The Broncos find themselves grappling with a significant third-down dilemma, a trend highlighted by their 22-17 defeat to the Houston Texans. This defeat marked the second instance in three games where the Broncos’ offense faltered on third down, an area of concern Coach Sean Payton acknowledged. The team’s struggles extended beyond the 2-for-12 performance in their previous game against Minnesota, plummeting to an abysmal 0-for-11 on third downs against the Texans.
Payton expressed his dissatisfaction, citing a combination of issues, including protection, missed opportunities with open receivers, and a failure to execute crucial plays. He emphasized the need for improvement in their third-down strategy and execution, stressing the importance of a cleaner plan.
What stood out was that a considerable portion of their third-down attempts, seven out of twelve, required only 6 or fewer yards to reach the line to gain. The Broncos consistently faced third-and-makeable situations but failed to convert, revealing a deeper issue in their offensive execution.
The concerning statistic is that it had been years since the Broncos experienced such a dire third-down performance. The last time they failed to convert a single third down was in 1995, during a game against Kansas City. This 0-for-9 performance contributed to a 20-17 loss that dashed the Broncos’ postseason hopes.
This problematic trend isn’t isolated to a single week; over the last three games, the Broncos have managed to convert only 21.6 percent of their third downs, ranking them among the lowest in the league for a three-game span. The struggles extend to their passing game, with quarterback Russell Wilson experiencing challenges in surpassing 200 gross yards passing in eight games this season. As a team, the Broncos have only achieved at least 200 net passing yards in one of their last eight games, further highlighting their offensive struggles.
The net passing yards in the last eight games, totaling 1,248, represent the team’s lowest in such a span since Tim Tebow was their quarterback in 2011. This decline in passing yards underscores the broader offensive challenges faced by the Broncos, posing a significant obstacle to their success this season.