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Vic Fangio Admits 'Confusion' on Broncos' Critical Fourth-Down Play at Arrowhead

There was visible confusion prior to a fourth-down play after Denver orchestrated a 20-play drive, so why wasn't a timeout called?

Having a 20-play drive that consumed over 11-minutes of a game not ending in points can kill any momentum a team is trying to get. Unfortunately, that's what happened to the Denver Broncos against the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday night as the offense fought, well somewhat, for first place in the AFC West. 

The drive in question ended with a turnover on downs because Denver failed to pick up a first down after coming up short on back-to-back 3rd-&-2 and 4th-&-2 attempts. The sequencing was off because in those situations, if a team is going for it, it should call a run on third down and not on fourth, if you run at all, and Denver went the opposite way.

There were multiple issues on the third-down play call, but the fourth-down play deserves the ultimate scrutiny. As Teddy Bridgewater lined up under center, rookie running back Javonte Williams was visibly confused about the play call and where he was supposed to line up. 

Head coach Vic Fangio addressed the situation on Monday, revealing that the Broncos had their wires crossed on the play, which was evident to anyone watching the game. He added more insight on the botched sequence as well. 

"Yeah, there was definitely some miscommunication there between Teddy making the call and executing the play," Fangio admitted. "Teddy gets under center a lot before he moves back to the gun. When it became obvious that he wasn't going to do that, it was kind of too late for me to run down there and call the timeout. That's what happened."

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Okay, so that provides some insight into the miscommunication, but it only raises more questions. On his decision to go for it on fourth, and how to clean up any future miscommunication issues, Fangio gave a short couple of refrains that didn't answer any of the lingering questions from his first response.  

"No. That was one of the easier decisions," Fangio said the fourth-down call. 

What about those communication issues, coach? 

"Well, it hadn't happened very often, so we were kind of surprised by that," Fangio said. 

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So the question is, why didn't Fangio call time-out? 

The embattled head coach's first response implied that it was too late for him to run down and call a timeout but he knows what the play-call is and should notice that his players aren't lining up correctly in the first place. There was visible confusion from more than Williams on the play that should have seen Fangio storming down the sideline to call a time-out, and there was plenty of time to do just that. 

Another issue with not calling a timeout breaks with Fangio's historical trend. It was a critical game situation and a big decision, and in those moments, he has called time-out to, "Make sure they got everything down and the right play," but why not here?

Denver had two timeouts remaining and 1:12 left on the clock. The Broncos needed two yards for the first down and seven to score a touchdown. This wasn't the time to be conservative with time-outs, as the Broncos were in control if the clock and had traversed nearly the entire field after starting just outside their own end zone. Saving the time-outs for the defense wasn't the right call at the time, and the sequencing afterward only reinforces that. 

Multiple refs were within a reasonable distance for Fangio to get the time-out called, but the truth is, the Broncos should never have been in a position to need a time-out so late. Fangio should have called it before lining up to give offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur time to ensure the players get everything done right. It was an easy decision to go for it, but calling a time-out was a bridge too far? 

Does Fangio think the Broncos get to keep timeouts after the half? Don't get me wrong, the execution on both plays was terrible from the Broncos, but both Shurmur and Fangio deserve to be questioned on this as the coaches set their offense up to fail. 

Consistent issues with the time-outs will only fuel the misgivings Broncos Country has with Fangio and his competency to be a head coach.


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