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The Broncos are a mess, but a fixable mess

The season has been a migraine-inducing one thus far, but the issues plaguing the team are correctable

NFL: Houston Texans at Denver Broncos Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Good Morning Broncos Country!

Things have been better for the Denver Broncos.

Through the first two games of the regular season, the 2022 squad has managed to make the Broncos team gifted to Homer Simpson by Hank Scorpio back in 1996 look like a Super Bowl contender.

In fact, first year head coach Nathaniel Hackett appears to have gone to the Homer Simpson school of game management as evidenced by his head-scratching, unorganized methods from the sideline.

What was supposed to be a return to a fun brand of competitive football has instead rendered the same face palming, aggravating, drink-for-necessity-and-not-for-fun style of play Broncos Country was more than ready to put in the rearview mirror.

Yet, despite the total lack of anything that could be described as a respectable all-around football performance the past two games, something is different about this Broncos team from the ones in recent years’ past.

The teams led by the likes of Drew Lock, Teddy Bridgewater, Trevor Siemian, Joe Flacco, and Case Keenum couldn’t get the job done because they just didn’t have the ability on the offensive side of a ball.

If a team is going to field an offense without a legitimate franchise QB or even an average game manager type, it better have some next level skill players and offensive linemen to do the lion’s share of the work. The teams between the 2015 and this season did not have that, and it showed on the field.

This team’s issue is not lack of ability on offense. No, it has that in spades, as evidenced by the team’s #7 ranking in total offense through two weeks.

QB Russell Wilson is not the problem, either, for while he hasn’t been perfect, he was impressive in week 1 and rebounded nicely after a rough start in week 2. He is second in the league in red zone passing attempts and first in attempts inside both the 5- and 10-yard line. The issue is that none of those attempts resulted in six points.

Six tries the Broncos offense has had in the red zone only to come up short, usually by their own hand, but if these offensive drives are sustainable, logically the team will find a way to execute.

Nay, the problem, rather than ability, is simple discipline. And for a group of professionals, including a future Hall-of-Fame QB, who have made it this far playing the sport, it is an issue that is more than correctable.

See, while the Broncos offensive totals stand out two weeks into the season, leading the league in other areas is what’s keeping the team from capitalizing on those efforts.

Denver, as things currently sit, leads the NFL in total penalties at 25 for 206 yards. The next closest is 18 by the Philadelphia Eagles. They also league the league in delay of game penalties with 4 and offensive false starts with 6.

Getting a play in on time, having the offense ready at the snap, and knowing when to leave the line of scrimmage are things middle school teams can execute with efficiency. The fact an NFL team has had so much trouble in this area is embarrassing but not something beyond fixing.

It starts, though, with the man in charge, Nathaniel Hackett.

To his credit, he’s taken accountability by admitting in hindsight he should not have opted to kick a 64-yard field goal in week one and even accepted the boos thrown at his team in week two.

But he has to have his team better prepared.

There are certain sunk costs that can no longer be salvaged, of course.

Choosing not to play nearly any of the first-team offense together during the preseason has turned out to be a disaster, as the unit has looked as cohesive as a frantically assembled 40-and-over men’s basketball league at a YMCA.

Injuries are a part of the game, so there’s nothing anything anyone can do to accelerate the recovery process for the recently banged up players of need like Pat Surtain II, Randy Gregory, Jerry Jeudy, and Quinn Meinerz.

What can be improved upon is simple game management on the offensive side of the football.

Ejiro Evero has made tremendous adjustments in his first two games, and the defense has shown that once again, they are a unit who will give their team opportunities to win games.

To cash in on the luxury of having a top-3 defensive unit, though (at least through two weeks), the offense has to do its part, and that all starts and ends with Hackett.

Critics can point out, too, that the opponent sample size of the Seattle Seahawks and Houston Texans, two teams hardly considered legitimate postseason threats, that the offensive and defensive statistics may not be what they seem, and that will be known further weeks down the road.

Yet, a unit featuring Russell Wilson, Javonte Williams, Melvin Gordon, Courtland Sutton, and Jerry Jeudy (hopefully) is one that contains offensive firepower unlike any Broncos team since Peyton Manning was taking the snaps. They have the chops to deliver points.

In the end, it all comes down to Hackett and whether or not he has what it takes to make the necessary game management changes to prove himself worthy of his position.

He has looked in over his head the first two games, perhaps due to his new balance of calling plays combined with his other head coaching duties, which, for a rookie head coach, is not exactly unheard of.

This team, though, has to get itself under control, and it starts with eliminating boneheaded penalties and simple execution at the line of scrimmage. These are things that should be second nature to an NFL head coach, and if Hackett can shake off the unpleasantness of weeks 1 and 2 and right the ship, all will be well.

If these issues continue to arise, though, the whispers concerning whether general manager George Paton made the right hire will only grow exponentially louder.

Broncos/NFL News

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