DENVER, CO — The last three weeks haven’t been courteous to the Denver Broncos as their defense has continued to struggle to stop the run. Facing a quick turnaround ahead of Thursday Night Football, Denver doesn’t have much time to come up with a permanent solution.

Denver Broncos run defense on pace for historic allowance

Sunday’s loss to the New York Jets shared a glaring insight into how badly the Denver Broncos defense has struggled so far to start the season. After holding Las Vegas Raiders running back Josh Jacobs to 48 yards on 19 carries in Week 1, Denver’s defense has experienced a freefall.

Beginning in Week 3 against the Miami Dolphins, the Broncos’ defense surrendered 350 rushing yards in a single game to them. In Week 4 against the Chicago Bears, the defense allowed 171 rushing yards even though they held on to win.

Against the Jets, explosive running back Breece Hall imposed his will and found open space after open space against Denver’s defense, helping New York accumulate 234 rushing yards.

If you exclude the Dolphins game, the Broncos have surrendered over 878 total yards of offense to opponents in two games. Including the Dolphins game, the Broncos have allowed 1604 total yards of offense in the last three games.

Those numbers are astronomically bad, considering Denver’s 1-4 record. On his Monday conference call, Broncos head coach Sean Payton shared his thoughts on what’s going on with the run defense.

“Good question,” Payton said. “Just going through it, our gap integrity has been poor in all three games. We got wide yesterday on the big run. That was the first topic this morning. In other words, this has been—it’s going to be tough to win games if we can’t stop the run defensively, and we have to get it cleaned up. I’d start with pitting the right gaps and then understanding, scheme-wise, what we’re getting and how to restrict those holes. A lot of it—it’s not communication, it’s technique, but that has to get better.”

Broncos facing short week and massive challenge on Thursday Night Football

The unfortunate reality in the NFL is that nobody feels sorry for you. Payton realizes this, and despite the public scrutiny the team has faced due to their recent struggles, their challenges get even more difficult with a short turnaround AFC West divisional rivalry matchup with the Kansas City Chiefs on Thursday Night Football.

The Chiefs enter Thursday’s game sitting at 4-1 with a very good offense that has balance in the run and passing game. Kansas City’s rushing offense is currently ranked 12th with the team averaging 123.0 yards per game on the ground.

Isiah Pacheco leads the Chiefs rushing attack this season with 325 yards on the ground, followed by Patrick Mahomes, who is elusive getting outside the pocket with 154 rushing yards entering Week 6.

There aren’t many weaknesses with their offense and their personnel, and that’s something Payton recognizes. Regardless of the circumstances, Payton’s focus is on implementing change, even if the process is unpleasant.

“You pay attention to all of that,” Payton said regarding his team’s mentality. “One of the things about this league [is that] there’s nothing like winning. Obviously when you’re not having success, you have to dig deep. It’s difficult; it’s tough. You get up in the morning, it’s unpleasant, and yet—I think I have pretty good instincts relative to how to approach the team and how to guide the team relative to the next challenge, and that’s what we’re going to do this week.”

Broncos release estimated practice report on Monday

Ahead of their matchup on Thursday against the Kansas City Chiefs, the Denver Broncos released an estimated practice report for Monday. They did not practice on Monday.

  • Defensive tackle D.J. Jones – knee – DNP.
  • Outside linebacker Baron Browning – knee – limited.
  • Center Lloyd Cushenberry – quad – limited.
  • Defensive tackle Mike Purcell – ribs – limited.
  • Safety Justin Simmons – hip – limited.
  • Running back Javonte Williams – quad – limited.

The Broncos will return to practice on Tuesday at the Centura Health Training Center.