Good morning, Broncos Country!
I turned on NFL Radio on SiriusXM yesterday morning and the conversation was about the Broncos-Panthers game.
So to torture me and my two boys on our way to school, we listened to the hosts do their best to figure out “what in the world is wrong with the Broncos” and its offense led by a guy who was prior to this season considered a definite Hall of Fame QB one day (still likely but too many more seasons like this and there’s no way!)
Rather than nitpick various plays or drives that broke down in Sunday’s loss to the Panthers the hosts were content on ranting that Denver’s offense just made no sense.
And they were not wrong.
In fact, they couldn’t identify what the offense was trying to do. In any way.
Did it want to establish the run? Was it trying to attack a particular part of the defense? Was it trying to work around a particular strength or hide a particular weakness?
NONE of those questions could be answered because as they watched the Broncos, no play seemed to make sense with the other.
“I have no idea what their identity is,” the host said. “There’s no continuity from one play to the next.”
For fun (and still torture) I decided to look over the stats sheet to see each play in the Broncos’ six first-half drives - drives that yielded a whopping 9-for-13, 53-yards passing and just THREE points combined. SMH.
Let’s see if we can figure out the Broncos’ offensive identity:
1-10-DEN 5 (12:40) R.Wilson pass short right to M.Washington to DEN 2 for -3 yards
2-13-DEN 2 (12:01) L.Murray right guard to DEN 4 for 2 yards.
3-11-DEN 4 (11:23) (Shotgun) R.Wilson pass incomplete short right to B.Johnson.
On first down, starting from Broncos’ own 5-yard line, Wilson threw behind the line of scrimmage (because those always work!) and surprise, surprise, lost three yards on the play.
With 13 yards to gain, Broncos try a run play (by itself not a terrible idea when you’re backed up to your own end zone and need to get some space).
But then on the predictable 3rd-and-long, Wilson throws a “short of the sticks” pass to a rookie appearing in just his second NFL game after being on IR for two months since training camp.
1-10-DEN 12 (9:33) L.Murray up the middle to DEN 15 for 3 yards
2-7-DEN 15 (9:04) R.Wilson pass short left to K.Hinton to DEN 19 for 4 yards.
3-3-DEN 19 (8:19) (Shotgun) R.Wilson pass short right to K.Hinton to DEN 21 for 2 yards
A manageable 3rd-and-3 and Broncos call a pass that goes two yards.
1-10-DEN 43 (15:00) L.Murray left tackle to DEN 44 for 1 yard.
2-9-DEN 44 (14:21) (Shotgun) R.Wilson sacked at DEN 33 for -11 yards.
3-20-DEN 33 (13:36) (Shotgun) L.Murray up the middle to DEN 38 for 5 yards.
I was so ready to turn off the game after this drive.
A run on 1st-and-10 followed by a sack because Wilson took too long to throw the ball followed by ... a RUN on 3rd-and-20...from shotgun????
I mean, if you’re not even going to try to move the ball, just get on the bus and go home.
That's what I always love to see...run play called on 3rd-and-20.— Doctor of Words (and tights) (@docllv) November 27, 2022
1-10-DEN 25 (4:42) L.Murray up the middle ran ob at CAR 23 for 52 yards.
1-10-CAR 23 (4:07) (Shotgun) R.Wilson pass incomplete short right to M.Washington
2-10-CAR 23 (Shotgun) R.Wilson sacked at CAR 31 for -8 yards (B.Burns). FUMBLES, RECOVERED by CAR-Y.GrossMatos at CAR 2
An absolutely brilliant effort by Latavius Murray squandered by another sack and fumble.
Are we finding our identity yet?
1-10-DEN 15 (1:48) (Shotgun) L.Murray up the middle to DEN 18 for 3 yards.
2-7-DEN 18 (1:42) (Shotgun) R.Wilson pass short left to C.Sutton to DEN 25 for 7 yards.
1-10-DEN 25 (1:23) (No Huddle, Shotgun) R.Wilson scrambles right end pushed ob at DEN 27 for 2 yards.
2-8-DEN 27 (1:15) (Shotgun) R.Wilson pass short left to C.Sutton to DEN 30 for 3 yards.
3-5-DEN 30 (1:09) (Shotgun) R.Wilson pass incomplete deep left to G.Dulcich.
On a 3rd-and-20, we pull out the two-yard run play. So of course on 3rd-and-5 we go deep to our tight end. Greg Dulcich is talented but that’s Courtland Sutton territory.
1-10-DEN 29 (:30) (Shotgun) R.Wilson pass short right to G.Dulcich to DEN 31 for 2 yards
2-8-DEN 31 (:23) (Shotgun) R.Wilson pass incomplete deep left.
3-8-DEN 31 (:17) (Shotgun) R.Wilson pass short left to G.Dulcich to DEN 40 for 9 yards
1-10-DEN 40 (:10) (Shotgun) R.Wilson pass deep right to C.Sutton ran ob at CAR 38 for 22 yards
1-10-CAR 38 (:03) B.McManus 56-yard field goal is No Good, Wide Left, Center-J.Bobenmoyer, Holder-C.Waitman.
Finally a series that doesn’t seem crazy! A short pass on first down could have been longer but a nine-yard pass to Dulcich on 3rd-and-8 is a good call, and a 22-yard pass to Sutton is the right play - especially to just move quickly into field goal range.
So then of course McManus misses from a range he should not miss from, even if not an easy distance.
How many ughs are we up to now?
Obviously without watching film (I leave that to Tim Jenkins) to see where other players were on the field and where protection broke down, etc., this kind of surface analysis doesn’t do the offense complete justice.
But it does hint at a complete lack of awareness by the staff and QB of the offense’s own strengths and weaknesses. The defensive playbook against the Broncos is a no-brainer - dare Wilson to throw and it’s likely either a sack, an incomplete or a pass short of the sticks; dare the Broncos to run and it’s at best a two or three-yard gain.
No one is scared of this offense, but this offense seems scared of itself.
I guess there’s the identity.
“We need to continue to look at ourselves individually,” Hackett said Monday. “It starts with me, the coaches, the players to see how we can improve. It’s not just one guy; it’s everybody. Everybody’s got to get better. Everybody’s got to play better. We’re obviously not happy with what the outcome was yesterday. We can play better, and we’re a better football team than that. We’ve got to continually get better across the board.”
And while most of this chaos and failure falls on the head coach’s shoulders (the guy can’t even get his story straight about the “exchange” between Mike Purcell and Russell Wilson on Sunday), the quarterback shares much of the blame.
He is supposed to be elite, and an elite QB can overcome an inept coach some of the time (if not most of the time), by willing his offense down the field to a score.
Wilson seems incapable of either.
Thing is, blaming the coach can only go so far. At some point, you're a star QB, you have to make some throws regardless of the scheme.— Frank Schwab (@YahooSchwab) November 28, 2022
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