Offense hurting Broncos’ chances

The Denver Broncos are struggling.

I know that. You know that. Everybody remotely in touch with National Football League goings-on knows that.

It’s interesting to listen to the talking heads who dissect every aspect of the team, especially those who witness the team’s efforts only every other blue moon.

After Sunday’s blowout at the hands of the Chargers, all I heard was chatter about how the Bronco defense was so good for the first six games, so bad the last four.

Duh.

I submit to you — if you haven’t figured it out already — the problem isn’t the defense. It’s the other side of the ball. Denver’s offense, for a variety of reasons, has been TERRRRRIBLE.

And the lack of offense has spilled over to the other side.

Let’s examine:

The Broncos averaged 368 yards per game in winning their first six. Their lowest effort in that stretch was a 302-yard output in the opening win over Cincinnati.

In losing their past four games, they have averaged 254 yards, with their highest output 305 yards in their loss to the Redskins. In the three other losses, they totaled 200, 242 and 271.

In going 0-4, the Broncos have had possession of the ball for 100 minutes. The opponents, on the other hand, have had the ball 140 minutes.

Those numbers may not seem like much, but that 40-minute differential is almost a full game.

The reasons for the lack of possession are many.

Denver has been penalized often, mostly for mental mistakes of offside or illegal procedure. The Broncos have turned the ball over eight times in the past four games and come up with only two turnovers. And on a really ugly note, the Broncos have scored touchdowns only once when in the red zone in those four games.

All of those things mean Denver’s defense is going to wear down. And it has.

The Broncos have to keep the ball longer if they hope to win any of their remaining six games, starting tonight with the New York Giants the foe at New Mile High. (Careful, TV viewers; it’s one of those NFL Network games and not available on Fox, CBS or ESPN.)

Luckily for Denver, the Giants are not what they once were. Matter of fact, they have been eerily similar to Denver this year. They started off 5-0, then lost four straight before nipping Atlanta on Sunday 34-31 in overtime at home.

The Giants have not been good on the road, losing 48-27 at New Orleans and 40-17 at Philadelphia in their past two road contests. Coach Tom Coughlin said Sunday after his team gave up another big point total to the Falcons he was concerned about his defensive unit that was, just two years ago, the scourge of the NFL.

If you think back those two years to a Giant Super Bowl win, you surely remember incredible pressure from the front four on New England quarterback Tom Brady.

That hasn’t been the case this year.

According to Scouts Inc. of ESPN, defensive ends Justin Tuck and Osi Umenyiora, two of the league’s best pass rushers, have spent far too much time dropping back into pass coverage and not enough pushing toward the quarterback. Both of these players have been among league leaders in sacks the last several years, but this year Tuck has only 41⁄2 and Umenyiora has 5.

Although the Giants rank second in the league in total defense, allowing just more than 280 yards per game, they have given up 350 yards per game over their past five after allowing only 214 yards per game their first five games.

Hence the big question to mull as you munch on your turkey: Can the Broncos, banged up and beaten up of late, break out of their offensive slump and keep Giant defenders reeling?

I’ll take my 8-2 record picking with or against and say it won’t happen. The Denver offense, now hitched to the bum ankle of quarterback Kyle Orton, has problems that run too deep.

New York 27, Denver 17.


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