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Why the Broncos offense on Sunday was no better than it has been all year

It’s great the Denver Broncos beat the Jacksonville Jaguars, but nothing much changed offensively and that should worry us.

NFL: International Series-Denver Broncos at Jacksonville Jaguars Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

Let me start that I’m very happy that the Denver Broncos pulled out a win over the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday. The way they rallied late was impressive and should give us hope a turnaround is in progress. However, there are some red flags about this game that we shouldn’t gloss over. Those red flags show that this team still has a lot to prove before we can trust things are turning a corner for them.

Against the Jaguars, the Broncos offense had three scoring drives of 75, 98 and 80 yards. They converted touchdowns on every single one of those drives, which was the difference in this game. They also had six three-and-outs. If you take away the first down to ice the game, they had just three total first downs the whole game outside of those three scoring drives.

The week before against the New York Jets, the Broncos offense was actually more efficient overall. They had just two three-and-outs, but they did have five drives that lasted four plays or less so you could argue that’s basically the same thing. They also put together scoring drives of 75 and 73 yards, along with another that resulted in a missed field goal.

These two games, one a win and one a loss, was a mixed back statistically. Here’s a couple of things that stood out and should give us pause on any declaration of problems solved:

  • 21 first downs vs. Jets to 18 vs. Jags
  • 5/16 on third downs vs. Jets to 2/11 vs. Jags
  • 3.8 yards per carry vs. Jets to 3.6 vs. Jags
  • 331 total yards of offense vs. Jags to 345 vs. Jets

Just insert Spiderman pointing at each other GIF. It’s the same offense, basically.

I cherry-picked the stats that highlighted the losing team was more efficient in. The Broncos on Sunday were better in a key area that really made all of the difference. The red zone.

They made three trips into the red zone and punched it in every single time. That’s 100% TD efficiency in the red zone improved their league-worst red zone percentage from 23.53% on the year to a still league-worst 35.00%. They still have a ways to go to catch the Seattle Seahawks who is 31st in this area at 40.00%. Just for comparisons sake, the best teams in the league are all above 70% TD efficiency in the red zone.

That work in the red zone by the Broncos should be the main focal point for anyone arguing that this team has turned things around. If they can score touchdowns on drives when they get into the red zone, then that will give them time to continue working out how to effectively sustain drives and avoid those three-and-outs.

Tim Jenkins from All Things QB broke things down well here too. He focused heavily on the good things Denver finally did. It was Russell Wilson’s best game despite of everything I pointed out above. It’s something they can build off of and that’s the most important takeaway, but they are not out of the woods just yet.

Don’t get me wrong on this. I am hyped that the Broncos won this game, but I feel like too many people are going to sugarcoat things. The issues that have frustrated us all season long are still there, so don’t let those three good drives blind you to those facts. They still have work to do and the bye week is the perfect time to build on this success.