By Julie Dixon // @ABroncoNole
Los Angeles Chargers 21 – Denver Broncos 0
24, 42, 16, 16, 10 and 0. That’s the combination to a locker full of questions.
It’s dreary outside and I’m sure it’s pretty dreary inside Dove Valley’s front office. After John Elway saw the writing on the wall last season, he burned down the offensive coaching staff.
He brought in a new Head Coach, offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. He also hired a special teams and tight end coaches. They brought with them a new scheme that was to be juicy and aggressive and score a lot of points. They brought in a lot of beef to man the offensive line. It was to be a team run from shotgun. We heard that all off season. Shotgun means passing. Hence Rivers being under Center a whole lot more in recent weeks to help their run game.
I don’t want to hear this running team nonsense! That was never uttered until we put up 16 points against the Raiders. The run game was supposed to help the pass game, not be the only game. For two weeks, Denver fans were estatic and felt 42 points was to be the standard for the whole year. Not a word was mentioned about the Broncos being a run first team.
The Broncos got 42 points because Dallas had one starting defensive back and even he went out hurt before the game was over. Add to that, Dallas didn’t have pass rushers or a defensive line to stop the run and you have the perfect team to score against.
It takes defensive coordinators 3-5 weeks of a new season to get a read on offenses. It took defensive coordinators two weeks to figure the Broncos out. They most likely watched the Patriots* game last season to scheme what needed to be done.
Mike McCoy had been an offensive coordinator or head coach for eight years before this season. He worked with quarterbacks Kyle Orton, Tim Tebow, Peyton Manning and Phillip Rivers. In that time, he had one shutout and that was in 2014 with the Los Angeles Chargers. In his four years there, he had 5 games where the team scored less than 14 points. Three of them were in 2014 against Denver and Kansas City. He had four with Denver. The good or bad news is, the teams he’s struggled most against were in the AFC West.
Based on that, one could hope after the Kansas City game it could be smooth sailing. Except, if you can’t win in your own division, it’s tough for it to matter elsewhere.
The offensive line. Peyton Manning had far worse for three of his four years. He overcame them because he was the fastest at getting rid of the football, his pocket awareness was phenomenal, he usually knew where the rush was coming from and could send plays away from the pressure. He covered up a lot of garbage.
He had a different line every season and often rotating guys all season. Somehow he managed to throw a lot of yards and TDs and most importantly, he got the run game going. Even in his last season when he was hobbled by age and injury and teams would load the box, he at least knew where to send the RB.
Defensive ends Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram were able to be so productive because they faced two raw tackles and a QB who just doesn’t step up in the pocket to help. The more quarterback Trevor Siemian stayed back, the more it emboldened the rushers and the harder it became on the takcles. The more he was pressured and hit, the more he’d drop back and now you have a vicious cycle.
Making matters worse was Siemian kept his passes short. You’re not going to get defenders to back up and help the run game if you keep passing inside the ten. That’s just common football knowledge. When a defense spreads out along the ten yard marker, they’re essentially laughing at you.
Siemian was holding the ball too long. A right tackle won’t fix that. The other part of that equation is timing. Holding on to the ball ruins the timing with the receivers which in turn prohibits Siemian from hitting them in stride and getting yards after the catch. It’s now on them to act like tight ends and muscle their way forward. Easier for wide receiver Demaryius Thomas, not so much for little wide reciever Emmanuel Sanders.
Siemian had two passes hit a guy in stride. One was on a short crossing pattern, but in front of a line backer for a yard and the second was to tight end AJ Derby who fumbled right after. If your receivers always have to adjust to a ball or turn around or wait on it, they’re getting hit right away. YAC (yards after catch) become nil. Those explosive plays are needed.
That game saw an interception, three fumbles, a dropped pick six, two other dropped interceptions. 9 sacks. Having the left guard play right tackle sure didn’t help and was the reason for 1/2 of the dismal day.
Head coach Vance Joesph absolved Trevor of blame. He put it on the offensive line and run game. Fair enough. Know how to help your offensive line and run game? STEP UP in the pocket so the tackles don’t have to work so hard. Get rid of the ball quickly even if it’s in the dirt. Lastly, make attempts deep. If a defense can leave two or even one safety high and bring everyone else inside ten yards, how are you going to run the ball? Stop edge rushers from snacking?
This isn’t some secret combination. This is Football 101. 16, 16, 10 and 0 isn’t on the right tackle being hurt. Either your offensive coordinator stinks or your quarterback does. Someone isn’t doing their job. Either McCoy isn’t drawing up any plays to throw it deep often enough or they’re there but you’re “Checkdown Charlie”.
Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz threw beyond 10 yards, 52% of the time against the Redskins. We had two other AFC West games. Derek Carr threw 36%. Alex Smith, the previous King of the Checkdown Charlies, threw 30.55%, but had 3 go for TDs. Trevor was at 20% and had an interception.
He’s thrown the ball 85 times in two weeks. 8 completions over ten yards. 2 interceptions and one TD (in garbage time vs the Giants). Know what that is the combination to? Losing.
The poor defense meanwhile has been amazing. They’re only allowing a total of 258.5 yards a game. 186.66 passing yards allowed, 71.8 rushing yards per game.
They held Rivers to 1 TD until the 4th quarter when he got the ball from an interception. You just can’t expect the defense to play both sides of the ball.
The questions: are they sticking with Trevor Siemian because they think he’ll snap out of it against the Chiefs, Eagles and Patriots? Are they waiting on quarterback Paxton Lynch to heal enough to be at practice for a couple weeks before swapping? Do they not want back-up quarterback Brock Osweiler so much they’d rather stick with Trevor? Or, do McCoy and Joseph believe he’s the Bronco’s quarterback for the future and so they’re riding with him and hoping he stops regressing?
16, 16, 10 and 0. The good news is, there’s not a score less than 0, so the offense can’t get any worse. Maybe in the land where Florida State University’s Stolen War Chant resides, Denver can ride in like FSU’s Osceola on Renegade, and the flaming spear will light a fire to these Broncos. Super Bowl 50 was a miracle, maybe we get another.
Talk Broncos with Julie on Twitter // @ABroncoNole