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Denver's Struggles On First Down Have Been A Point Of Emphasis This Week

What must the Broncos do to overcome their struggles on first down?

For the last 10 days the Denver Broncos have heard many criticisms. Namely, why can’t the team get out of the gates faster?

The vaunted Denver defense has given up the most first-quarter points this year and the Broncos offense is also struggling to get on the board early  There's no doubt that the Houston Texans will come into town on Monday night looking to keep that pattern going and hoping to put the No Fly Zone on its heels.

The Broncos offense, under the leadership of head coach Gary Kubiak and offensive coordinator Rick Dennison, hasn’t been excused from criticism either, as they have looked pedestrian moving the football in the last two defeats to Atlanta and San Diego. Bad breaks, poor execution, and injuries have all played a part in the lack of offensive production lately, but the Broncos will be at their healthiest since the start of the season after the mini-bye.

http://www.scout.com/nfl/broncos/story/1719434-go-premium-sports-illustr... On Friday, Coach Kubiak expressed concern over where his unit is right now. With a young quarterback still finding consistency in Trevor Siemian, Kubiak pointed to better production on first down as an area of improvement. 

“I wish I knew. I could tell you the exact reason," Kubiak said. "We were really good on first down for about three weeks into the season. I think we were top four or five teams in first down plays. Now all of a sudden you go two or three weeks and you go to the bottom. That’s a big down in this league, if not, you’re probably not making third downs and those are kind of hand-in-hand, but we have to find a way to get more plays."

Coach Kubiak would continue on about the importance of first down and putting together scoring drives.

“Like I say, if you’ re not making first downs and staying on the field then you’ re going to get out of whack. We have to just be better with our time and what we’re getting. Obviously we need to get some more time early in the games to do something with it so those things go hand in hand.”

Coach Dennison would agree that getting first downs is important to the team’s success but would also add what he thought of Denver's skill-position players and how they could help get the offense out of its funk. 

“Making plays," Dennison said. "There’s a lot of things that get involved and we haven’t done any of them yet, haven’t done much of them. We have to make plays on first down. That’s the bottom line. You have to move the ball and first down is a big thing. That’s where we’ve really gone down in the last couple of weeks.”

http://www.scout.com/nfl/broncos/story/1719958-3-keys-to-victory-broncos... Earlier this week, Von Miller touched on the defense’s performance in giving up so many points on the opening possession by pointing out that it doesn’t just impact the defense but hinders all the other units on the team.

“Hopefully we’ll be able to get that figured out this week," Miller said. "Touchdowns on the first drive, they kill momentum. They kill momentum for the defense and they kill momentum for the offense. You back that up with a score on our first drive and the offense is three and out, we’re already starting behind the ball as far as positioning when the game starts. We would like to keep the game a little bit closer, ride that neck and neck and continue to play the type of Denver Broncos football we’ve been playing for the last year now.”

Denver has had more than a week and half to figure out what is ailing them. With just about every key starter back, aside from linebacker DeMarcus Ware, and getting their head coach and play caller returning, Denver is in great position going into the next third of season.

Monday night's game hearkens back to the situation last season with the Green Bay Packers coming to town. The Broncos were winning, but had shown some holes in the armor during that time, with many experts pointing to Aaron Rodgers as being the player who would expose the defense for what it truly was.

What ended up happening? The Broncos would play their most complete game of the year, throttling the Packers and knocking them from the ranks of the undefeated. Rodgers had arguably the worst game of his career. 

Look for this team to count on its veteran experience and championship pedigree to figure out how to get out of its current slide and back into the win column come Monday night. 

Adam Uribes is an Analyst for Mile High Huddle. You can find him on Twitter @auribes37.

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