Broncos need more from offense on third-and-manageable

Oct 11, 2021, 8:31 PM | Updated: Oct 12, 2021, 4:48 pm
Teddy Bridgewater...
(Photo by Mark Alberti/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
(Photo by Mark Alberti/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

There’s been a lot of chatter during the past few days about how the Denver Broncos need to start off faster — faster at the start of the game, faster to start each drive, etc.

And for good reason.

“We’ve obviously had that problem here the last couple weeks offensively, and yesterday, defensively also,” Broncos head coach Vic Fangio said Monday after Denver’s 27-19 loss in Pittsburgh on Sunday.

“We just have to start the game with a little bit more urgency and get into it quicker.”

Indeed, the Broncos have had issues igniting the offense right from the gun, especially during the past two weeks against tougher opponents, scoring just three first quarter points.

But perhaps more concerning is how Denver has fared on third-and-manageable situations.

Talking with the media Monday, Fangio said, “Obviously, our first- and second-down offense has to be better — both in the run game and pass game — so we’re not in so many third-and-longs.

“When you do get in third-and-longs, you have to be able to convert some of them. You can’t get shut out. It’s two-fold there. We have to throw it and run it better on the early downs, and we have to be able to convert some of the longer ones to keep drives going.”

Denver has done a solid job converting some of those “longer ones,” ranking in the top-half of the NFL in first-down rates in third-and-6 or longer.

But there’s little evidence that when the Broncos make it to third-and-manageable — four yards or less for a first down — they can convert for a first down.

In five games, Denver has rushed the ball five times in third-and-manageable, converting just twice. They are dead last in the league in converting by running the ball on third-and-1, which they’re doing at a 33.33 percent clip.

Passing the ball on third-and-manageable has been even more ineffective for Denver, converting for a first down on just three of 12 plays.

Fangio said that after five games he has “no qualms” with offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur, “other than our results haven’t been good enough.”

“We have to find a way to fix that,” Fangio said.

Perhaps No. 1 on the “to-do” list is addressing the offense in third-and-manageable situations.


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Broncos need more from offense on third-and-manageable