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Terrible offense in 20-3 loss to Bills means the time for Drew Lock has arrived

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The Broncos offseason evaluations need to begin.

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The Denver Broncos offense had the ball for 10 drives in Sunday’s “game” against the Buffalo Bills (quotes added for irony if you weren’t sure).

On five of those drives, they provided only three plays and a punt.

In a sixth, the Broncos offense made it to four plays before punting.

On only one of the other four drives did the Broncos’ offense get any points. And then it was just three.

The Broncos began the fourth quarter with 136 net yards - but finished the game with 134.

It was the epitome of pathetic.

“I thought we were sluggish offensively, we didn’t execute very well,” said Brandon Allen before offering perhaps my least favorite cliché - “Give [Buffalo] a lot of credit, they had a good plan for us.”

They had a plan for us is really just code for we got our butts whooped.

As Vic Fangio noted.

“I just think their whole defense, as a whole, kind of just whipped us,” he said. “It left the opportunities for everybody down to a minimum.”

Tim Patrick was a little more precise: “We just got our ass beat, honestly,” he told Nicki Jhabvala. “I can’t really say much about the game plan. It’s not my place. At the end of the day, we just got our ass beat.”

No truer words.

Broncos were 2-of-11 on third-down conversions, while the Bills were 8-of-16.

The Bills’ rookie running back Devin Singletary racked up 106 rushing yards - 21 more than the Broncos’ entire RB corps and 24 more than Brandon Allen’s total passing yards.

Although the Broncos’ defense kept the Bills to two field goals in the first half despite two trips to the red zone, two quick TD strikes in the second half were a stark reminder of what happens when the offense can’t uphold its end of the bargain.

In the first half, every Bills’ offensive drive started no farther than on their own 15. But in the second half, Buffalo started near midfield on all drives but one.

One touchdown drive even started at the Broncos’ 31-yard line, a spot made possible from kicking deep in your own end zone and then having a player get called for unnecessary roughness to tack on another 15 yards closer to Denver’s end zone.

Two plays later, Josh Allen hit John Brown in the back of the end zone for what was ruled upon video review a 34-yard touchdown catch.

“We knew they had a good defense. They squeezed our run game pretty good, couldn’t really get anything going in the passing game obviously, and when we do get a chance, I make that poor decision on the [interception],” Brandon Allen added. “Trying to find completions out there was tough, and I obviously didn’t do a very good job with it.”

As a case in point, Allen connected with Courtland Sutton just one time the entire game - and had only 10 passes caught in the four quarters.

“We knew going into the game that they had a really good defense, they executed and we came up short and we weren’t able to execute when we needed to, and the defense gave us the ball in pretty good positions to score and sometimes we hurt ourselves,” Sutton acknowledged. “Taking ourselves out of position to get points, and it’s hard to play behind the sticks and we didn’t execute when we needed to.”

Unfortunately, the Denver defense didn’t execute either.

At least not enough.

“We kind of dug ourselves into a hole, and we pretty much stayed there the rest of the game,” Kareem Jackson told Jhabvala after the game. “We couldn’t get off on third down. Had a couple of plays where the quarterback extended the play with a run. I think that’s what hurt us early.”

Although the D produced some good stops to keep at least a few points off the board for Buffalo, in the end the Broncos’ defense was exposed for what it is - a lack of talent and depth that cannot be overcome an entire game.

Chris Harris Jr. downplayed his own poor coverage on the touchdowns and attributed a lot of the defense’s pitfalls to the QB’s success running with the ball.

Josh Allen just made key plays on third down with his legs and kept the long drives going, and I think they ran the ball pretty solid today, and we didn’t tackle as well as we have in the past,” Harris Jr. said. “And, shoot, by the time that happened, the game was over with.”

But even in the run game, where the defense has shined, Broncos couldn’t contain a speedy rookie.

“We’ve played good offensive teams and good backs before, but call it what you want, they did a little bit better job executing,” Justin Simmons said. “That’s not on just one group in the defensive unit, that’s all 11 guys in the run game.”

Although the defense had opportunities to get the Bills’ offense off the field sooner on a few drives, the red zone D was for the most part a bright spot on the day.

“We had a couple third downs where we could’ve got off the field and kept them out of the red zone, so that’s part of the give and take,” said the safety, who came away with an interception that the offense sadly could do nothing with except give it right back.

“The red zone [defense] was a little bit better today, we still gave up one kind of later in the game, and then obviously coming out in the second half we can’t give up a touchdown right off the gate when we’re starting in the second half, so we just have to be better in that,” Simmons added.

Of 12 Bills’ possessions in the game, they scored on only four, and only two touchdowns - a mere 20 points.

Yet the offense couldn’t even come close to making it a game.

Which means the Brandon Allen Era needs to be over and the Drew Lock Experiment should begin. Although Fangio said after the game he “hasn’t even thought about” whether Lock will start next week versus the Chargers, the coach will most definitely be thinking about it today.

Yesterday’s team isn’t going anywhere in the postseason, even with a miraculous 8-8 finish and a wave of the wand from the playoff math gods.

The 2020 offseason evaluation needs to begin.