ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — While fault can be pointed to many areas, and people, when a team fails to make the postseason for five consecutive seasons, a feeble offense is a good place to start when listing the Broncos’ woes.
In none of the past five seasons have the Broncos averaged as many as 21 points a game. In an offensive-tilted era, how is this possible? Not since 2014, the year before their Super Bowl 50 triumph, have the Broncos ranked better than 19th in scoring in the 32-team NFL.
Then general manager John Elway and his then top assistant Matt Russell addressed the Broncos’ offense a year ago by adding running back Melvin Gordon and guard Graham Glasgow through free agency while drafting receivers Jerry Jeudy and KJ Hamler in rounds one and two, center Lloyd Cushenberry III in round three and tight end Albert Okwuegbunam in round four.
The Broncos still ranked No. 28 in scoring with a measly 20.2 points per game -- 4.6 less than the league average of 24.8. Five teams averaged at least 30 points a game last season and 10 teams scored better than 27 points, or a touchdown a game more than the Broncos.
Which leads us to wonder in our 9News series of 9 questions the Broncos must address as players report to training camp on July 27:
8. Can the Broncos score an average of 25 points a game?
Issue: The offense hasn’t come close to being average the past five seasons. Here’s how they Broncos’ scoring has stacked up against the rest of the league:
Yr ..….. Rk …. P/G ….. NFL Avg.
2020 … 28 … 20.2 ….. 24.8
2019 … 28 … 17.6 ….. 22.6
2018 … 24 … 20.6 ….. 23.1
2017 … 27 … 18.1 ….. 21.4
2016 … 22 … 20.8 ….. 22.9
2015 … 19 … 22.2 ….. 22.8
2014 ….. 2 … 30.1 ….. 22.1
The ineffectiveness at the quarterback and offensive coordinator positions have received the bulk of the blame for the Broncos’ offensive ineptitude the past five years with offensive line play following closely behind.
The Broncos have started nine quarterbacks the past five years: Drew Lock, Jeff Driskel, Brett Rypien, Joe Flacco, Brandon Allen, Case Keenum, Trevor Siemian, Paxton Lynch and Brock Osweiler.
And there have been five offensive coordinators: Rick Dennison, Mike McCoy, Bill Musgrave, Rich Scangarello and Pat Shurmur.
Continuity might help but standing pat isn’t usually the answer when something needs fixed.
Background: In six of the eight seasons in which they reached the Super Bowl, the Broncos ranked in the top 8 in scoring. The exceptions were their first Super Bowl-appearing season of 1977 (10th) and last in 2015 (19th). Both of those teams had dominant defenses.
Resolution: The easy fix is acquiring quarterback Aaron Rodgers from the Packers. Short of that, a return to form by No. 1 receiver Courtland Sutton, who missed virtually all of last season because of injuries, will help. New GM George Paton added veteran quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, who will be given a chance in training camp to beat out Lock, and rookie running back Javonte Williams.
Otherwise, Denver has to execute much better on third downs and in the red zone. Too often in recent years, the Broncos’ offense would get two first downs, only to stall around midfield. Converting third downs keeps drives alive. Red zone performance is the difference between a field goal and touchdown. And those two areas fall to the quarterback and play calling. A look at how the Broncos have fared in third downs and red zone the past five seasons:
Third down conversion
Yr ….… Rk … Pct
2020 … 25 … 38.7
2019 … 30 … 31.7
2018 … 28 … 33.3
2017 … 15 … 39.0
2016 … 31 … 34.3
Red zone efficiency
Yr …..… Rk … Pct
2020 … 27 … 53.3
2019 … 28 … 47.6
2018 … 18 … 56.8
2017 … 32 … 39.6
2016 … 28 … 46.8
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