It’s been tough sledding for the Denver Broncos’ offense over the last two weeks.
After posting 10 points in a loss to the New York Giants two weeks ago, the Broncos were shut out in their Week 7 matchup against the Los Angeles Chargers.
For an offense that got off to such a promising start, they head into an important Week 8 matchup with Kansas City looking for anything that will help them put an end to their skid.
According to offensive coordinator Mike McCoy, the key to fixing the offense’s problems boils down to taking care of the ball and limiting penalties.
“Number one: We have to quit turning the football over,” McCoy said after Friday’s practice. “That’s the first thing. Throughout the season, that’s one thing that has hurt our team. When you’re moving the ball and you’re doing certain things, then [give up] a turnover.”
The Broncos are struggling with turnovers on both sides of the football. The Broncos minus-8 turnover ratio ranks 30th in the NFL entering Monday night’s game. According to McCoy, if the Broncos can find a way to protect the ball, the success will come.
“That’s the most important thing,” McCoy said. “Everyone understands that we have to quit turning the football over.”
That’s a message that’s coming from the top down, as Vance Joseph hammered that fact home earlier in the week.
“Our issue is just tightening the details of our job up and not giving the ball away. That’s our issue. In our three wins we’re even in turnovers and in our three loses we’re minus eight. It’s simple as that,” the head coach said.
In their two meetings with Kansas City last year, both losses, Denver lost the cumulative turnover battle 4-1. The Broncos fumbled three times in each game, losing one in the first meeting and two in the second. Trevor Siemian and Alex Smith were each intercepted once in the second matchup.
Kansas City this season is plus-7 in turnover ratio (tied with Detroit for third); they finished last season plus-16, tied with Oakland for tops in the league.
If taking care of the football is the most important thing a team can do, then the next most important thing the Broncos can do is to eliminate as many penalties as possible. McCoy knows that nothing derails an offense’s momentum quicker than penalties.
“Secondly, we have to eliminate penalties,” McCoy said. “There are some things where we’re driving the ball at the end and there’s a penalty here and there, especially in the red area — which are critical at times. There are certain mistakes every game where we have to play better.”
Denver currently ranks 18th in penalty yards surrendered per game, with an average of 59.3. They will need to take advantage of a Chiefs team that has been flagged for 76.6 yards per game – dead last in the NFL. Kansas City is giving opponents an average of three first downs by penalty this season, the third-most in the league.
McCoy knows that if the Broncos can cut back on turnovers and penalties, the offense can get find their way back on track. Because, simply put, the team needs them to.
“We have to put points on the board and be more efficient as an offense for 60 minutes.”
The Broncos face a Kansas City team that enters the game ranked third in the NFL in points per game with 29.6 and first in offensive points per game (estimated) with 27.9. Kickoff is at 6:30 p.m. MDT from Kansas City.