Broncos offense abandons run early, unable to execute in loss to Jets

Phillip Lindsay runs. Credit: Robert Deutsch, USA TODAY Sports.
Phillip Lindsay runs. Credit: Robert Deutsch, USA TODAY Sports.

Another week into the 2018 season brought yet another poor performance from the Denver Broncos, as the team fell to the New York Jets with a score of 34-16.

It’s a humiliating loss against a Jets team that snapped a three-game losing streak by taking down the Broncos. The Broncos, after starting the season 2-0, have now lost three games in a row.

While the entire team looked flat and outmatched by the Jets, the offense was especially a weak spot for the struggling Broncos. The failure to score, unwillingness to stay committed to the run, and inability to convert on third down was more than enough to contribute to the team’s loss.

The Broncos failed to establish a consistent running game from the start of the contest. Unable to establish a consistent rushing attack, the Broncos began to abandon the run as the game progressed. The team finished with just 92 rushing yards.

After starting the season white-hot, the Broncos rookie running back duo cooled down significantly. Starting running back Royce Freeman finished with just 31 yards, while rookie sensation Phillip Lindsay finished Sunday with 61 yards, respectively.

While these numbers seem unimpressive on their own, the final stats only tell half of the story. Both running backs averaged over five yards per carry. The problem with the Broncos running game, was the decision to abandon the running game so early. The Broncos ran the ball only 17 times, compared to the 51 pass attempts thrown by Case Keenum. The lack of a balanced offensive gameplan ultimately led to the Broncos undoing as the team struggled to find any consistency in moving the ball.

Denver especially failed to move the ball when it mattered. Struggling to find any rhythm on offense, the Broncos stammered when facing third down. The team converted just four 4-14 third down attempts (28%). By comparison, the Jets finished 6-13 (46%) of their own third down attempts.

Without a commitment to the running game, the Broncos often faced third and long situations that Keenum and the passing offense were often unable to overcome.

Even when the Broncos did find offensive success, their offense would soon falter after. Despite a greater time of possession and out-gaining the Jets with 26 first downs compared to 18, the Broncos were unable to turn much of their offensive success into points. While the defense was steamrolled by the Jets offense throughout  the game, the Broncos’ offense did them no favors by failing to execute through all four quarters of the game. Each of the Broncos touchdowns came from a Jets’ fumble inside their own 20, while the other came in garbage time on a throw to Demaryius Thomas.

The loss drops the Broncos to under .500 for the first time this season. The team is dangerously trending in the wrong direction, currently on a three-game losing streak.

Next week won’t be any easier of a task, as the Broncos will host the Los Angeles Rams, who many consider a top-three team in the NFL. For Denver to pull off a major upset against one of the NFL’s best teams, they will need to find success on offense that has eluded them for most of the season.