It wasn’t just ugly, it was hideous.
The Broncos went three and out on their first four possessions, including all three of their first quarter drives and they didn’t manage to record a first down until the second quarter. The drought stemmed from a mix of poor throws, drops and unsuccessful runs, and quarterback Trevor Siemian acknowledged the difficulty of winning football games when a game begins in such a manner.
“It’s tough,” he said. “Yeah, it’s tough being in a hole like that. Four three-and-outs, that’s not good for the whole football team, but certainly they have got to find a way to find a rhythm earlier on in the ballgame.”
The offensive struggles didn’t come from a lack of preparation or any unexpected twists, Siemian said. The Raiders ran the same scheme the Broncos expected, they just weren’t able to execute.
“They mix some coverages, but it was pretty consistent with what we thought they’d do,” Siemian said “But, yeah, you know, certainly maintain a balance. … If you don’t have that balance, they’re able to do a little more to you, but nothing that we didn’t expect.”
Head Coach Gary Kubiak agreed with that assessment and said that without a decent running attack, a team like the Raiders becomes very difficult to beat. Even so, he continues to like what he sees from the second-year player who threw two touchdowns in a difficult road environment.
So now the Raiders have the lead in the AFC West and the Broncos slip to third place, behind the Chiefs.
It ain’t over yet, but the Broncos will need help. They will need teams who have yet to play the Raiders and Chiefs to step up and beat them for the Broncs to have a chance at the division title. Not a happy scenario.
Looking ahead to next week, the Broncos travel to New Orleans to take on the 4-4 Saints.
The Saints are coming off a big 41-23 win against the 49er’s. Drew Brees threw for 323 yards and 3 TD’s in that game.
Against the Saints this coming Sunday, the defending champs’ chances are not looking good. The defense is having trouble keeping up with fast paced offenses. All of the Bronco loses have come against teams that play fast and score a lot of points.
The Broncos also need help in the run game. The loss of CJ Anderson has put a huge dent in the teams run offense. Booker and Bibbs have yet to make up for Anderson’s absence. In the last three games Booker has only managed 154 yards and averaged a meager 3.4 yards per carry.
The Saints have a very balanced game. They are just as comfortable running the ball as they are letting Brees air it out. Against the Niners last week they racked up a combined 571 yards.
At this point in the season, the Broncos are in a tough spot. They need this win. If they can’t beat the Saints on the road next week, they may as well consider this season a rebuilding year.
The sputtering offense and injuries on defense have combined to put the Broncos in a position where repeating as AFC West champs, much less a trip to the Super Bowl is a long shot and getting longer by the week.