While scrolling through Twitter/X after the Denver Broncos lost to the Las Vegas Raiders, 16-17, an interesting post surfaced that mentioned an important part of success for any offense.
SportSource Analytics, an analytics company for college football, had a tremendous post and described the term Walsh Rating. It's the ability to convert first downs by avoiding third downs. In other words, gaining first downs on early downs (first and second down).
Michael Lombardi said that he learned from Bill Parcells, who Sean Payton learned from too, that the best way to convert third downs is to not be in third down. In the post above, SportSource Analytics mentioned that Bill Walsh said that great offenses don't wait for third down to convert first downs.
Therefore, this popular sports analytics platform company created the score called Walsh Rating, in honor of the great coach Bill Walsh. To translate this to what Payton and the Broncos did in their season opener, I went through the six possessions they had to see how successful the offense was.
The Denver Broncos were great and efficient in moving the ball on offense against the Raiders
Everyone in the league harps and emphasizes on converting third downs, as they should. But the great offenses limit those situations by having success on first and second down.
The Broncos did a great job of converting first downs on early downs against the Raiders. Denver had 11 3rd down attempts, which was tied for the third-fewest among teams in Week 1.
Payton did a great job in limiting how many times they were in a third-down situation, which proved why they ranked as one of the most efficient offenses in Week 1.
By my count, the Broncos converted 10 first downs on early downs (first and second down). In the first half alone, they recorded seven of the 10 they had in total. Denver entered halftime with the lead and on pace to score 26 points.
In the second half, they only recorded three first downs on early downs, which impeded their ability to produce more points. This resulted in the Broncos only scoring three points in the second half and ultimately losing the season opener by one point.
Even with the limited possessions they had in the game, Payton had his offense on pace to score a bunch of points due to their early down success. If they mirrored what they did in the first half to the Raiders in the second half, the result would have been much different.
Many people around the world would see that the Broncos only scored 16 points and that the offense has not improved from last year. While this is completely wrong, individuals should understand that Denver only had six possessions.
To put it into context, the majority of games have 9-12 possessions for both teams. The Broncos produced an average of 2.7 points per possession against the Raiders. So if Denver would of reached the average number of possessions a team usually gets for a game, those points per possession numbers would equate to 27-32 points.
Broncos Country and fans around the world should not worry about the offense under Payton. They looked much improved and efficient from recent years. As the season continues to progress, the offense will only get better with the familiarity and knowledge they will gain from game-to-game.