The Denver Broncos offense is broken.
Through five games, Russell Wilson, Nathaniel Hackett and Co. are averaging 15 points per game. This after lighting up the scoreboard for 9 points in Thursday’s 12-9 loss to the Indianapolis Colts.
The Broncos struggle on first down.
They struggle on second down.
Denver is somehow even worse on third down.
When the Broncos do put a drive together, a stupid penalty stalls the offense. The receivers drop a ball. Denver’s offensive line can’t block the wind, leading to pressure on Wilson or a running back tackled for a loss. Wilson misses a target or throws a pick (especially on Thursday).
Denver sucks on third down and is even worse in the red zone.
Notice how I haven’t mentioned the playcalling yet?
In other words, it’s a comedy of errors. And anyone watching the Broncos offense is thinking to themselves, “Well, how are they going to screw this up?”
“I think we had a lot of opportunities,” Hackett told the media after the game. “Again, those things continually show up and we’re not capitalizing on it. Whether it is a drop, a missed throw, just too many things that aren’t coming together. For us, the offense is going through some adversity, and I believe that they’ll get through this and they’re going to learn from it and we’re going to grow from it. We have to.”
The best thing for this offense to do is to stop shooting itself in the foot. But after five games, Denver has already shot one foot off and moved onto the other one.
As Hackett said to the media on Friday:
“It starts with efficiency on first and second down. All those third downs, when you look at them, they’re very, very long. I mean, we’re talking seven-plus (yards) for all of them and a lot of them in 10-plus and 11-plus. We have to do better on those first downs. We’re playing behind the chains, and I feel like a broken record. We’ve been saying that for the first five games, whether it be a penalty, whether it be a drop, a mis execution or things like that and it starts with me.
“I have to do better coaching the guys, I have to do a better job of making sure the guys know where to be, when to be there and ‘Russ’ to be able to see it and be able to execute it. It’s across the board, whether it’s a run play or a pass play, because if you’re playing behind the chains as much as we are, it’s going to be hard to move the ball. I think that’s where it starts on that third down. We’re putting ourselves in bad positions there.”
At some point, Hackett and the Broncos must back these words up before a change has to be made.
Up next is another prime-time affair against the Los Angeles Chargers on Monday Night Football. If the last three prime-time games are any indication, the country will need to stock up on eye cleansers.
But if Hackett and Denver get embarrassed again, George Paton will have to make a difficult decision.
It’s great the locker room is sticking together. Until it leads to success on the field, that doesn’t mean jack squat. All that matters in the NFL is winning, and this season is fast getting away from Denver.
For the Broncos, it starts and stops with the offense.
The time for talk is over. Make it happen.
“It starts with me,” Wilson said. “It’s not on Hackett. It’s not on anybody else. He’s called some really good plays — we have to make the plays. I have to be able to hit (throws). We have to be able to get that first down — whatever it is. It’s disappointing tonight, obviously.
“We felt like we should have won that game. I felt like I let us down tonight. In this locker room, we believe in what we can do. There’s a lot of season left, there’s a lot of opportunity left, (and) there’s a lot of belief. (With) how great the defense is doing, if we can to turn it around on offense — how quickly we can turn it around on offense. That’s the key. We just have to keep battling and keep believing.”