The Denver Broncos have lost both of their first two games to start the season and a big reason why has been their inability to score touchdowns over field goals. They have moved the ball well between the 20s in both games, but when it came to closing the deal the Broncos have consistently come up short.
Those red zone woes is the topic that ate much of the Broncos presser on Wednesday. Head Coach Vic Fangio, along with Joe Flacco and Phillip Lindsay all had comments around what they can do better offensively to put touchdowns on the board.
How can the Broncos fix their red zone issues
Fangio, as well as the rest of us, is pleased with the offenses ability to move the ball between the 20s. He kept his response mostly within coachspeak, but the last part was the important part. They are trying to find plays they can execute down there in the red zone and once they do, they’ll be able to start putting those touchdowns on the board.
“We’re moving the ball between the 20 and the plus-45. We’ve had a few too many drives where we’re just on the verge of at least a field goal that we haven’t finished that part of it so that’s been a little bit of an issue. The red zone once we have gotten down there has been an issue. It’s a multitude of things. We’ll keep working on it. We practice it more than most I think, so we just have to keep grinding away at it and find the best plays. We have to find the plays we can execute, and the players have to execute.”
Joe Flacco added onto that theme. He went a bit further, however, and noted that the offense is doing little things that are setting them back. Personally, I think this is reference to the Garett Bolles issues along the offensive line, but Flacco didn’t come outright and say it.
“You can point to a lot of things. When you watch the film, it’s clear. There’s a thing here or a thing there. You can probably dissect it in a bunch of ways. You can say, hey, if we just get these things, and you can also say—you have to account for some of these things happening against a good football thing and you have to find it and overcome it. I think our issue right now is we’re definitely hurting ourselves, whether they are penalties or an assignment here or there. We’re getting across the 50 and then we’re doing something like that that is kind of backing us up. Once we get in the flow of the game that stuff is not happening as much.”
The offense is currently averaging top five in yards per drive, but are near the bottom of the league in points per game. Flacco was asked about that and what it comes down to is the little things the offense is doing to hurt themselves once they get down in scoring range.
“I think we’ve been in two very low-possession games, so when you hurt yourself when you get in to that field goal range or your quite don’t get into field goal range, that’s how that’s going to be. Obviously, you’re going to play some games throughout the year that you don’t score a ton of points and you have to win them that way. I think this past Sunday was one of those games. It just happened to be one of the first two and in the first game we didn’t operate as well as we wanted to. When you look at those stats after two games, it’s tough to really tell much about it. I think we’re definitely gaining the confidence that we can be a really good offense, we just have to go out there and really start to do it.”
The Broncos rushing attack has been largely disappointing. Phillip Lindsay has run the ball 24 times for 79 yards for 3.3 yards per carry, while Royce Freeman has 21 for 110 at 5.2 yards per carry. Lindsay had his longest run of the season - a 19 yarder - wiped out by a Bolles hold, so those stats don’t tell the whole story either. When asked what the offense needs to do to improve in the red zone, Lindsay focused on playmakers making plays.
“It’s a mentality. It’s about making plays. We have to go out there and make the plays. The offensive coordinator gets everything for us, but we have to get in the end zone. It’s just about us being confident in our abilities and making plays.”
It all really comes down to execution. I suspect Bolles will continue killing a drive here and there in every single game until he is benched, but its on those drives that he doesn’t kill that the Broncos need to start closing the deal. Otherwise it will quickly turn into a long season.
How can the Broncos contain Aaron Rodgers
The presser spent a lot of time talking about the Green Bay Packers too. Fangio had plenty to say about them and Rodgers. Here were some of the highlights from those comments.
On how much his experience against Rodgers will help this week
“He’s one of the best of all time so there’s not a lot that’s giving him a lot of trouble. One of the definitions of a great quarterback is there’s really no one way to play them so you just have to mix it up on them. He’s a great passer, quick release, great arm strength, mobile, scrambler, creator. He’s a great player.’
On Rodgers under new offense with Packers Head Coach Matt LaFleur
“It’s an entirely new offense schematically for him. You can see from week to week, although it’s just short season so far, they’re starting to put in some of the schemes and plays he had run in the past with the previous Green Bay offense, so you see a little bit of an evolving offense in that way.”
On Rodgers during the two-minute drill
“He’s got all the qualities to do that, obviously the arm strength, the quick release, command of the offense, scrambling ability, improvisation, making plays on the move and he’s got athletic arrogance, which is a compliment. He just thinks he can do it.”
On how different the Packers offense is this year
“A lot different. The scheme is totally different. The only thing I will say is they are filtering in some of the stuff that they used to do that he (Rodgers) ran for his entire career. You just don’t know how much they’re going to do of that.”
What has happened to Broncos pass rush
One topic on everyone’s mind in Denver is what has happened to the Broncos pass rush with Von Miller and Bradley Chubb. Fangio made a point to note that it is too early to be panicking over the pass rush, though there was one play where he felt disappointing the pass rush and that was on the fourth and 15 play against the Chicago Bears.
On if there is anything he can do schematically to get sacks
“I don’t think so, not to the degree you’re alluding to. When it’s first and second down you have to be able to play your basic defenses when they can run or pass. Third down and longer, sometimes you can do a thing or two, but they’ll still be aware of where they are.”
On if he is concerned about the lack of sacks
“Not at this point, OK. The only thing I will say is I was disappointed in our rush in the last drive, but prior to that in these first two games they’ve been unusual games as it related to pass rush.”