There’s no way to sugar coat it. The Denver Broncos have 99 problems and they all fall on the offensive side of the ball. Denver was shut out for the first time in 394 games thanks to a 21-0 loss to the Chargers leaving head coach Vance Joseph puzzled.
“To get shut out. That’s not acceptable,” said Joseph.
The opening series for the Broncos’ offense was a blatant sign of things to come. After C.J. Anderson was stuffed at the line twice, tight end A.J. Derby would go on to cough up the football after one of quarterback Trevor Siemian’s only completions over 10 yards.
The Chargers would go on to drive down the field all the way to the one yard line only to have the Denver defense stuff the Chargers four times for a goal line stand. However, the Broncos defense could only bail out the offense so many times.
“Overall the defense played in my opinion winning football,” stated Joseph with a blank stare. Denver’s defense in total gave up just 14 points as Chargers’ receiver Travis Benjamin ran back a punt 65 yards for the game’s first score.
“It was an awful punt. It was a line drive, hit the ground and bounced right to the guy,” noted Joseph. “The plan was to put the ball on the sideline and kind of trap the guy because he had great speed. It started with the punt and once the punt is bad the coverage ends up suffering because of the punt being so bad. So unacceptable, can’t do it.”
The Broncos’ defense held their end of the bargain as they held Chargers’ running back Melvin Gordon to just 38 yards on 18 carries. Chargers’ quarterback Philip Rivers was also held in check for most of the afternoon and finished with only 183 yards. Forty-two of those yards came on a late fourth quarter touchdown throw to Benjamin against a worn out Denver defense.
Denver couldn’t run the football either as Anderson and Jamaal Charles combined for 46 yards on 14 carries. The lack of a running game served as a death sentence for Siemian. The Broncos’ offensive line came into Sunday banged up due to calf injuries to both right tackles Menelik Watson and Donald Stephenson and it showed.
Allen Barbre, who had been playing guard all year, stepped in to start at right tackle only to face off against defensive end Joey Bosa. Bosa had his way with Barbre and finished with two of the five Charger team sacks.
Any confidence that Siemian displayed in the Broncos first two wins of the season seems to be long gone. The Broncos’ starter could be seen running for his life for most of the game while overthrowing and underthrowing receivers time and time again.
“I’ve got to play better though, that’s the bottom line,” said Siemian. “These last two weeks I haven’t played good enough for us to win. When you’re the quarterback you touch it every play. I need to be better.”
Siemian ended his day with 207 yards to go along with an interception and a fumble. With another lackluster performance, the Denver coaching staff will have to decide if it’s time to make a change at quarterback.
Today will go down in Broncos’ past among the most pathetic in the long history of the franchise. The road ahead also doesn’t get any easier for the 3-3 Broncos. Denver will play their next three games against perhaps the three best teams in the league in the Kansas City Chiefs, Philadelphia Eagles and New England Patriots. It’s time for everybody that has anything to do with the offense to take a long and hard look in the mirror. Being puzzled doesn’t cut it.