Broncos poor offense should shoulder the blame for loss to Rams

Case Keenum. Credit: Isiah J. Downing, USA TODAY Sports.
Case Keenum. Credit: Isiah J. Downing, USA TODAY Sports.

Another week, another poor performance from the Denver Broncos offense.

The offensive stats from the game will show decent performances across the board. Case Keenum threw for more than 300 yards while Emmanuel Sanders put up 115 receiving yards. As a team, the offense only registered one less first down than the Los Angeles Rams.

However, these stats will only tell half of the story. The Broncos entered the game as heavy underdogs to the Rams, one of only two undefeated teams in the NFL. The Broncos defense held the Rams explosive offense to only 23 points, which was a positive. However, the Broncos offense was only able to score 20 points in yet another sad showing from that unit.

When assessing the Broncos’ offensive struggles, the play of the quarterback comes first.

Case Keenum had another lukewarm game. Despite throwing for more than 300 yards, Keenum also threw his eighth interception of the season. That’s now more in six games than he had in 15 with the Minnesota Vikings last year.

Keenum looked inaccurate on multiple throws, and was often bailed out by his receivers making athletic catches. A chunk of Keenum’s yardage came from heaving deep balls to receivers such as Sanders and Courtland Sutton, who were able to come down with the ball despite the defense’s coverage. Keenum has looked like a shell of the quarterback he was last year for the Vikings.

Keenum received little help from his coaching staff, with play-calling that continued to make questionable decisions. The Broncos, ranking in the bottom 10 of the NFL in rushing attempts, once again abandoned the run in the first half and forced Keenum to throw the ball early and often.

Denver finished the game with only 17 rushing attempts, compared to Keenum’s 41 passing attempts. Promising rookie running back Royce Freeman received a mere nine carries. Fellow rookie Phillip Lindsay only rushed the ball four times all afternoon. The failure to commit to the run has plagued the Broncos all season, and once again reared its ugly head against one of the most important games of this campaign.

Despite Sanders’ 115 receiving yards, he cost the Broncos precious points early in the game. On the Broncos third possession of the game, Sanders appeared to beat his defender for a 44-yard touchdown grab. After the play, Sanders got into the face of his defender and a penalty was called for taunting. After the play was reviewed, Sanders was ruled down at the one-yard line, but the penalty would be assessed and push the Broncos back even further. The Broncos would end up settling for a field goal.

As a team, the Denver offense simply fumbled an opportunity to beat the Rams, who were held to a season-low 23 points. The Broncos’ inability to score has been a problem all season, ranking 26th in the NFL in points per game. The team once again struggled on third downs, finishing only 3-10. Denver’s inability to convert third downs led to the team giving the ball right back to the Todd Gurley-led Rams offense.

In addition to struggling on third down, the struggles to move the ball extended into the red zone. In four red zone opportunities, the Broncos were only able to score twice.

The play of the Broncos offense so far this season has been less than desirable. The Broncos had a golden opportunity to hand the Rams their first loss of the season. Instead, the offense continued to struggle. Something needs to change for the team to start winning football games.

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