Von Miller is gone and the Broncos sit at 4-4 with seven of their nine remaining games against teams with winning records.
The four wins have come against some of the worst teams in the league. The four losses were against good teams having a down week that a “stronger-on-paper” Broncos team could not take advantage of and get the win.
And to watch the team play has been even more frustrating than reading the stats.
Some of the stats are even shockingly good. Joe Mahoney pointed out that in spite of all its missed tackles, poor run stopping and bad pass defense, the Broncos’ D is ranked second for points allowed to an opposing offense - just 17.1 points per game.
Against Washington Football Team the Broncos pass rush had 19 quarterback pressures and five sacks. The defense also turned in a blocked field goal, an interception and two red zone stands right at the end of the game (one thanks in part to total ineptitude by the offensive coordinator, but whatever).
But even the offense - as inept as it has seemed - has some interesting numbers to its stat sheet.
Andrew Mason pointed out that even though the offense is scoring fewer points per game than last season, it has actually improved in some key areas - more points per possession for one.
The Broncos are scoring fewer points per game this year than in 2020.— Andrew Mason (@MaseDenver) November 5, 2021
But they're scoring more points per possession, gaining more yards per possession, holding the ball for much longer per series and have substantially reduced their giveaway rate.https://t.co/L9UWsWnjfo
So the ability to win is not as hopeless as it might seem with this team (admittedly, watching them play does not inspire hope).
And George Paton claims to believe in this team’s ability to make a push in the second half of the season with the players on the roster (and apparently the coaches too).
“Moving forward with this team, I believe in the players here. I believe in the coaches here. We’re 4-4. It hasn’t been perfect,” he said following the trade of Von Miller to the Rams. “We have a long way to go, but I do believe in the players. We’re 4-4 and everything is in front of us. We’re still in the thick of it, but yes, we do have a long way to go. I really look forward to the second part of the season, and that starts Sunday with the Cowboys, a great football team.”
As usual the players are saying all the right things in their press conferences:
“We have a lot of games left, and we got a great group of guys. We still have a ton of leaders in this locker room. I watch these guys work on a day-to-day basis and I’m excited for things in front of us. ...It’s just approaching it week-to-week and just coming out and playing with some confidence and executing the game plan...I think we have the right guys here, the right mentality, and the right mindset to move forward. I look forward to all the possibilities for us.”
“We realize the rest of the schedule. We’ve got a lot of tough teams left. Obviously, we play Dallas this week. We’ve still got to play the Chargers twice, and another game against the Raiders—the Chiefs. There’s a lot of tough games left on the schedule, but I think with the preparation that we’re having, I love the environment and the culture. It’s tough when you’re losing. You’re like, ‘None of that stuff really adds up.’ You find ways to win, like I talk about every week. It doesn’t really matter what you’re doing throughout the week. All it really matters is that you’re winning on Sunday. If we could just continually find ways to win on Sundays, I think we’re going to obviously be more than OK.”
Teddy Bridgewater on how the offense can get better:
“We’ve just got to be more consistent and have more explosive plays. If you look at us Sunday, those drives that we had those explosive plays, they led to points. That’s just how this league works. If you can get an explosive play each drive, you can put yourself in a position to get some points. We can be better in that aspect. I think we’re doing a good job of getting the ball to our guys and allowing them to make plays. Now it’s time to just put it all together—the explosives, the quicks, the screens, and being efficient on first and second down. Like last week, I think it might have been one of our best games on third down. We were better in the red zone. There were positives to take away from it, but I agree with [General Manager] George [Paton]. I think we can be better by putting our guys in the best position to not only make plays, but to make those explosive plays.”
OK, Broncos. It’s on you, then.
We’re tired of listening. We want to see it.
You say you have all the tools. You say you’re practicing hard. You say it’s just about “executing” the plays. You say the locker room culture is strong. That guys aren’t down on each other or their coaches, that the loss of Von Miller can be overcome - both on the field and in the locker room.
OK, then. Show us on Sunday. Dallas is the third-best scoring offense in the league at over 33 points a game, and its defense is only 16th in points allowed against it (23.1), but that’s still more points than you have scored most games so far.
So if you want to prove to Broncos Country that you haven’t given up, then show us.
Get on the field and show us that you care about tackling the guy with the ball.
Get on the field and show us that you can see the open receivers and connect with them.
Get on the field and show us you can stop the running back.
Get on the field and show us that you can block for your QB without a holding penalty.
Get on the field and show us that you can cover the receivers and prevent the big play.
Get on the field and show us that you can play through the whistle, give it your best football and do everything you can to win.
This isn’t a game you should win. Show us you care enough to try.
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