What we learned in the first seven games of the season – The Denver Post


Coaches, regardless of their level or sport, sell the glass half full.

But there was no doubt the behavior of Broncos coach Vic Fangio as he stood on the podium on Friday afternoon, less than 24 hours after Cleveland handed his team a fourth straight loss, a 17-14 horror that was much more one-sided than the rating suggested.

Fangio was neutral and humiliated when answering questions. He knows the deal. Seven games in its third year, the Broncos are still spinning their wheels. They’re less than 0.500 – again. They are fighting to end a long losing streak – again. And they struggle to score – again. Making the situation more worrying is the area of ​​expertise of Fangio (defense) collapsed.

The Broncos are 3-4 and here are four things we learned:

1. Their defense is broken.

Prior to the season, I predicted the Broncos would finish 7-10, but would be fourth in defensive scorers and have 25 takeaways and 51 sacks. The justification: the defense would be an elite and would be abandoned by a laborious attack.

Whoops. The Broncos are second at 18.1 points per game, but in the last four games they have allowed 25.3. They don’t get take out (one in the last four games) and only have 15 bags in total.

I allow the losses of inside linebackers Josey Jewell and Alexander Johnson for the season and outside linebacker Bradley Chubb indefinitely. But high school remained largely healthy and didn’t impress. Ditto for the defensive line.

During the 0-4 streak, the Broncos allowed eight practices of at least 10 games and 12 of at least 75 yards.

I asked Fangio what his options were to get the defense out of the rut.

“There are three things you can do,” he says. “One – the line-up changes. Two – simplify. Or three – when you have a bunch of guys falling over, recreate. Successful “recreations” are usually short-lived. We just have to do (what) we do better.

2. They are not making enough big plays offensively.

Down 17-7 Thursday night, the Broncos started at their 20-yard line with 11:25 to go. It took them 17 games to finally reach the end zone. Their longest gain was 10 meters. They needed to convert three sets of third and a fourth.

The more a team is forced to play, the more likely they are to make a mistake.

“We had some downtime again,” said quarterback Teddy Bridgewater. “You have a sense of urgency, but at the same time, the important thing is to score. That’s what we did. If we had lost more points, we probably would have (played) more tempo (raised) to try to go down faster. ”

The catch is, the Broncos’ defense isn’t stopping anyone these days and Cleveland missed the 5:12 final.

Against the Browns, the Broncos had an explosive game at the lowest of the season (passing 16 or more yards / rushing 12 or more) – the 31-yard one-handed grip of Courtland Sutton.

For the season, the Broncos have 39 explosive games (29 assists / 11 rushes).

3. The four-way pass race does not work.

The plan at the start of the season was for Chubb and Von Miller to win over the edges and for the inside linemen to create a push. The four-man rush would see Fangio drop seven in cover to play the away man with his cornerbacks and have his inside linebackers cut out shallow crossing roads.

But not only do the Broncos average a shadow over two sacks per game (15 of seven), Fangio needs to call for more pressure. Six of the 15 sacks occurred during the rush of five or more players.

In seven games, the Broncos rush at least five players to 34.6% of opponent’s drop-backs, up from 22.9% in 2019 and 27.9% last year according to the Denver game chart. Post. Rushing over players leaves the grass open to the bottom.

“We have to do a better job against the race to get more passing opportunities,” said Fangio. “(Cleveland) had six thirds and 1s (and converted them all). These are not ideal rush situations. When you fight the run it has an avalanche effect on everything and the pass rush is one of them. ”

4. The offense is particularly bad in the first half.

Hate to change things for the sake of change? Coaches should consider this route to start their slow starts.

The Broncos have 36 first-half practices this year and have six touchdowns and five field goals, a score rate of 30.6%. During their four-game slippage, they scored just 20 points in the first half. As we know, this offense is not designed to chase the scoreboard.

Take on football by winning the coin toss. Add some tempo to keep the opponent in the same defensive staff. Give running back Javonte Williams the first set. Heck, maybe a flea flicker.

One way to trigger the Broncos’ defense could give them an early lead.

The Broncos will be favored in home games against Washington (week 8) and Philadelphia (week 10) and an underdog in Dallas (week 9). Mind their business and they’ll come in goodbye at 5-5. But the climb already seems too steep.

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