During this turbulent Denver Broncos season, the feeling was that sooner or later, things would all come to a head if the losses continued to pile up. First, it was Emmanuel Sanders punching his ticket out of town — at least if you take GM John Elway on his word, anyway.
Frustrations have finally boiled over for QB Joe Flacco in the wake of the Broncos self-imploding late loss at Indianapolis.
If another late heartbreak was hard enough to stomach, it was the domino effect of errors that led to it that really stings the soul. With the Broncos facing a late 3rd-and-5 to put the Indianapolis Colts away at the two-minute warning, the decision to play it safe has caused Flacco to vent his spleen.
“Once again, we’re a 2-6 football team and it just feels like we’re kind of afraid to lose a game,” Flacco said from the podium following the game.
With the Broncos having been down this path of blowing late advantages so frequently, simply repeating the formula seems bordering on the sadistic. At some point, the coaches have to throw caution to the wind and close out a nail-biter.
“It’s third-and-five and the end of the game, who cares if they have a timeout there at the end or not," Flacco said.
Flacco’s frustrations come at a point when his own play has hurt the team as much as any factor but his comments do resonate with what many fans have been ranting about recently. The fact being that the Rich Scangarello-designed offense lacks the essential elements of guts and aggression to put the Broncos over the hump in tight ball games.
While it is now all too easy to pour over the QB vs. inexperienced offensive coordinator angle, it provides first-year head coach Vic Fangio with a big headache. In order to put this internal fire out, he will have to call on new skills and all before the season even hits the mid-way point.
Following the Week 9 collapse, Fangio didn’t hide from addressing his own frustrations about his offense settling for field goals in a first half of missed scoring opportunities.
“Yeah, those hurt you," Fangio said following the game. "They usually come back to bite you – especially for us, we don’t score many points anyway.”
All of this sounds very much like Fangio's frustration in the offense's lack of point production is growing. However, in his position as head coach, the responsibility ultimately resides with him to get more out of his team in all departments.
Watching the Broncos now often becomes a process of waiting 58 minutes for the gassed defense to eventually make the slip-ups that deliver more heartbreak. With more potholes lying ahead in the toxic afterglow of Flacco’s comments, is it possible that Fangio might even take drastic action and strip Scangarello of his play-calling responsibilities?
Elway and company thought enough of Mike Munchak this past offseason to interview him for Fangio’s top job, so it may be a last resort, change-of-direction the Broncos could move towards to assuage the offensive woes.
After another damaging loss and the trade deadline looming, it’s time for Fangio to earn his crust, yet more hard decisions could be close at hand. Including what to do with the quarterback position in the wake of Flacco's neck injury.