The Denver Bronco’s lack of energy and effort in the first half of ball games continues to be the team's Achilles heel. The Broncos were manhandled by a depleted but well-coached Cleveland Browns team on Thursday night.
After four straight losses, the evidence is clear: the Broncos are not a very good football team. It’s imperative that head coach Vic Fangio and his staff take action to change their approach to get this team better prepared for games.
In the wake of Thursday's 17-14 loss, it looks as if the Broncos haven't learned from their repeated mistakes. Wasn’t it Einstein who said the definition of insanity is “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results?"
Let's talk good, bad, and ugly from Thursday night's action.
Shelby Harris | DL
Harris made impact plays that aided in the Broncos staying in a competitive position. The veteran defensive tackle didn’t succumb to the effort malaise that his teammates seemed to suffer from.
Harris blocked a field goal and produced a sack against Cleveland's backup quarterback Case Keenum. It was good to see Harris compete and contribute after a quiet first six games.
Second Half Performance
In the third quarter, the Broncos seemed determined not to be completely embarrassed on national television. The offense began the second half with determination and scored on the opening drive.
Despite their renewed sense of urgency, the Broncos were outplayed and outcoached during most of the game. The hill was simply too steep for the Broncos to climb. Hopefully, the team has finally learned the consequence of not completing all four quarters.
Defense Has Lost its Edge
During preseason, the Broncos' defense was touted as being a top-five NFL unit. Injuries and a lack of execution and effort in key situations have made the defense unreliable.
The tarnished unit must regain its luster and recapture its ability to be an effective force in critical third-down situations. A good example of the defense's lack of efficiency was allowing third-string Browns running back D’Ernest Johnson to dominate to the tune of 146 yards rushing on 22 carries.
Offensive Identity Crisis
Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater and the entire offense were infective the entire first half. The Broncos couldn’t gain traction in either the run or pass game. As importantly, it appeared the unit couldn’t even muster the energy to win on third downs.
Offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur struggled to attack Cleveland's defensive weaknesses and exploit players that struggle in certain aspects of their assignments. It’s clear the offense needs an infusion of new concepts from someone outside the Broncos organization.
Will to Compete has Been Lost
Although the Broncos have clearly been outcoached the last four games, the bigger concern is the team’s lack of desire to compete. There are too many instances where Denver has allowed opponents to impose their will during key stretches of the game.
You could see Fangio’s frustration on the sideline as he watched his defense get pushed around. The coaching staff is facing one of the toughest tasks of their respective careers. How do you get pro players to fight when they appear to have checked out on the coaches?
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