The Denver Broncos offense has left a lot to be desired all season long.
Rich Scangarello was supposed to be the young, exciting play-caller; instead his offense has looked like Mike Shanahan’s in the mid-90s. Not that Shanahan’s offense wasn’t great back, 25 years ago, but in today’s game it often lacks surprise and aggression.
Currently, Denver’s offense averages 16.6 points per game, which is fourth-worst in the NFL. There have been multiple issues with that side of the ball including Joe Flacco’s attempt to meld with teammates — and now his injury — the offensive line’s ineptitude and a lack of depth at wide receiver.
Our writers take a look at Scangarello, giving him a letter grade, as well as which players and position groups have stood out through nine games of the season here in our round table discussion:
Rich Kurtzman (@RichKurtzman)
Scangarello’s offense has been simply awful through the first nine weeks of the season. Besides their terrible scoring numbers, the Broncos are 30th in passing touchdowns, 28th in passing yards and 26th in first downs. Where we saw the Broncos kill the rest of the team — namely the defense — has been late in games where they’ve been unable to gain the game-winning first downs. That happened against the Chicago Bears, the Indianapolis Colts and the Jacksonville Jaguars; all losses.
The worst was the draw to Phillip Lindsay on a much-needed 3rd-and-5. That play call was likely “Scangs” worst of the year. Finally, he got more aggressive in the win over the Browns, but it was too little, too late as Denver is out of the playoff race.
Ronnie Kohrt (@RonnieKRadio)
I’m not impressed with much of what I’ve seen from the Broncos offense from a fundamental play calling standpoint. They’re extremely conservative when they need to be aggressive, that’s a lack of feel for the game’s situation.
The offensive woes from Flacco can be to blame for the inefficiencies in the first half of the season, but it doesn’t excuse Scangarello for poor decisions and questionable play-calling.
The lack of aggression was pointed out publicly by his players and needs to improve for the second half.
Zach Segars (@Zach_Segars)
The offense has been disappointing this season, but a D feels too harsh considering the bright spots Rich Scangarello has seen. The offensive line is still a major problem and Joe Flacco and his receivers, outside of Emmanuel Sanders — who is no longer with the team — and Courtland Sutton, have been disappointments. There have been multiple instances of Scangarello being too conservative with play calling and at times he’s made head-scratching decisions.
Aniello Piro (@MediaByAP)
Scangarello has been dreadful in his first season with the Broncos. The Broncos offense has been putrid since the departure of Peyton Manning, and the hiring of Scangarello was supposed to right the ship. Instead of revolutionizing the Broncos offense, Scangarello has run it into the ground, literally. The Broncos play call has been dull all season, featuring textbook runs into the teeth of the defense and conservative passes that lead to short drives. Additionally, the Broncos have struggled mightily in the red zone, mainly in part due to un-inspiring play calls. All in all, the Broncos look like a team that is afraid to lose on offense.
Players who deserve spotlight
Ronnie: Noah Fant is the easy selection here. Fans have been too harsh on the rookie early in the season. Learning two positions as a rookie tight-end usually leads to a long learning curve. He has talent that nobody else on the Broncos offense brings. Be patient with him.
Aniello: Lindsay has been the one consistent aspect of the Broncos offense this season. He’s been a great asset in a Broncos offense that has been extremely dull this year.
Rich: Dalton Risner has seen some spotlight, but it’s faded as the season has gone on. The kid is an absolute stud and should be around for many years to come, controlling the line of scrimmage like few Broncos draft picks have in recent memory.
Zach: Risner has been a bruiser in both the run and pass game and should be a franchise guard for the next decade. I shudder at the thought of this line without him.
Position group who’s performed the best
Zach: I’ll go outside the box and say wide receiver. Courtland Sutton appears to be one of the most improved players in the league and is trending towards being a top ten receiver despite not having a decent quarterback throwing the ball his way. Emmanuel Sanders was a stud before the Broncos traded him away, and Diontae Spencer has been a gem of a find.
Ronnie: I’ll give some love to fullback since running back is the low-hanging fruit. Andy Janovich has been an absolute beast for Denver and has justified every bit of his new contract. Springing holes for Lindsay and Freeman, Janovich is arguably been one of the most consistent players this year when healthy.
Rich: Phillip Lindsay and the running backs have done a fantastic job, especially considering the awful offensive line. Speaking of: The Broncos need to give Lindsay the ball more often, even if Royce Freeman has balled out this year.
Aniello: The 1-2 punch of Lindsay and Freeman is a great duel-threat backfield. The backs have done a great job of instilling some sort of flow in the offense.
Position group that must improve
Zach: Offensive line. It doesn’t matter who is back there playing quarterback if he doesn’t even have two seconds to throw the ball. The line is holding the whole team back because it’s preventing them to get reliable evaluations of Scangarello, Flacco, and Allen among others.
Ronnie: Quarterback and offensive line. This team is going nowhere with either playing the way they are. Both have been far below average and Denver will not consistently win with either playing like that are.
Aniello: Denver drafted Noah Fant in the first round, hoping he would fill the void but he has been extremely disappointing this season. The tight end position is a safety spot for quarterbacks and the Broncos lack a quality player at the position.
Rich: The offensive line, simple as that.