The Denver Broncos offense has been pathetic this season, even while a phenomenal defense plays on the other side of the ball.

At 3-5 at the mid-way point in the season, this isn’t where Denver, Nathaniel Hackett or general manager George Paton wanted to be.

“Obviously, the results aren’t there. [It’s] not good enough at 2-5. We all need to get better, and it starts with me,” Paton said before the Broncos win in London over Jacksonville. “It’s about winning games. We need to learn how to win football games. We haven’t done that.”

Why haven’t the Broncos won more games?

While Paton takes responsibility, it lands on Hackett for an awful offense and also because the team is completely underprepared week-in and week-out.

To wit, the Denver defense has allowed a mere 132 points this season, or 16.5 points per game. That’s 2nd-best in the league, and they were No. 1 in EPA/play through seven games, too.

Meanwhile, the Broncos offense is 31st in scoring, a laughably bad 15.1 points per game, while they’re also 31st on 3rd down conversion rate (29.2) and dead-last in the red zone (35.0 percent).

Why has the offense been so putrid?

Hackett’s play-calling hasn’t been great. Hell, it hasn’t even been good outside of 3 quarters. That play-calling has affected Russell Wilson’s play, although not all the blame can be placed on Hackett there; Wilson has been terrible at times, and merely passable as an NFL quarterback others.

He’s been far from the superstar quarterback Paton and Broncos Country thought they were getting. And while the good news is both Wilson and Hackett are slightly improving as the season goes on, the team’s new quarterback hasn’t had enough help from his receivers this year, either.

Broncos receivers need to step up

Through eight weeks, Denver’s receivers lead the NFL in dropped passes, tied with the Green Bay Packers and Miami Dolphins with 18 drops. While we knew they would miss Tim Patrick’s sure hands, we didn’t realize Denver would miss him this much.

Even if Patrick were healthy, Courtland Sutton was supposed to be the No. 1 receiver for this Broncos team. Instead, he’s played like a No. 2. His five dropped passes lead the team, and he’s simply not the same, dynamic receiver we saw emerging in 2021. His 35 receptions lead Denver, but his 467 yards and 1 TD are both behind Jeudy.

And Jeudy has been even worse for most of the season. The third-year receiver has enjoyed some explosive plays, helping Wilson with runs after the catch. But, he’s also wildly inconsistent; he falls down on routes, or runs the wrong routes at times, and has four drops of his own.

K.J. Hamler has been nonexistent in most games this year, although he has scored touchdowns in the last two games and averaged 20 yards per reception in his last three contests. And then there’s Kendall Hinton who probably shouldn’t be a starter but he’s been forced into the position due to injuries and depth issues in Denver.

ESPN Analytics

Recently ESPN Analytics teamed up with FiveThirtyEight to look into how receivers rank in the league. They have four metrics: Overall, getting open, making the catch and yards after the catch. And the numbers aren’t great for Jeudy and Sutton, who are the only two on the team who have qualified (24 targets).

Overall: ESPN’s ratings go from 0-99. Jeudy is a 49 overall and Sutton is a 46, ranking them 61st and 70th respectively among 98 players.

Getting open: This is the metric in which Denver’s top two receivers have been given their highest marks. Sutton earned a 70 rating (19th) and Jeudy a 67 (22nd).

Yards after the catch: Jeudy’s had some big YAC receptions, earning a 50 rating, which is 30th. Sutton, not so much: 39 rating (66th).

Catch: Here’s where things get really ugly in the Mile High City. Jeudy (27 rating) and Sutton (26 rating) are 3rd and 2nd-worst in the NFL in this category this year.

Pro Football Focus grades

Looking at PFF, Jeudy comes in as the 45th-best receiver in the league with a 69.2 grade. Sutton is much further down the list at 72nd (63.3 grade). Hinton is 78th (62.3 grade) and Hamler is 100th (57.5 grade).

Ideally, Sutton or Jeudy would be in the top-32 among their position. Instead, Jeudy is an average No. 2 receiver and Sutton has played like an average No. 3 guy.

As we look further, Jeudy’s 46th in receiving grade (69.2) and Sutton is 66th (64.8). They simply haven’t played well enough.

Positives looking forward

Simply, the receivers must help Wilson, and simultaneously, he must help them by throwing them catchable balls.

The good news is, as mentioned earlier, Wilson is improving. Over the last two games he played, the Broncos quarterback has played more under control and made some massive throws, too.

Against Jacksonville, in the Broncos’ three touchdown drives, Wilson went 5-5 for 51 yards, 5-5 for 92 yards and then 1-2 for 47 yards and Sutton’s drop. Plus, he had that key 10-yard run to move the chains on a 3rd down.

Just like Jeudy and Sutton, Wilson needs to play with more consistency, so keep an eye on that moving forward.

And as Wilson has improved, Jeudy, Hamler and rookie tight end Greg Dulcich have reaped the rewards. Jeudy and Wilson seem to be on the same page more now, and Hamler hauled in a 47-yard catch against the Jags last Sunday morning.

Plus, Dulcich is emerging as a talented, athletic, pass-catching tight end. In the Broncos’ longest drive of the year — 98 yards in the win in London — Dulcich caught passes of 18, 22 and 38 yards. He’s been crucial to helping open up the passing game for Denver and Wilson.

One more stat of note is the Broncos are enjoying many explosive passes of 20 or more yards. They are tied for 6th with 29 receptions of 20-plus yards.

Denver is currently third in the AFC West and have this week to rest before the second-half of their schedule kicks off and gets grueling. They face the AFC South-leading Titans (5-2) in Tennessee on Sunday, Nov. 13 with an 11 a.m. MT kickoff.