The Denver Broncos had an awful start to the season. They struggled in all phases of the game, and looked like a team without a plan. Some fans, myself included, had high expectations. Some did not. Those fans were the lucky ones. Why were expectations so high for some of us? It has to be the coaches.
After a year of ineptitude, the belief was that everything was fixed by hiring Vic Fangio. We even touted his staff as a “super staff.” However, on the MHR Radio Podcast (Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, and Spotify), Ian St. Clair and I noticed issues that seemed to come from a new staff with less experience. For me, a big issue with the loss to the Oakland Raiders, and for Ian, that extended to play calling in the red zone.
I’m not an expert play caller. And I am not going to break down each individual call, but if the Broncos want to find success against the Chicago Bears in Week Two, they are going to have to come up with a better plan than what they had against the Raiders. Sure, an obvious statement, but it runs deeper than that.
The Bears are a solid football team on defense, thanks primarily to Fangio. Their offense has a ton of potential. A defense that looks as lost as they did for most of the game on Monday night will find itself in a similar situation against a Chicago team that is better, and more talented, all around. Fangio and Ed Donatell will need to re-evaluate how they want to attack on defense. It appeared that Derek Carr had the ability to get the throw out quick enough to stymie Denver’s great pass rushers. The blueprint is there. Now, it will take an adjustment from this highly touted coaching staff to prevent a repeat of Week One.
On the podcast, I mentioned more man coverage, or tighter play by the corners. The zone scheme seemed to allow for Carr to get the ball out quick and let his playmakers make plays. It negated the abilities of the defensive line, and the outside pass rush. A little more pressure at the line could give Von Miller and Bradley Chubb that extra split second they need to get home and put real pressure on Mitchell Trubisky.
On offense, it has to be about improving the red zone offense. Rich Scangarello seemed unsure of himself once Denver got inside the 20-yard line. As Ian mentioned on the podcast and in the staff keys to the game, the Broncos ran 14 plays inside the 20, six inside the 10-yard line. They converted only one touchdown in all of that. A repeat against the Bears will create the same result — a loss.
The offense is capable of moving the ball. In the NFL, it gets harder to call plays the closer you get to the end zone. Scangarello and Joe Flacco discovered that against the Raiders. With only two three-and-outs, the offense showed it could move the ball. Now, it has to show it can finish drives.
Yes, if DaeSean Hamilton uses his hands instead of his shoulder pads, we are probably having a different conversation. That should be encouraging to everyone, but the Bears defense is miles better than the Raiders. It will take better scheming, better play calling, and all around better performances if Denver wants to get one in the win column.
Starting 0-2 could spell disaster. Then again, 2-0 didn’t mean much in 2018, or 4-0 in 2017.