I was driving from South Carolina to Tennessee on Sunday during the game, so I was spared from having to watch the most recent display of offensive Denver Broncos offense.
Russell Wilson was sacked three times, hit nine times and pressured on seemingly every drop-back (from what I’ve been told). Because of our combination of injuries on offense, poor blocking, predictable play-calling and skill erosion from seemingly every skill-position player, Russ is on pace to have his worst career year by a very large margin. With a broken finger on his throwing hand last season he was able to throw for 25 touchdowns with only 6 interceptions while completing 64.8% of his throws.
In 10 games this season, Russ has completed 58.9% of his throws for 8 TDs and 5 INTs. Those are numbers I would have expected from Drew Lock as they are pretty close to Lock’s career numbers. Lock has played in 24 games, thrown 25 TDs, 20 INTs and completed 59.3 percent of his passes. The Denver Broncos have succeeded in turning Russell Wilson into Drew Lock (almost).
Wilson’s 4.1 yards per passing attempt on Sunday was the 10th worst by a Bronco QB this century (min 15 throws) and the worst since Brandon Allen’s 3.3 against the Bills in 2019.
I find it hard to believe that Russ’ skills have deteriorated so quickly at the age of 34 (today is his birthday). Happy Birthday, Russ! Most recent elite QBs have still been playing at a very high level at the age of 34.
At this point our OL is allowing Russ to be pressured on 30.3% of his passing attempts which is the highest pressure rate he has faced since 2018 when the Seahawk OL allowed him to be pressured on 32.3% of his dropbacks. Playing games with your backups starting at LT, C and RT generally leads to poor results, particularly when we have an organization that does not believe in drafting offensive tackles.
The two offensive tackles signed by the Broncos this off-season, Billy Turner and Tom Compton, have combined to play 212 offensive snaps.
The Bronco offense on Sunday played some of the worst football it has played so far this season generating a season-low 246 yards. This was the 37th time this century that the Bronco offense has been held to 250 or fewer yards, but it wasn’t even the worst yardage output by a Bronco team in the past 12 months. The Broncos only got 158 total yards in the 13-17 loss to the Raiders in December of 2021. Of course we only got 112 in the Covid game where Kendall Hinton was our QB - that one is somewhat understandable, but the 134 yards of total offense in the 2019 loss to Buffalo is not.
The Bronco offense is now down to 14.3 ppg. That makes them the 11th worst scoring offense through 11 games since 2010 and the 28th worst this century through 11 games.
Thru 11 games the 2022 Broncos have the 11th worst scoring offense 2010-now. The Broncos are the only team in the "top" 20 that had a great defense though. (If you expand it to this century, they are the 28th worst.) pic.twitter.com/IgR1Uh1N0d— Joe Mahoney (@ndjomo76) November 28, 2022
The one bright spot on Sunday was the 52-yard run by Latavius Murray which was the first run of 20 or more yards by a Bronco this season. Speaking of rushing, the Panthers committed heavily to the run game on Sunday and the Broncos were mostly unable to stop it.
The Panthers used six offensive linemen on 29 of 66 offensive snaps (although the game-book only shows 22). The used Cameron Erving (6-5, 315) and Cade Mays (6-6, 325) as tight ends for a large portion of the game (their starting lineup shows six offensive linemen). On the 22 plays where Erving or Mays reported as eligible, they ran the ball 20 times for an average of 4.0 yards per carry. As you would expect both passes with six OL on the field were play-action and both were effective - a 15 yard completion to Ian Thomas to open the game and the 52-yard bomb to D.J. Moore.
Overall the Panthers ran the ball 45 times for 186 yards (removing the kneeldown) and completely dominated the time of possession. Given their offensive struggles (and ours) and the fact that their QB was coming back from an injury, this was a masterful stroke of coaching. Our defensive coaches had little that they could do to stop it. Only four of those 20 runs with 6 OL on the field ended as “wins” for the defense (gains of 1, 0 or negative yards) since one of the 1 yard runs with the TD run by Sam Darnold.
According to the gamebook, the Panthers ran 22 plays with 6 offensive lineman yesterday. 20 runs and 2 passes. Both passes were successful (15 and 52 yards gained), but the Bronco D only "won" on 4 of the 20 runs when they ostensibly knew it was going to be a run. Chronology - pic.twitter.com/F8UHFvF3tV— Joe Mahoney (@ndjomo76) November 28, 2022
I don’t know if putting in six offensive linemen and handing the ball a bunch of times to our 240 lb RB like the Panthers did is recipe for success for the Broncos, but when your offense is failing as badly as ours has this season, you might as well try it. So far this season the Broncos have only used 6 OL on three plays all of which were goal-line runs. Two of those plays resulted in touchdowns.
The Bronco offensive coaches decided to give Montrell Washington some more offensive touches, but he is used so little on offense that his presence in the game is almost a dead giveaway that he is going to get the ball. Trell has not been in on more than 14 snaps on offense this season and that was in the third game of the year against the 49ers. He needs to be in the game more often to use his speed as a decoy and he needs to be not be the focus of the play when he is in the game. Otherwise he needs to be not used on offense. So far he hasn’t been able to generate chunk plays on offense with the exception of his 19-yard end around in the second game of the year. Since that play he has 7 touches for 14 total yards on offense. Nine of those came on one run. His other six touches have netted five yards.
Other notable things about our offensive snaps this game:
- Brandon Johnson looked decent in his career high 42 offensive snaps. He had two catches for 10 yards on four targets and our lone TD.
- Alex Beck was active and healthy this game. He played a total of four offensive snaps while getting 16 ST snaps.
- Marlon Mack got his first action for the Broncos seeing 6 offensive snaps.
- The Erics were not used very much this game with Saubert only getting 12 snaps and Tomlinson only 9.
|Patrick Surtain II||CB||66||100%|
Our usual five ironmen again played every defensive snap. Because of the 6OL strategy from Carolina, Dre’Mont Jones hardly left he field (playing 89% of the defensive snaps, which was the second highest value on his career - only topped by the first game of the season against SEA).
Another move to combat the 6OL strategy was using four defensive linemen. Mike Purcell, DJ Jones, DeShawn Williams, Eyiome Uwazurike and Matt Henningsen played 39, 38, 37, 25 and 19 snaps. Meaning that our DL players combined to logged 217 snaps. When you consider that we usually only use 2 DL guys on obvious passing downs (occasionally only one), this is significant. The Panthers ran 66 offensive plays. 3 x 66 = 198. That means that for a minimum of 19 plays we had four big bodies on the field on defense, meaning that we shifted our approach to a 4-3 or 5-2 to combat the 6OL strategy - albeit not very effectively.
PJ Locke also played nine snaps in heavy nickel to combat the run.
The Denver Bronco pass rush has been fairly anemic over the last 4 games after being one of the best in the league over the first 7 games pic.twitter.com/3v1w1NYcQ6— Joe Mahoney (@ndjomo76) November 28, 2022
The pass rushers were again largely ineffective like they have been for the last four games. This was the first game of the season were the Bronco D failed to log a sack, but the defense has not been able to get much pressure since Baron Browning’s injury.