At this point in the season the Denver Broncos are currently without WR2, WR3, TE2, one of our starting ILBs and one of our starting OLBs. That’s quite a bit of lost production to replace with backups. I’m going to break it down by position group starting with the offense.
The offensive line has been stable at tackle and center but our starting guards have both missed time with injuries.
Both Netane Muti and Quinn Meinerz have started at least one game during the first five.
Our pass protection has been terrible according to pro-football-reference.com. Their advanced passing stats show that Teddy Bridgewater has been pressured the second most often among starting quarterbacks in the league - on 32.1 percent of his dropbacks.
Given the amount of pressure he has been under from opposing defenses, his performance has been quite amazing. For comparison, Dak Prescott has only been pressured on 13.3 percent of his dropbacks.
The playing time has been pretty evenly split for our two starting running backs.
Damarea Crockett has only seen offensive snaps in our one blowout win. The running game has been fairly solid through the first five games. The Broncos are currently eight in yards per carry and that is not as buoyed by the 70 touchdown run as it once was (still the longest run of the season by any team). If you remove every teams longest run, the Broncos only fall to twelfth.
|4||Kansas City Chiefs||126||641||3||24||5.09||617||4.94|
|11||Los Angeles Chargers||127||542||5||21||4.27||521||4.13|
|15||San Francisco 49ers||144||610||6||38||4.24||572||4.00|
|17||New Orleans Saints||156||629||5||23||4.03||606||3.91|
|19||Washington Football Team||135||544||5||27||4.03||517||3.86|
|20||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||103||410||4||21||3.98||389||3.81|
|22||New York Giants||120||479||5||46||3.99||433||3.64|
|23||Los Angeles Rams||128||490||4||29||3.83||461||3.63|
|25||Green Bay Packers||126||503||3||57||3.99||446||3.57|
|29||New York Jets||104||370||3||17||3.56||353||3.43|
|30||New England Patriots||109||400||3||35||3.67||365||3.38|
|31||Las Vegas Raiders||121||393||4||31||3.25||362||3.02|
The Broncos are currently the worst team in the league at converting on third down. They have converted on only 18 of 63 attempts - 28.6 percent. In terms of total third down conversions, they are tied with three other teams at 18, but have more chances hence the worst conversion rate. Conversely the Chiefs are converting at a sick rate of 58.8 percent on their third down attempts.
One reason the Broncos have been so bad at converting on third down is that we have the second longest average yardage needed on third down at 8.0 yards. Only the Vikings have been worse.
The Broncos have averaged 8.4 yards needed on 2nd down and 8.0 yards needed on 3rd down this year. Only the MIN offense has been worse. pic.twitter.com/YT35AydTbx— Joseph Mahoney (@ndjomo76) October 11, 2021
Twenty-four of the Broncos 63 3rd downs have been 10 or more yards needed (38%). On the flipside the Broncos have only had 13 third and short (3 or fewer yards needed) situations. One positive note is that nine of the Broncos eighteen third down conversions have come on third and long (7 or more needed).
The tight end group has seen an increased usage of Noah Fant after the loss of Albert Okweugbunam.
Unfortunately we have not really used any of our tight ends as receivers in the red zone where they all should be weapons. I would have liked to see Fant targeted with one of those end of the game goal-to-go passes last game. A fade to 5’8” Diontae Spencer was exactly what the Steelers wanted us to do. With three taller receivers on the field (Sutton, Patrick and Fant are all 6-4), why would we be throwing to the smallest receiver we have in the endzone with the game on the line?
Losing Albert O. has also meant significantly less two and three tight end formations from our offense. During the past two games, Pat Shurmur has reverted to what we did in 2020, which was three WR sets as our “base” offense. If you count Andrew Beck as a TE, our TEs combined to play 123 offensive snaps in week three. The team only had 67 offensive snaps, meaning that our normal formation was two TE. Compare that to the 78 total TE snaps on offense that we saw against the Steelers where the offense ran 60 plays.
The Broncos currently rank 29th in red zone touchdown percentage with a TD rate of 42.1%. Only the Giants, Patriots and Colts have been worse. The Saints are scoring touchdowns on a crazy pace of 92.9 percent of the time when they reach the red zone (13 of 14).
Our WR group has been plagued by injuries and currently only has one healthy guy who the league valued coming out of college - Courtland Sutton. The rest of the healthy group is either seventh round picks (David Moore and Tyrie Cleveland) or undrafted guys (Tim Patrick, Kendall Hinton and Diontae Spencer).
With the loss of both Jerry Jeudy and KJ Hamler, Kendall Hinton has become WR3. I love Hinton’s story, but he’s not a threat to opposing defenses the way that either Jeudy or Hamler are. The only speed threats that we currently have at WR are Spencer, who has not proven he can catch deep passes in the NFL, and Moore, who is still learning the playbook after we grabbed him from the Las Vegas Raiders practice squad. I expect either Spencer or Moore to be released once Jeudy is healthy. Hinton has proven he can handle the punt return duties and frankly he has proven he is a more reliable target in the passing game that Spencer.
It would appear that both Spencer (game three) and Moore (game four) got shots at being WR3 until Jeudy is back, but Hinton won the job.