Three observations from the Broncos loss to the Raiders in Week 6
The Denver Broncos faced AFC West division rival the Las Vegas Raiders at home in Week 6. The Raiders were supposed to be reeling from losing their head coach Jon Gruden amid controversy, and the Broncos were supposed to be able to take advantage of that. Instead, the Broncos suffered perhaps the most embarrassing loss of recent memory by a score of 34-24.
After the game, Broncos head coach Vic Fangio gave his summary of what went wrong.
“We didn’t play well enough, obviously. I think it came down to the deep balls on both sides of the ball. We had our chances to make some, particularly in the first half, and then we didn’t. We came close. When they had their chances to make them, they made them. We’ll work hard to get that rectified,” Fangio said.
Here are the top-three observations from the Broncos-Raiders game.
Back End Miscommunications
It seems like every week the Broncos are burned for a big play. The Raiders took only three minutes to score their first touchdown against the Broncos, a deep shot to second-year wide receiver Henry Ruggs.
Once again, it looked like there was a miscommunication in the secondary and you saw safety Justin Simmons trailing Ruggs as he went into the end zone. This is a common occurrence recently, and Simmons is getting a lot of flak for those errors. I believe some of those plays should not be on Simmons, and studying the film reveals a secondary that is not on the same page.
After the game, Fangio was asked about the big plays opponents have to open up games.
“All three of them that you’re talking about — the first drive of the game — have all been pretty much the same. We just have to get our depth and show up back there in the deep middle a little bit better,” Fangio said.
The third-year coach also admitted this is a problem that must be fixed.
“Well, it has to be fixable. I think that was maybe a point in the game when things were down the field, deep. They made the plays on both sides of the ball. Their defense — we didn’t make them on offense when we had our opportunities. They made them with their offense when they had their opportunities. I think that was a big part of the game,” Fangio said.
It’s Been Awhile
Entering Week 6, the Broncos had gone 24 games in a row without scoring a touchdown on their opening drive. Fangio said the team must have a sense of urgency to start things off against the Raiders and going forward.
The Broncos ended that streak with a pass from Teddy Bridgewater to Tim Patrick for a touchdown on the opening drive. The last time that happened was back in December of 2019 when Drew Lock hit Noah Fant for a touchdown. Fans will remember the play because Lock did his “Buzz Lightyear” touchdown celebration after the play.
Think of how much has changed since then. It’s too bad the good drive at the start of the game could not continue as things went on. As the Broncos fell behind, the Broncos passing attack fell apart. Normally safe with the ball, Bridgewater ended up throwing three interceptions to go along with his three touchdowns.
Bridgewater turned into “Teddy Turnover” in the comeback attempt against the Raiders. Fangio knows this is not who Bridgewater is as a quarterback.
“Teddy hasn’t been a turnover guy, part of that is when you fall behind and you’re throwing it a lot, that’s the risk you run. Once you become an unbalanced offense, the chance of throwing interceptions goes up and goes up. They went up in this game,” Fangio said.
Over the last few games, the Broncos offense has been able to get things going late. I hear it from fans all the time, and there is a wish that the team could look as good early as they do late in ball games.
That’s simply not going to happen.
It’s not likely to happen because those are hollow yards. The offense is able to move the ball through the air when the other team softens up their coverage. The offense can make plays when other teams call off the dogs and reduce the blitzes and the number of times Bridgewater is under duress.
Fangio admitted the late-game yards are hollow.
“I think we had a lot of yards today once the game became over a two-score game. So, a lot of those yards are a little hollow. We need to be a balanced offense to be an effective team,” Fangio said.