Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
The offense has to start playing better earlier.
After losing to the Falcons the natural reaction is to be disappointed. I am, but 21 points in the 4th quarter? Again? How are we supposed to react to that?
Let’s start by recognizing a couple of things. Injuries made this game a much tougher proposition for the defense. AJ Bouye, Bryce Callahan, and Shelby Harris all out? The battle was uphill before the game ever even started. Add in the loss of Demar Dotson and Albert Okwuegbunam during the game, and the hits just keep coming.
And I know that excuses are the language of losers. Every team has to deal with injuries and the Broncos have had plenty of practice dealing with them this season. So, what can be said here? The Broncos could have won this game.
The offense was, once again, bad throughout the first three quarters. The play calling by Pat Shurmur has to get better. The scripted plays at the start of the game result in far too many kicks. Punting throughout the first half, settling for field goals, and failing to get touchdowns until the 4th quarter is becoming an unpopular trend in Denver.
Here’s the thing. It’s fun to watch the Broncos try and come back for a win. Drew Lock finding a way to string drives together resulting in touchdowns makes the games enjoyable. But winning is hard when you don’t start playing well until the very end.
It wasn’t like Atlanta was playing prevent defense. The game was far from over when the Broncos started putting points on the board. The first, a great throw to Jerry Jeudy, where Lock anticipated the route, and hit Jeudy who curled and then walked into the end zone. The second, Lock looked off the safety, and hit Tim Patrick, who didn’t even want to celebrate.
The final touchdown for Denver was on a Drew Lock run where he threw his shoulder into the defender at the end and scored. The offense played really well in the 4th quarter. Lock was great. But only playing in the last quarter makes it awful hard to win games.
What I am not going to do is bash Lock. It’s obvious that the Broncos have a long way to go on offense. This is a young team, but they keep showing the grit to stay in games. They keep coming back. They keep playing hard, no matter what. I like that.
Now, if they could just make things happen in the first three quarters. If they can do that, Denver can make a lot of noise the rest of the way in 2020.