First off, the defense has not been very ugly. Yes, they have been allowing 5.0 yards per carry on first downs (which is 8th worst in the league), but the team is only allowing 16 points per game which is currently tied for fifth best in the league. Points are what matter. Also remember that the defense has only allowed five touchdowns in five games (the offense has allowed one with a fumble return TD).
The sixteen ppg allowed through five games is the 8th best in Bronco franchise history. It is interesting to note that in the seven better seasons (on defense) only once (2006) did the offense score more than the defense allowed through five games. The ‘06 offense only scored 62 points while the defense only allowed 37 through five. The team was 4-1 after five games but finished 9-7. In some of those seasons the defense was playing fairly well while the offense sputtered, while in others both the offense and the defense were in shambles. That ‘06 defense was amazing, until it fell apart. It allowed only 44 points in the first six games (the team started 5-1). The team went 4-6 in the final ten games and allowed 26.1 points per game in the final ten (after allowing 7.3 ppg in the first six games). 48 of those 261 points came in one game against the Chargers. I don’t remember what changed defensively after the sixth game, but that defense fell apart in spectacular fashion. Let’s hope that doesn’t happen with the 2022 defense.
Three of the losses where the ‘06 D got smoked were against Peyton Manning’s Colts (2006 was one of Manning’s best seasons) and Philip River’s/LaDainian Tomlinson’s Chargers. Those three losses accounted for 117 of the 261 points allowed by the ‘06 defense in the final 10 games. I know that Shanny lost the locker room when he switched to Jay Cutler at QB, but I had forgotten that the defense crashed and burned after that as well.
In terms of yards per play allowed, the 2022 Bronco defense is currently 6th at 4.71. The 49ers defense is leading the league (by far) at 4.01. The Seahawks defense is currently last at 6.55. I find it interesting that Broncos offense has faced both defenses.
The Broncos defense is currently 20th in yards per carry allowed (4.68 ypc). The 49ers are first at 3.00 and the Chargers (our next opponent) are last at 5.82 by a good margin. Next Sunday might be a very good day for the Bronco run game to get “right”.
The Bronco defense is currently 8th in the league at pressuring the opposing passer at 26.6% after giving Matt Ryan nightmares on Thursday night. The Cowboys have the most pressures with 73 and the highest pressure rate at 33.6%. PFR shows that Broncos are 7th in the league in total pressures with 51 and 5th in sacks with 17. The 49ers have the league lead with 21 sacks. The Falcons currently have the worst pass rush in the league at 10.8% and the Chargers are near the bottom at 17.0%. The Chargers pass rush (minus Nick Bosa) against the patchwork Denver OLine will be an interesting matchup next game. The Chargers are still going to have Khalil Mack facing Calvin Anderson on Sunday.
|2||San Francisco 49ers||171||2||52||26.0%||22||11.0%||20||11.7%||21||63||31.5%|
|3||New York Jets||153||7||27||15.6%||13||7.5%||27||17.6%||10||50||28.9%|
|7||New York Giants||154||6||77||43.3%||20||11.2%||17||11.0%||11||48||27.0%|
|10||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||179||7||61||29.6%||14||6.8%||21||11.7%||19||54||26.2%|
|11||New England Patriots||165||8||55||30.1%||22||12.0%||12||7.3%||13||47||25.7%|
|12||Kansas City Chiefs||205||12||53||23.8%||22||9.9%||22||10.7%||13||57||25.6%|
|13||Green Bay Packers||133||4||51||33.8%||12||7.9%||14||10.5%||12||38||25.2%|
|25||Los Angeles Chargers||180||10||51||26.3%||10||5.2%||17||9.4%||11||38||19.6%|
|27||New Orleans Saints||156||6||26||15.1%||10||5.8%||9||5.8%||10||29||16.9%|
|29||Las Vegas Raiders||178||11||32||16.5%||10||5.2%||12||6.7%||8||30||15.5%|
|31||Los Angeles Rams||158||6||56||31.3%||4||2.2%||9||5.7%||10||23||12.8%|
In terms of passer rating allowed so far the Broncos are 9th best in the league at 78.1. The Bills are first at 67.8 and the Seahawks are last at 106.6. Of course the Broncos have yet to face any elite QBs. Yes, Geno Smith has been quite good this year, but that coach is going to turn back into a pumpkin soon. I’ll remind you that Kyle Allen looked like a world-beater at QB at one point too. The fact of the matter is, the QBs that the Denver defense will face are only going to get better as the season goes on.
The defense is currently tied for 8th in 3rd down percentage allowed at 31.7%. The Titans lead the league at 27.1% while the Bears are the worst at 50.7%. The defense has also been quite good at stopping opponents on 4th down allowing conversion on only one of four (25%). That is tied for second with four other teams. The Bengals are the best so far having allowed conversion on only one of six.
Our defense has also been the best in the league in the red zone having only allowed TDs on three of eleven red zone trips by opponents. The eleven red zone drives allowed is tied fourth with the Rams. Only the 49ers (9) and the Cowboys (10) have allowed fewer RZ penetrations.
Our defense has been good in most situations, save two. Right now the defense is terrible on 2nd and medium (4-6 needed). The Broncos are allowing 5.05 yards per carry in those situations and a passer rating of 140.3. The other situation where the defense has faltered is 3rd and short. We’re allowing a crazy 7.26 yards per carry on runs and a passer rating of 120.3 on 3rd and short (1-3 needed).
