With a legitimate chance at competing for a playoff spot, the Denver Broncos were down 20-0 halftime against a putrid 2-10 team. The Broncos were completely unprepared for the San Francisco 49ers, despite them only having one legitimate weapon on offense in tight end George Kittle.
When the defense wasn’t giving up yards and points, the offense was doing exactly nothing. Head Coach Vance Joseph looked to quarterback Case Keenum to get better.
“We had some chances down the field,” Joseph said on Monday. “We didn’t hit them. We missed three or four chances to make some big plays in the pass game. This defense that we played, they were going to be single-high all day—cover-three or cover-one all day. We knew going into the game running the football was going to be tough because of loaded boxes. You have to make plays in the pass game versus those kind of defenses to kind of soften them up a little bit and we didn’t make those plays. They were there and we didn’t make them.”
While it is true that Keenum took a few shots downfield that didn’t work out, he mostly kept it nice and safe. Broncos fans would have recognized this place style from the two years Trevor Siemian was quarterback here.
Keenum finished 24/48 for a whooping 186 yards and a touchdown. With a lack of a rushing attack, the Broncos needed Keenum to step up and he didn’t.
“I thought Case was fine,” Joseph said of Keenum. “I thought Case has played his best football the last month. Yesterday, he was a little cautious with the ball. The bottom line: we’ve got three weeks to play, he’s got to make more plays and sometimes taking some chances allows you to make more plays. There are going to be turnovers so he can’t worry about that. You can’t play this game perfect, but I want Case to be more aggressive, especially down the seams of those cover-three defenses. That’s where the soft spots are. He’s got to be aggressive down the seams and not worry about making mistakes.”
That last part is something I’ve lamented since about Week 3 this season. After that first game where Keenum threw three interceptions to his three touchdowns, the play calls and decision making seemed to go full-Siemian. Keeping things nice and safe underneath and taking a few shots downfield on go routes.
All very predictable.
“I think it’s a combination of Case wanting to be safe with the ball and obviously seeing different looks,” Joseph said of Keenum’s unwillingness to take risks. “In my opinion, being safe with the ball allows you to have great numbers in that category, but as far as making plays on the field, you can’t be safe doing that. He’s got to take more chances down the middle of the field and he will tell you that.”
It’s Week 15. It’s nice to see the head coach finally recognize that risk taking is part of the NFL.
All facetiousness aside, Keenum taking more risks will likely produce more turnovers, but it will also produce more points. It would also allow the offense to get more rhythm, I think. I’ll take the good and the bad if it leads to more points.
As it stands, the Broncos need to win out and get a whole lot of help from other teams to have a shot at making it into the playoffs at 9-7.