Broncos’ offense sinks to new depths in Sunday’s loss


The Broncos’ offense on Sunday at Carolina played so poorly that their failures compounded over the course of the game.

Quarterback Russell Wilson and company couldn’t generate enough yardage to stay out of third downs, couldn’t convert enough third downs to stay on the field and weren’t on the field long enough to figure out anything that might work.

Their seven first-half possessions ended in four punts, a field goal, a missed field goal, and a fumble. Five possessions covered 15 or fewer yards and none lasted longer than five plays.

Then the second half opened with three consecutive punts before the Broncos finally scored their only touchdown in a 23-10 loss.

The Broncos had the ball for just 22 minutes, 57 seconds, finished with a season-worst 246 yards of offense and left head coach Nathaniel Hackett at a loss for answers.

“Unfortunately we started off backed up and we had that minus-yardage play right out of the gate and then we’re longer down-and-distance for third down,” Hackett said Monday of the team’s opening drive. “Then (on the next drive) we were backed up at our own 12, had an opportunity on third-and-3 and didn’t convert on that. Those two drives, there’s a critical play on each one that kind of stalls the drive. We’ve got to eliminate those so we have the ability to continue a drive.”

Denver hasn’t done that well the entire season. Since converting 8-of-15 on third down in the season opener against Seattle, the Broncos haven’t hit on more than 31.5% of their third downs in any game.

What’s just as troubling is the Broncos’ offense turned in its worst performance of the year in the second week with quarterbacks coach Klint Kubiak calling plays.

Wilson threw the ball 35 times and was sacked three times, finishing with 142 passing yards. That 4.06 yards per pass attempt is Denver’s worst of the season – lower than the 4.9 with backup quarterback Brett Rypien against the New York Jets and 5.6 against San Francisco in Week 3 – and is the fourth-worst mark for Wilson in 168 career games played.

“It’s a combination of a lot of different things,” Hackett said when asked about Wilson’s struggles. “There is some semblance of newness with this whole group and we’ve had a lot of changes throughout the offense with different people that have been out there playing with him.

“And we’ve got to get him the confidence back to make the plays that he can make, but he’s out there fighting every single play. I give him so much credit. He’s taken a bunch of hits and it’s because he’s doing everything he can to make a play. I appreciate that and how he’s doing that and everyone’s got to play better around him.”


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