On NFL: Is it time to panic over the Denver Broncos? The answer: yes
1. Patriots (5-2) … Kind of like the Energizer Bunny.
2. Eagles (6-1) … The team to beat in the NFC?
3. Steelers (5-2) … Dysfunctional, but winning.
4. Rams (5-2) … The team to beat in the NFC?
5. Chiefs (5-2) … Skidding now; still good.
1. Niners (0-7) … The sports editor is not happy.
2. Browns (0-7) … The misery continues.
3. Giants (1-6) … Yes, they still beat the Broncos.
4. Bengals (2-4) … Still the Bungles.
5. Colts (2-5) … Is Andrew Luck ever coming back?
OK, so where should Broncos fans be on the panic-o-meter after last week’s 21-0 loss to San Diego, er, Los Angeles Chargers?
The reason is pretty clear — the Broncos have quickly turned into a copy of last year’s team: Good defense and offensive ineptitude.
Here’s a startling stat: Denver has scored three touchdowns in its last four games.
After a good start, the rushing game has evaporated. Quarterback Trevor Siemian is running for his life (five sacks and six more hits last week). He’s not getting the time to throw some deep routes, which translates to opposing defenses to packing the box.
And while it’s tempting to take this out on Trevor — and we might — this is all about the offensive line. Left- and right-tackles Garrett Bolles and Menelik Watson were abused by the Chargers. It’s not like the rest of the unit distinguished themselves, but Bolles and Watson really stood out, and, let’s face it, if your offensive lineman are standing out, usually bad things are happening.
It is really looking like the Broncos are back to square one in the post-Peyton Manning Era after a false dawn during the first four weeks of the season.
And the schedule isn’t helping. Denver is at Kansas City, at Philadelphia and home for New England the next three weeks.
This might be a pretty good time to panic.
What to do?
• We have stipulated that the issue is the offensive line, but Siemian hasn’t exactly been helping himself. The second-year starter has thrown eight touchdowns and seven interceptions, not exactly an impressive ratio in a pass-happy league.
Now consider that four of those scores came against Dallas, a team whose defense is questionable. Eep.
When Siemian’s gotten a modicum of time — yes, a relative term — he hasn’t been particularly accurate. Broncos coach Vance Joseph has said that Siemian will start against the Chiefs this week.
Brock Osweiler is available. He’s bigger and has a better arm. John Elway never thought Siemian was the answer after Manning retired. The team was already transitioning to Osweiler during the Super Bowl 50 run. The Broncos’ game plan was to give Brock the keys when they resigned him.
Of course, Brock went to Houston — whoops — and Cleveland and is now back in the fold.
The Broncos are probably losing the next three with Siemian. Why not Brock?
• Denver offensive coordinator Mike McCoy’s been raked over the coals this week. It’s not surprising. Assistant coaches are usually first domino to tumble because you can’t fire the players. It’s not like McCoy said to the O-line, “Hey, fellas, don’t block this week,” before heading to San Diego, er, Los Angeles. It’s amazing how smart McCoy was when Manning was healthy.
But can he and the rest of the staff, perhaps, give the line a little help? Do we see some two tight-end sets? Can the Broncos move the pocket? If Siemian’s left shoulder is hindering his mobility, all the more reason for Osweiler.
• The defense needs to step up. This sounds ridiculous, I know. The current incarnation of Orange Crush is brilliant, but sometimes, the D just needs to make something happen. Create some turnovers, be they scoop-and-scores or pick-sixes.
• Remember when the Patriots were 2-2 and couldn’t play defense? This is why you never write off New England. I know if you’re not a Patriots fan — go Niners, oy — then you hate them. They must be respected.
• The Saints are leading the NFC South. Anyone see that coming? You’re lying if you’re raising your hand now.
• Are the Eagles for real? It’s hard to argue the negative after how Carson Wentz played against the Redskins. Speaking of Washington, mark it now. The Redskins are going to make a run before all of this is done. Its schedule has been brutal so far.
• How good is Aaron Rodgers? If they didn’t know before, then Packers fans are starting to find out.
On to Week 8.
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934, firstname.lastname@example.org and @cfreud.