It seems like the Denver Broncos run on every first down (they don’t) and all of the those runs get stuffed IOW gain 1 yard or less (they don’t). So let’s dig into those perceptions.
The Broncos have gotten stuffed on first down runs 18 times in four games. The Jaguars are the worst in the league having been stuffed on non-goal line first down runs 32 times this season already. The Panthers and the Patriots have only been stuffed on 10 of these runs so far this year. Two teams have yet to play this week while I am writing this. The 49ers have been stuffed 21 times in 3 games on first down runs.
In terms of how often the Broncos have run the ball on first down, they are currently at 54% which is 13th in the league. The Falcons lead the league at 69% and the Panthers are last with 39%. The league average right now is 53%. The Broncos have run the ball 58 times on first down and thrown the ball 52 times.
Now let’s take about third down. The Broncos are currently third worst in average yards needed on third down at 7.9; only the Giants at 8.1 and the Commanders at 9.2 are worse. Buffalo right now is averaging only 5.2 yards needed on third down which is best in the league.
One reason for the Broncos need so much yardage on third down on average is the penalties. The Broncos continue to lead the league in total penalties with 42, 37 of which have been accepted. The record for a season is 158 accepted penalties. The Broncos are on pace to hit 157 as of right now. I don’t know if that 158 was in 16 or 17 (or 14) regular season games. Either way it is not a good look for the team or the coaching staff to continue getting 9 penalties per game.
The Broncos also lead the league in offensive holding penalties. We have been called for offensive holding ten times in four games (two have been declined). The Titans have the next most with eight called against them. What’s scary is that offensive holding has not been called that often so far this season relative to 2021. With one game left to be played this week there have been 34 called. That means that 10 of the 132 offensive holding penalties called this year have been against the Broncos. For comparison the Vikings have been called once for offensive holding in four game (and it was declined).
If you are interested, a full log of all 42 penalties called against the Broncos can be found here. Garett Bolles has been called three times, Lloyd Cushenberry twice, and the rest of the Broncos who have been called have only been called once so far. That includes two defensive players, Randy Gregory and Justin Strnad (on punt team).
As you would expect with needing so many yards on average to convert on 3rd down, the Broncos are in the bottom third of the league in 3rd down conversion rate (35.9%). The Seahawks currently lead the league converting on 56.0% of their 3rd downs while the Panthers are only converting on 25.0%.
On the defensive side the Broncos are still sixth in the league in stopping teams on third down. We’re only allowing conversion on 32.1%. Green Bay’s defense currently leads the league allowing conversion on only 22.2% so far (which is sick). The Seahawks defense is dead last allowing conversion on 50.0% of 3rd downs.
Another piece of good news on this dreary day after losing to the hated Las Vegas Raiders, the Broncos defense is tied for the league lead in 3rd down sacks with 6 (tied with three other teams). That means that more than half of the Broncos eleven sacks have come on third down. The Eagles currently lead the league with sixteen sacks. The Cardinals are last with four.