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Horse Tracks: Broncos should have better red zone play from their quarterback in 2018

Good Morning Broncos Country!

Denver Broncos v Kansas City Chief Photo by Peter Aiken/Getty Images

On Monday, Pro Football Focus’s Steve Palazzolo tweeted out who the lowest-graded quarterbacks in the red zone were the past three seasons. This list included two Broncos quarterbacks who have started a good number of games under center for the team during that three-year span.

Those two quarterbacks are the former quarterback of the future Brock Osweiler and 2016 and 2017 week one starter, Trevor Siemian.

We all know about Osweiler’s struggles with the Texans. He played there for one season(15 games) after signing a mega-deal with them before being shipped off in a trade just one-year later. He then was cut by the Browns that summer and ultimately joined the Broncos. After playing in 8 games for the Broncos in 2015 he returned to play in 6 games for them in 2017.

I don’t have the numbers in front of me but I would guess that Brock’s terrible one season with the Texans is a big reason why he is on this list. He never played great for the Broncos but did play better for them than he ever did with the Texans.

Next, we have Trevor Siemian who played in 25 games(started 24) for the Broncos the past two seasons. Him being included on this list is a big reason for the Broncos struggles the past two seasons and why they shipped him off to Minnesota and upgraded the quarterback position.

So why are the Broncos expecting to have better play from their quarterbacks in the red zone? Two words: Case Keenum.

According to numberFire, Keenum was among the top 5 efficient quarterbacks in the red zone in 2017.

Prior to 2017, everyone in the football community thought we pretty much knew what Case Keenum was, and that was a journeyman backup. But he had himself a monster season, ranking in the top 10 in passer rating (98.3), adjusted yards per attempt (7.63) and completion percentage (67.6 percent) as he helped the Minnesota Vikings make it all the way to the NFC title game.

Keenum led the league in terms of red-zone passing Success Rate-- the percentage of his drop backs that resulted in positive NEP -- with a clip of 53.70%. He threw 17 touchdowns to zero interceptions inside the 20 and was sacked only twice. Eighteen other quarterbacks attempted more passes than Keenum’s 52 inside the red zone, but only two managed a higher red-zone touchdown rate than the 32.69% clip that Keenum posted.

If Keenum can repeat this in 2018 for the Broncos, we could see some big-time improvements to the offense that really struggled the past two seasons.

What should also excite the Broncos and its fans is wide receiver Demaryius Thomas’s play in the red zone as well.

According to Pro Football Focus, Thomas had the 7th best passer rating among wide receivers when targeted in the red zone. This was with below average quarterback play as well, so we should hopefully see these numbers rise in 2018.

The combination of Keenum’s top-notch red zone play coupled with Demaryius Thomas’s red zone efficiency, we should see some big-time improvements from the Broncos offense. Add in the projected improvements to the team’s offensive line and the hype surrounding rookie running back Royce Freeman, we could see a return to some old-school Denver Broncos offense in 2018.

Horse Tracks:

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