Film Review: 4th Quarter shows how Broncos remedy slow starts

Oct 10, 2021; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; Denver Broncos quarterback Teddy Bridgewater (5) passes against the Pittsburgh Steelers during the first quarter at Heinz Field. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Denver Broncos continue to be terrible in offensive efficiency on third downs.

Winning in the first three games, Pat Shurmur and the Denver Broncos ground out long drives consuming time of possession. Over the last two weeks, the team has failed to do so resulting in back-to-back losses.

Finishing up Week 5 play in the NFL, the Broncos are dead last in third-down conversion rate.

The major issue with the Broncos offense the last two weeks is more than their third-down success. Denver has been terrible with its first down production. This results in tough third-down scenarios.

Currently, rank near the bottom in both second-down to go, and third-down to go offensively through five contests per Stathead.com.

As of now, the offense has become predictable and stagnant. Poor execution and even worse playcalling give the offense little chance to keep drives alive when they are behind the chains.

For example, the Broncos begin Sunday’s contest offensively with a delay of the game. This is a clear indication the team was not prepared to run the first play of the game. Most offensive coaches start the game with a 15-play script to provide the team with an opportunity to play fast and dictate to their opponent. A penalty to open the contest shows a disconnect starting with Shurmur.

To make things worse, on 1st and 15 the offense runs right at the Steelers’ best defensive player, T.J. Watt for little gain.

The Broncos offense displayed a lack of preparedness hitting the field to start. Then little to no creativity to help the offense dig out of the hole compounding the issue. All in all, the first two plays illustrate what went wrong offensively in Denver’s rough first three quarters of football.

How the Broncos fix their offensive woes

The Denver offense was dead and buried until the fourth quarter Sunday and down 24-6. However, it found success and had an opportunity to tie the game with a 1st and goal situation in the final minutes. The Broncos came up short but provided some insight into how this offense can start faster.

So, what changed in the fourth quarter?

They utilized the short passing game to get ahead of the chains.

First, use tempo. The offense took control in the fourth quarter by playing to the strength of their personnel.

For example, here Teddy Bridgewater hits Noah Fant for a simple short gain on first down. However, the Broncos find themself in a manageable down and distance. This allows the offense to dictate to the defense with any type of play call they choose and keeps the Steelers’ defense on their toes.

On the very next play, Bridgewater responds by hitting Javonte Williams for a first down. Now the offense is in rhythm and continues to march down the field towards the endzone.

Though this was not on third down, it showed a recipe for how the offense can keep momentum and keep their offense on the field.

Shurmur must utilize his players better. Calling running plays is appropriate, but when it is appropriate. Getting ahead of the chains is more than calling a rushing play early. Know how the opposition wants to defend you and counter by using your skill players in ways to maximize their impact.

For the Broncos to get back on track against the Las Vegas Raiders next Sunday, they must be more aggressive. This means getting their star players involved through the quick passing game. Utilizing the short passing game does this early and helps your offense gain confidence, which this team desperately needs right now.

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