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Evaluating Denver's Offensive Struggles

Fans are pulling their hair out, trying to understand Denver's offensive struggles. Is it personnel? Coaching? Or execution? Adam Uribes examines.

Offensive football is offending many fans of late, with the Denver Broncos running in neutral. From poor offensive line play, to injuries and now questions at the quarterback position, the Broncos enter Week 10 taking a hard look at themselves to see if they can fix their problems.

When situations like this arise, it’s important to examine them critically and decipher whether it's a scheme issue for the Broncos — a lack of creative play-calling, inconsistent management in certain situations. If not, then it is likely an execution issue where the offense as a whole isn’t making plays when called upon. From lineman not holding blocks long enough, backs running through the wrong hole, and Trevor Siemian not finding the right read on the field, it's all adding up to an inconsistent showing from the offense.

Monday, Head Coach Gary Kubiak shared his thoughts on the problem.

“We have to find some consistency," Kubiak said. "[That] is what we have to do. We ran 50 plays last night. Six yards a play, you would think that’s good when you look at football statistics, but the problem is there’s no consistency through the course of the game.

"In quarters 1 and 3, I think in those two quarters we ran 12 plays and had the ball for less than three minutes of a 30-minute situation. It’s consistency, staying on the field. You look early in the game, a couple of drops, a couple of things going on that we just have to find a way to stay on the football field. They ran 80 plays—we ran 50 in the game. That doesn’t bode well for your football team.”

Coach Kubiak and offensive coordinator Rick Dennison are known for scripting the first 15 plays of the game. It hasn't been working, leading Kubiak to answer uncomfortable questions about whether the offense would move away from the scripted aspect he prefers. 

“You look at the beginning of the game, we have some issues going on, some assignment issues," Kubiak replied. "We dropped two balls that could have gotten going early in the game. Our field position was very, very poor. We didn’t execute our plan on special teams so it’s a concern. It’s a big concern. Trying to be consistent through the course of the game. Get your snaps so that you can go out there and have a chance to make plays to win games. Getting 50 snaps in the game puts a lot of pressure on you to make some big plays and we did make some, but we were behind and too little, too late.”

Some pundits have questioned whether the Broncos even have the personnel this year to run Kubiak's offense, especially following the loss of C.J. Anderson. Kubiak touched on the notion and whether personnel is holding back the Denver attack. Do they need a change at quarterback? Is Kapri Bibbs being overlooked as a possible difference maker? “I think we have the guys," Kubiak resolved. "We just need to stay focused on what we’re doing. I believe in our people, I believe in what we’re doing. It’s been good enough six times and not good enough three times. I stay focused on that. There’s a lot of football left to play. We just have to keep battling and that’s what I’m going to do [and that’s what] they’re going to do and get better at what we’re doing.”

Losing, in last week's case to the hated division rival, leads to introspection. What can be done to get the ship headed in the right direction? Although the offense has looked efficient in spurts, it was a major reason why the team couldn’t keep up with the Oakland Raiders on Sunday night. Too many times, the defense produced stops that the offense failed to capitalize on.

In a game where Oakland imposed its will on the Denver defense, the team still was just one score down going into the fourth quarter. It is a far too easy solution to say that with one small tweak here or an adjustment there, the offense should find its way and hold its own weight. The reality is, there's more to Denver's struggles than one single issue.

It’s not just a matter of who the 11 players are on offense during a given play, or what the play call is going to be, but rather a collective effort that has been missing in Denver's three ugly losses. With the defense being banged up and now losing Derek Wolfe for an extended period of time, Coach Kubiak and his staff need to find the balance between strategy and effort quickly, if they hope to go into their bye week with a win and a modicum of momentum.

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

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