Though they opened the campaign with aspirations of repeating as Super Bowl champions, the Denver Broncos came up well short this season.

The Broncos finished the season 9-7, and limped into the offseason needing a new coach, and some answers to the questions that plagued their season.

The Orange Crush defense may have taken a step back from a season ago, but they were still one of the toughest defenses in the NFL. Von Miller and company registered 42 sacks, while allowing just 316 total yards per game. Yes, the run defense needs to bounce back next year, but this unit is still among the league’s elite.

The problem for the 2016 Denver Broncos was, of course, that anemic offense.

The Broncos offense finished the season ranked 27th in total yards per game, with just 323. They were 21st in passing yards, 27th in rushing yards, 22nd in points, and turned the ball over 25 times.

Those offensive numbers are going to make it very difficult to win many games. Coincidentally, Broncos fans saw a very similar situation 39 years ago.

It was January 15, 1978 when the Denver Broncos went to the big game for the very first time. Denver had surprised most of the football world by going 12-2 in the regular season, then they knocked off the previous two Super Bowl champions in the postseason.

In the divisional round of the 1977 AFC playoffs, the Orange Crush intercepted Terry Bradshaw three times, and the Broncos held off the Pittsburgh Steelers 34-21. Then, in the biggest game ever played at Mile High Stadium, the Broncos faced their archrival the Oakland Raiders, for the right to go to the Super Bowl. Once again, it was the defense that carried that day as Larry Evans and Brison Manor each recovered a fumble. Bob Swenson intercepted a Ken Stabler pass, and the Raiders offense was held to just 298 yards. The Broncos beat the Raiders, the fans stormed the field like college students, and the Broncos were headed to their very first Super Bowl in franchise history.

The city of Denver boasted a population of less than 500,000 residents, and John Elway was still attending Granada Hills High School, but the Broncos of 1977 faced some very similar circumstances to today.

In Super Bowl XII, Denver would be let down by an offense that struggled mightily to generate first downs, let alone touchdowns.

On Super Bowl Sunday, the Broncos defense proved to be up to the task of slowing down a high-powered Dallas Cowboys offensive attack. Quarterback Roger Staubach would finish the game just 17 for 25 for 183 yards, while being sacked five times. Running back Tony Dorsett managed only 66 yards on 15 carries, and the Dallas offense finished with just 325 total yards.

It should have been more than enough. Saying that the Broncos offense was incompetent on this day however, would be an understatement.

Denver quarterbacks Craig Morton and Norris Weese combined to go 8 for 25 for just 61 yards. They were sacked four times, threw four interceptions and fumbled once. The Broncos turned the ball over a whopping eight times, and compiled just 156 total yards.

Sound familiar?

The Broncos would lose to the Cowboys 27-10, and be left with a feeling that they had squandered an opportunity. The original Orange Crush would never get back to the big game again.

In today’s NFL, having a defense that can actually stop the offense when the rules are so clearly tipped in their favor, is rare. Yet, if new head coach Vance Joseph and new offensive coordinator Mike McCoy can’t figure out a way to generate some offense, this defense will be held to just a single title.

Like that 1977 team, this group needs improvement on their offensive line. The development of a running game could go a long way toward aiding whichever young quarterback they choose to start.

Now that Joseph and McCoy are on the job, the work begins so that this all of this defensive talent isn’t wasted; so that the Broncos capitalize before their window of opportunity closes.