Broncos Update Insider - 9/21

The Denver Broncos lead the NFL in offensive yards gained by a wide margin, yet their scoring production has been unusually low. Read why Coach Mike Shanahan is unconcerned in today's Broncos Update Insider.

Speaking about any woes the Denver Broncos offense has after two games seems odd.

A quick look at the stats heading into Denver's Week 3 matchup against Jacksonville shows the Broncos have been dominant on offense this year. Their 455.5 yards per game is astonishing, 36.5 better than runner-up New England. Last year, New Orleans had the best offense in the NFL and averaged 391.5 yards per game.

Travis Henry leads the NFL in rushing yards. Jay Cutler is fourth in passing yards. Javon Walker is tied for the league lead in receptions.

And somehow, all that production has meant very little scoring.

Denver has only three touchdowns in two games. Even though the defense is also playing well, the Broncos have barely won each of their games. They are the first team since Green Bay in 2004 to win consecutive games on the final play.

The scoring problem is perplexing, but Broncos coach Mike Shanahan is unconcerned. The offense is gaining too many yards to continue to struggle with points.

"If you move the football like we did, eventually the points are going to come," Shanahan said. "I'd say if you're averaging 400 and something yards per game, and normally about 375 to 380 leads it, that you feel pretty good. But you want to score points, that's the nature of the game."

There's a few reasons Denver hasn't scored much. They've struggled a bit in the red zone. Not counting a trip inside the 20 against Oakland in which Denver kicked the game-winning overtime field goal on first down, they have scored two touchdowns in five trips.

Jason Elam has missed three field goals. Each miss came at the end of an extended drive. Add in a few turnovers, a touchdown by Brandon Marshall that was called back because of an offensive pass interference call, and Shanahan has his answers for why the points don't match the yards.

Shanahan doesn't expect the yards to dry up, so he's confident the points will come soon.

"You'd much rather be first in points than No. 1 in total offense, but usually they go pretty close to hand in hand," Shanahan said. "We have some work to do, but the positive side is we're doing some good things."

Without much question, the overall picture for the Broncos offense is bright. Cutler doesn't have much experience, and still makes some mistakes, but he has the absolute confidence of the coaching staff and has thrown the ball very well in two games. The Broncos love his ability to turn a negative play into something.

Henry is what the Broncos thought they were getting -- a workhorse back who will grind down a defense and get some long runs. Add in a trio of dangerous wideouts in Walker, Marshall and Brandon Stokley, and the Broncos will likely be near the top of the league in total offense all season.

And, given some more opportunities, they should rise in the scoring offense rankings as well.

"There's some positives out there, we just need to tune some stuff up but make some first downs on third downs and limit turnovers, and we'll start putting more points on the board," Cutler said.

NOTES, QUOTES --Broncos kicker Jason Elam was named the AFC's Special Teams Player of the Week. He kicked a game-tying field goal with a little more than two minutes remaining against Oakland, then won the game with a 23-yard field goal in overtime.

"I'm very appreciative of it," Elam said. "I'm just proud we're 2-0."

--Broncos tight end Daniel Graham played almost all of the game against Oakland, despite suffering from asthma the whole game. Broncos coach Mike Shanahan singled out Graham for his great blocking in that game. Graham was diagnosed with asthma in high school.

"He did a heck of a job considering he does have some asthma and for him to play a complete game and to be in motion as much as he was kind of gives you an idea of how important this is to him," Shanahan said.

--Jacksonville has struggled to run the ball this season, but the Broncos are wary of the Jaguars. Denver understands that Jacksonville will come alive in the running game very soon.

"They'll get back on track, hopefully not against us," Shanahan said.

--Broncos rookie defensive end Jarvis Moss is coming off a game in which he had a sack and a forced fumble. Moss, Denver's first-round pick, is happy with his role off the bench.

"I'm still learning and I'm still trying to pick up little things here and there, so as of right now I'm content what the coaches are doing with me," Moss said.

BY THE NUMBERS: 179.5 -- Average passing yards allowed by Denver and Jacksonville combined this season.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "I have to gain some of the veterans' trust. It takes time, and I think these last two games have helped me come along there." -- Broncos quarterback Jay Cutler.

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL

Twice this season the Broncos have signed offensive tackle Chad Mustard on Saturday, then cut him early the following week. Mustard is Denver's emergency plan on the line. The Broncos need one because guard Ben Hamilton (concussion) and tackle Ryan Harris (back) aren't healthy, leaving Chris Kuper as the only healthy backup lineman. The Broncos might need to call Mustard again this week because Hamilton and Harris aren't expected to return.

PLAYER PERSONNEL NOTES --CB Jeff Shoate has held his own as Denver's nickel cornerback. He has been the nickel back most of the first two games because of an injury to Domonique Foxworth. Although teams would likely target Shoate rather than Champ Bailey or Dre Bly, teams haven't gotten much against Shoate.

--OG Montrae Holland had some untimely penalties against Oakland. He still has more experience than the alternative, second-year guard Chris Kuper, but that competition was tight all offseason and Holland will have to continue to play well.

--FB Cecil Sapp has been splitting time with Mike Bell. Sapp's athleticism allows the Broncos to include some extra fullback plays in their game plan.

--FB Mike Bell has gotten plenty of time at fullback, including Denver's final drive in overtime Sunday, despite his inexperience at the position. Bell works hard and he can be dangerous on quick handoffs.

--TE Tony Scheffler hasn't played much this season. Because the Broncos are using more three-receiver sets with Brandon Stokley healthy, there have been few two tight-end sets and Nate Jackson has been the second tight end.





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