Can the Broncos offensive get back on its feet?
For the first time this season, the Broncos suffered a loss.
And they didn’t like him very much.
“Honestly, we are keen on winning,” wide receiver Tim Patrick said Thursday. “After winning all of our preseason games – even though it’s preseason – and winning our first three games, everyone forgot that feeling of losing, and nobody liked it. there wasn’t much to say. We just need to go back. back on track. We’ve had a lot of little mistakes that we’re fixing this week, and we’re going to go to Pittsburgh and run things. “
As the Broncos try to bounce back, they will travel to Pittsburgh for a 1-3 clash with the Steelers – and the stakes are high for both teams. With a win, the Broncos would move up to 4-1 on the season and claim a three-game winning streak on the road for the first time since 2015. Since 1990, 77.8% of teams who started the year 4-1 made it to the playoffs, while just 49.4 percent of teams to start a season 3-2 got a playoff offer.
The Steelers’ sense of urgency is perhaps even more extreme, as 21.3% of teams have rebounded from a 2-3 start since 1990 to advance to the playoffs. If a team slips to 1-4, the success rate is only 7.3 percent.
However, the Broncos will focus entirely on themselves in Pittsburgh.
“We understand that, but it’s not about them,” security Kareem Jackson said Monday. “It’s about what we do. We have a great group of guys, and it all depends on what we do – how much control we can control. Nine times out of 10, if we do what we’re supposed to do. throughout the week in training, and if we’re going to perform, we can play with anyone. “
As outside linebacker Von Miller said Thursday, the Broncos have no choice but to react.
“We all know how [getting] this victory is ours, ”said Miller. “We all know the type of situation we find ourselves in. We have to go ahead and win these games now instead of waiting until the end of the season and praying and hoping for wins to get into the playoffs. All of those wins count and we need as many of them as we can to start the season. “
These are the questions that will determine whether the Broncos can find their way back to victory over the Steelers and claim their first victory in Pittsburgh since 2006.
CAN THE BRONCOS OFFENSIVE GET BACK ON TRACK?
The Broncos totaled just 254 total yards and completed 3 of 14 third downs as they scored seven points in a Week 4 loss to the Ravens. Denver’s offensive efforts got more difficult after Teddy Bridgewater pulled out late in the first half with a concussion, but the Broncos struggled even with their starter in the game. Denver kicked six of its seven possessions in the first half and went two to three goals in the second quarter.
Excluding Denver’s last practice of the game, the Broncos needed an average 10.1 yards on the third down, which limited their ability to convert. And the Broncos’ challenges on the third down stem, in part, from the team’s performance in the first downs. Nine times in the game, the Broncos fell back to pass the first down and either threw a check or gave up a sack. The second and 10 – or worse – put the Broncos in a hole and they couldn’t recover. Against a Pittsburgh defense that ranks 25th and third, perhaps the Broncos will be able to convert at a rate higher than their current 31.4% success rate. The key, however, will be to improve on the first few tries.
A more successful running game could help in this area, as the Broncos only ran four times in the second half against the Ravens. Offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur on Thursday highlighted the advantage that running play can bring to an offense.
“I think it’s important to stay balanced,” said Shurmur. “The balance in each game can be a little different.… We didn’t stay on the pitch and didn’t convert third downs. We had a lot of long third downs at the start of the game. When those don’t. are not converted and you’re not on schedule, so you can’t do some of the things you’d like to do. For us, that involves running the ball. “
Of course, that will also help if Bridgewater can return to the pitch to lead the offense. He was a full participant in practice on Friday, but has yet to be officially cleared to follow NFL concussion protocol.
If he returns, he will have to be wary of a Pittsburgh defense that includes former All-Pros TJ Watt, Cameron Heyward and Minkah Fitzpatrick. The Pittsburgh defense only ranks 21st for takeout and 19th for sacks in four weeks, but the unit has more than enough talent to challenge Denver.
Especially up front, the Broncos will have to be better to handle this event. The team are expected to reunite with starting goaltenders Dalton Risner and Graham Glasgow, but the whole operation will need to be cleaner after the Broncos gave up five sacks in Week 4.
“There are a lot of people involved in this,” head coach Vic Fangio said after the game. “Obviously the offensive line, the full backs, the tight ends when asked to protect against passes, and the quarterback. It’s a multi-faceted operation, and I’m sure we’ve had some breakdowns at all levels there. “
Fangio said the Steelers ‘defensive plan was “a bit” similar to the Ravens’ high pressure defense, which could help the Broncos as they head to Pittsburgh.