Denver Broncos: Five simple fixes that can turn the ship around
Win first down and third down
The Broncos are not going to gain 10 yards on every first-down play, and they aren’t going to finish the season with 100 percent of their third downs converted. That’s just the nature of the game. You win some, you lose some.
But right now, the Broncos are the seventh-worst team in the league when it comes to converting third downs on offense, and are rapidly declining in third-down defense.
On first down, the Broncos are actually very effective offensively for the most part. They average 8.6 yards per pass attempt on 1st-and-10 (or longer). They are also averaging 5.8 yards per carry on first down plays.
So why in the world do they continue to fail when third down pops up?
I have a theory, and it’s that the Broncos are calling a lot of low percentage pass plays on third downs. An example would be the throw from Case Keenum to Jeff Heuerman in the red zone that could have easily been thrown in bounds but was sailed over Heuerman’s head.
The fade has not been Keenum’s strength this season yet the Broncos continue attempting plays like that and others that would be considered ’50-50′ plays where they are looking at matchups and telling their receivers to go win jump balls or contested catch situations.
The problem is, Keenum has been inaccurate on those throws and has completed just 46.7 percent of his third-down passes with five sacks, more than any other down.
This means to me that the Broncos are running too many longer developing routes on third downs and Keenum is taking deeper drops than he should be when the Broncos’ strength is after the catch.
There is no 3rd-and-5 the Broncos should not convert with the personnel at their disposal. Musgrave has to scheme better.