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Bronco notes: Wilson says third quarter struggles hurting team

OC Justin Outten supports QB coach Kubiak calling plays.

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — If that half-time hot dog line seems imposingly long, hang in there.

Chances are you won’t miss anything from the Broncos in the third quarter.

Through 10 games this season, the Broncos have not scored a third quarter touchdown on our nation’s soil or artificial surface. The now released Melvin Gordon scored a 1-yard touchdown in the third quarter against Jacksonville with that game played overseas in London.

Otherwise, the Broncos have scored just two other times in the third quarter – a 2-point safety when 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo accidentally stepped behind the end zone in game 3, and a 45-yard field goal by Brandon McManus in a 12-9 overtime loss to the Indianapolis Colts in game 5.

In seven games, the Broncos have failed to score in the 15 minutes after halftime. That’s 12 points total in the third quarter over 10 games.

“Our third quarters have been part of why we are where we are,’’ quarterback Russell Wilson said Wednesday at his weekly press conference. “It’s not even a part of it – it’s a big part of it. I think we’ve had pretty good first halves for the most part, decent. Some better than others, but the third quarters have slowed us down tremendously.

“So that’s something I’m focused on over the next few days and going into this game (at Carolina) and the rest of the games we have this year. And hopefully we can turn it around.”

The third quarter seems to be where Wilson’s pass protection really starts to break down. He has taken 11 sacks in the third quarter, more than any other quarter, although the fourth quarter is close with 10 sacks.

Then there’s the 4th quarter defense

Yes, the Denver defense has been quite good overall, ranking No. 3 in the NFL in total defense (302.1 yards per game allowed) and scoring defense (17.1 points per game). But just when you think the Denver D is going to carry the day, it lets down late in the game.

In fact, the Broncos have allowed either a field goal or touchdown in the final 4:35 of regulation in their last seven consecutive games. In four of those games, they gave up a game-tying or lead-losing score.

“All the stats and stuff are great, but I think I saw Justin (Simmons) said that it’s what you do in those critical moments,’’ said Ejiro Evero, Denver’s defensive coordinator. “We just have to execute better. It’s execution. It’s better clarity from the coaches. It’s better play from the players, it just all has to be better. And like you said you can be as good as you want those first 55 minutes but if we don’t take care of business at the end it’s not going to matter.”

Credit: AP
Las Vegas Raiders wide receiver Keelan Cole (84) against the Denver Broncos of an NFL football game Sunday, November 20, 2022, in Denver. (AP Photo/Bart Young)

Outten gracious about Kubiak promotion

When Nathaniel Hackett decided to surrender offensive play-calling duties so he could concentrate on all things head coach, it was a no-brainer that quarterbacks coach Klint Kubiak took over the responsibilities because he did it previously, to decent success, last season with the Minnesota Vikings.

Still, the perception is offensive coordinator Justin Outten got passed over. But to Outten’s credit, he didn’t see it that way.

“Klint is a proven play caller,’’ Outten said. “In our situation right now you just can’t move forward with a guy in my position that’s not called it in a game. He’s got a great track record with what he did with the Vikings (No. 14 in scoring last year, 25.0 ppg).

“And no coach knows any player better in the building than his position coach. He knows exactly what he (Wilson) wants, what he’s thinking all the time. They’re always collaborating. There’s a lot of discussion throughout the week. He’s got a real strong relationship with Russell."

“My position is supporting Klint any way possible. Giving him ideas throughout the game. We were going back and forth throughout the series of what’s next. And I thought it was a real good collaboration.”

Credit: AP
Denver Broncos quarterback Russell Wilson, left, confers with quarterbacks coach Klint Kubiak during a break in drills at the NFL football team's headquarters Monday, June 6, 2022, in Centennial, Colo. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

Bronco Bits

  • Outside linebacker Jacob Martin suffered a knee injury in the game Sunday against the Raiders and it didn’t start flaring up until afterwards. The Cherokee Trail High School graduate did not practice Wednesday, nor did receivers Jerry Jeudy (ankle) and KJ Hamler (hamstring).
  • Hackett is giving his players, coaches and all personnel staff the day off Thursday for Thanksgiving. To make up for the missed practice, the players practiced on Tuesday, their usual day off.


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