Our special teams have been doing a good job of playing the field position game. Our opponent’s average drive start is tied for 7th best at the 26.2. Our punter is currently 5th in gross average at 50.2 and our punt returner leads the league averaging 13.0 yards per return. Montrell Washington also currently has the 4th longest punt return of the season at 30 yards. Our punt coverage team is tied for 9th allowing only 6.3 yards per return and our KO coverage unit is currently tied for 17th allowing 21.4. Partly because of our lack of scoring and partly because of Brandon McManus’ leg we have only had eight kickoffs returned against us. That is about average. The Cowboys have had one kickoff returned against them because their place kicker has gotten touchbacks on 24 of 25.
McManus touchback rate is actually fairly low (64%), not because he can’t put the ball out of the end zone every time, but because he is being coached to try and land the ball at the one or two so that we can force the opponent to start their drive at at spot worse than the 25.
This is where is gets really UGLY
The Bronco offense is currently second to last in scoring (15 ppg). Only the Colts have been worse (13.8). The Bills currently lead the league with 30.4 ppg.
The red zone TD% is currently not only the worst in the league, but it is on a historically bad pace. The Broncos offense has only scored TDs on 3 of 14 RZ trips. Read my reply to my tweet below to see the final records of the other teams on that list. It’s not pretty.
Right now the Broncos are on a historic pace (at least this century) for red zone ineptitude. Our current RZTD% is 21.4%. The next worst for a full season is the '12 Chiefs at 27% pic.twitter.com/uvKpAWHjHx— Joe Mahoney (@ndjomo76) October 7, 2022
No team since 2012 has finished under 30% in RX TD%. The only thing keeping us in games is the fact that our defense has been in good in the RZ as our offense has been bad. The good news is that this has to improve.
The Giants had the worst RZTD% last season at 44.7% (17/38). Only the Texans had fewer RZ trips last season (37). On our current pace we will have 48 RZ trips by the end of the regular season. In order to get above 35% by the end of the season the Broncos would need to score TDs on 14 of our next 34 RZ trips. That would mean improving from 21.4% to 41.2%, which is still worse than the worst RZ scoring offense in 2021.
Overall we are 29th in score percentage at 29.0% (percentage of drives that result in a score). The commanders are the worst at 22.2% and the Chiefs and Raiders are tied for best at 50%.
The rushing offense in currently 19th in yards per carry average at 4.3. We have been good at short yardage runs unless they are in the RZ. We’ve run the ball on 17 times when we needed 1-3 yards to convert and have converted on 11 of those. However in the RZ, we have 16 carries for 26 yards and 3 conversions (first down or touchdown). Our RZ passing has been even worse. Right now Russell Wilson has a passer rating of 50.3 in the RZ.
Russ’ current RZ passer rating of 50.3 is worse than the worst of the 187 NFL QBs with a minimum of 50 RZ passes since 1994. That would be Quincy Carter, who had a career RZ passer rating of 52.2. The only other recent QB with a RZ passer rating (min 50 throws) less than 60 for his career is Brady Quinn at 59.1. Russ career RZ passer rating is 94.4. The guy with the current best career RZ PR is Lamar Jackson at 104.3. Jackson has 68 RZ TD passes and only 3 RZ INTs.
The Broncos are averaging a vomit-inducing 2.3 yards per passing attempt in the RZ. This is another historically bad pace so far. But let’s not get too carried away before we have some context. Great QBs average somewhere in the 3-4 yards per attempt in the RZ. For Example Tom Brady is at 4.0 for his career. Brew Brees and Peyton Manning both retired with 4.1. So who are some QBs have have been in that range for their careers? Well of the 187 QBs with 50 or more RZ passing attempts since 1994, there are only four who have career numbers close to 2.3: Daniel Jones (2.6), Craig Whelihan (2.4), Mark Rypien (2.2) and Brady Quinn (1.8). For his career Russell Wilson averages 4.0 yards per attempt in the RZ, so I expect this to improve during the rest of the season.
The silver lining to this level of RZ ineptitude from the Broncos is that is would be hard to maintain with the level of talent we have on offense. It’s hard to be that bad. You have to figure that the offense will catch a few breaks in the RZ soon and that Russ will start playing much closer to his career numbers in the RZ.
In terms of passing offense were currently 23rd in passer rating. That is the neighborhood where the Broncos have lived since 2015, but I didn’t expect to still be living there with our 245 million dollar QB throwing the ball. One reason for this is that we are allowing the third highest pressure rate in the league at 28.1%. Only the Bears (29.1%) and the Giants (29.9%) have been worse. The Bucs again lead the league in protecting their QB allowing pressure on only 10.3% of dropbacks.
In terms of 3rd down conversion rate the Broncos are currently 30th at 30.6%. We need an average of 8.42 yards for the first down on 3rd down so far this season. Only the Commanders have been worse at 8.5. The Chargers are currently the best in the league at 5.5.
The Bronco offense is about average having converted on three of six fourth down tries. The Lions last weekend went 0 for 6 on fourth down attempts. That was the first time since 1994 that a team has been 0 for 6. The most 4th down attempts in a game was seven (since 1994). Four teams have done that including the 2018 Broncos in a loss to the 49ers. The Chargers did it in the final regular season game last season in their OT loss to the Faiders.
The Bronco offense has been OK at holding onto the ball. Six turnovers in five games is not too bad. The Saints have more than twice that at 13 while the Eagles and the Cowboys have only turned the ball over twice in five games. Interceptions have been happening at a relatively high rate, but that is not uncommon for the first handful of games in the season when defenses tend to have the upper hand. There have been 220 TD passes so far and 126 interceptions. That is a ratio of 1.75:1.00. We finished last season at 1.91:1.00 which was down from a high of 2.21:1.00 in 2020.