”
Apparently, Joseph is talking about just this last game and not taking the entire season into account. Starting fast is important, but finishing is even more vital and the Broncos offense isn’t finishing anything after that first quarter in games.
For Joseph, everything is on the table and desperation is setting in.
“Absolutely, our team is desperate,” Joseph said. “When you watch us play, we do play a desperate brand of football. I told the guys, hope can’t be your strategy. You can’t hope to win, you can’t luck-in to win an NFL game. It’s too hard. We have to play better football. We have to score more points early and play dominant defense. That’s our brand of football. Hope can’t be your strategy. You’ve got to play better.”
We saw that brand of desperation last week as Joseph chased points at the end of the first half with an inadvisable 62-yard field goal attempt that ended up giving the Texans the decisive field goal. We saw that desperation when he again settled for a 50-plus yard field goal instead of risking a negative play at the end of the game.
“Whatever it takes,” Joseph said when asked how the team will score more points. “It’s as simple as that. Score more points—whatever it takes.”
The Broncos must win. Whatever it takes.