Three numbers to know for Broncos-Texans
ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Good things happened when Andrew Beck went to work on Monday.
It took little time for him to get going, of course. Russell Wilson’s first three pass attempts as a Bronco were to the fourth-year tight end/fullback/H-back/special teamer. Two of them represented two of the four longest gains of the Broncos’ Week 1 loss: receptions of 25 and 27 yards.
But it wasn’t just about his work on those plays — or when he caught a touchdown pass that a Courtland Sutton false-start infraction negated. He delivered as a blocker too. And by the time the night ended, the Broncos averaged 13 yards per pass play and 9.2 yards per snap when Beck lined up.
He played just 10 snaps. But his work screamed for greater use.
And that’s where the first number this week comes:
The Broncos averaged a robust 6.7 yards per attempt on the 6 rushes during which Beck took part last Monday.
“Make sure you tell everybody that, too,” Beck said, smiling, before adding, “I’m just kidding.”
But what is serious is how far Beck, a college tight end, has come as a fullback since he joined the Broncos in 2019.
“It’s something I enjoy doing It’s something I’m continuing to work on, doing a great job working with the coaches — and the backs, as well. They do a great job of helping me out,” Beck said. “It’s cool that everything doesn’t have to come from the coaching staff. Other players give me little pointers here and there, as well.”
The pointers Beck receives from Javonte Williams, Melvin Gordon and the coaches are technical:
“Hey, if you fit him up here, we’re going to be all right,’ or departure angles and path — those are big coaching points. Especially in the zone run game, it’s a lot of angles and tracks and stuff like that, stuff that they have to teach me,” Beck said. “Those guys have been doing it for a long time. If I can pick up on the little nuances that they know, it’s just going to make our offense better.”
Points per game accounted for by Houston’s offense in eight road games last season. Five of eight away contests saw the Texans offense stuck in single digits.
Four of eight road games last year saw Houston unable to generate a touchdown.
Home games were better, but the Texans still lagged in almost every offensive indicator. And their work in Week 1 didn’t show much sign of improvement.
Last week, the promise of the Texans’ first three quarters went up in smoke during the fourth quarter and overtime. With 10:44 left in regulation, Houston led 20-6. The Texans had six more possessions in the game. One saw a kneeldown. The other five had a combined net yardage of 24 — a meager 4.8 net yards per possession. Houston defenestrated itself with four penalties — two false starts (both accepted) and two illegal shifts (both declined) and a pair of sacks allowed.
As in one mulligan.
Maybe I’m getting way too soft in my middle age, but when it comes to game management, I’m giving the Broncos’ new staff a mulligan … but if we see ridiculous snafus again, then it becomes a worrisome pattern, as I discuss with @DMacRadio and @jamesmerilatt: pic.twitter.com/0HETIY4KtV
— Andrew Mason (@MaseDenver) September 17, 2022
The Broncos’ previous two head coaches struggled with game management. And while it fell behind “quarterback” in the list of reasons for their eventual dismissal, potential wins became defeats too often in recent years for a team that thad no margin for error. In 2018, for example, the Broncos bungled chances for home wins over Houston and Cleveland by mangling game management in the final two minutes of regulation. And twice in 2020, misuse — or non-use — of timeouts meant that the Broncos bookended the season with losses that ended in the same way: left with too little time or opportunity for a potential game-winning drive in the final seconds.
And now we come to the new era under Nathaniel Hackett. For all that happened in the first 59 minutes, the lingering images of the defeat revolve around a questionable end-game plan — apparent satisfaction with a 64-yard field-goal attempt. Two delay-of-game penalties in the game also didn’t help.
If this day becomes the outlier, no worries. It will be remembered as a necessary learning experience.
But if future games see game-management-and-process snafus, it will be understandable if Broncos Country feels as if it’s suffering from a bad case of déjà vu.