ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Here is what the Denver Broncos have learned about their offense in their first three games:
They have methodically moved the ball against two of the best defenses in the league (Chicago and Green Bay). In their 10 scoring drives over the first three games, touchdown or field goal, seven have gone for at least 10 plays. To put that into perspective, the Broncos didn’t reach seven scoring drives of at least 10 plays until Oct. 18 last season.
And while methodical can be good, it’s not easy, and the 0-3 Broncos need a heavy helping of easy.
“We’re definitely going the long, hard way,” said Broncos quarterback Joe Flacco. “That’s the kind of games we’re in right now. We’re in these hard fights, and if that’s what’s necessary, then I expect us to be able to do it. But obviously, somewhere in there you want to be able to make some big plays and score some touchdowns before you get there.”
The Broncos have had just four plays of at least 30 yards in their first three games, and not because of a lack of opportunity. Denver is one of four teams — Baltimore, Philadelphia and Arizona are the others — to have run at least 205 plays on offense through three games. They rank 10th in the league in first downs but 29th in scoring.
“Whether it’s been penalties, turnovers, missed assignment here or there, it’s something,” Flacco said. ” … I’d just like to see us kind of put it all together … where we can start to be a little more explosive.”
Two of the Broncos’ three turnovers Sunday were inside their own 40-yard line, one of those at their own 5. In what became an eight-point loss, the Broncos positioned the Packers to have touchdown drives of 37 and 5 yards.
The Broncos have struggled to keep Flacco upright on the longer-developing plays. Flacco needs to do a better job of delivering the ball on time. But, Fangio said, “routes, too, not being cleanly run” have hurt the Broncos, as has poor protection up front.
Asked Monday if he had to tell Flacco to be more aggressive at times, Fangio said: “Maybe a little bit, but not a lot, we took a couple shots [Sunday] … we had some more called, but it didn’t develop based upon what they were doing defensively, so I mean, probably, but we have been to a degree, too.”
Wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders pointed at his activity level in the offense after Sunday’s loss — “four targets, two catches, 10 yards” — but when asked how the Broncos could turn 15-play drives into seven- or eight-play scoring drives instead, he said:
“I don’t know, I don’t know, that’s not my job; my job is to catch the ball.”
And asked if he believed the ball should come to him more, he said: “I don’t know, we’ll see.”
In the end, the Broncos are still working through too many plays too often to score too few points.
“There’s obviously some things, [such as] we’re wearing their defense out, things like that,” Flacco said. “But at the end of the day, you’re making it harder on yourself, and that’s why we’re having a tough time putting it all together right now.”