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Denver Broncos rightfully worried about red zone efficiency

Dennis Best Avatar
December 14, 2015


The Denver Broncos lost a close game to the division rival Oakland Raiders 15-12 here in the Mile High city and both the team and the fans are not happy with the outcome. After the dust has settled and Broncos fans have had time to grieve, it is time to start asking the looming question; How did this loss happen?

It could have been any number of things, but when it all comes down to it, turnovers and the lack of red zone efficiency are killing the Broncos.

“That’s what happened in the game. We had a couple turnovers,” Broncos star wide receiver Demaryius Thomas said after the loss. “They scored on one of them. Me and tight end Vernon Davis had a drop on third down where we should have converted. It’s just stuff we’ve got to go back to the drawing table, stay after to catch more—whatever we’ve got to do.”

It was not even all on Thomas making mistakes Sunday. “The ball was thrown, I got super excited because I knew I was going to be wide open, took my eyes off the ball and wasn’t able to pull it in,” Davis said postgame. “I should know better than that. I’ve got to get better.”

Denver failed to score an offensive touchdown for the third time this season and players are not happy with the way their team played after they got past the 20.

“It’s frustrating. It’s very frustrating,” Davis stated. “I think going out there; we could’ve done a better job as far as getting points, especially when we were in the red zone.”

Twice in the first half the Broncos were within the Raiders 20. Each time, Brock Osweiler threw high to a receiver, and each time receivers dropped the ball.

“It didn’t go our way today, Davis continued. “Like I tell everybody else, it starts in practice. We get another opportunity to get back in practice and correct some of the things that we weren’t able to do out there today. We’ve just got to keep our heads up and keep moving forward.”

Davis is not the only tight end wearing orange and blue to feel the frustration in the end zone.

“I can’t give you any great, detailed answer at this point. My look on it is we have to run the ball better down there,” fellow tight end Owen Daniels told reporters. “It has always been our job to run the ball well down there because that helps things out. A lot of times, they will sit back and play coverage so we have to run it and that will help things out. When it comes down to it, it comes down to execution and we just didn’t quite get it in the end zone.”

Wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders was also vocal about the red zone. “Yeah, I mean in the first half, the game could have been over. I guess that we are going to continuously work on our red zone.”

The best opportunity of the day came late in the first half when quarterback Brock Osweiler overthrew tight end Virgil Green had to settle for Brandon McManus field goal; McManus provided all of Denver’s 12 points on the day.

“That’s one of those plays where I was telling you guys before, I have to make it,” Osweiler said. “Virg was open in the back of the end zone. There’s clearly a lane to throw a touchdown pass and I missed it. That’s one of those things that we’ll learn from tomorrow–I will learn from tomorrow when we watch the tape. I’ll make sure that doesn’t happen again.”

The defense held Oakland to a total of -12 yards in the first half, the fewest since 1991 and did their best to steal a victory, but came up just short.

“Defensive wise, we played great,” cornerback Chris Harris Jr. said. “I don’t know how many yards they had, we shut them down. The only thing we didn’t do today was get turnovers, so I’m just going to worry about our defense, what we can do to continue to get better and the only thing we can do to get better is try to force turnovers.”

Denver had failed to score a touchdown in the last six quarters, that number will not be acceptable when the Broncos head to Pittsburgh to take on a Steelers squad fighting for their playoff lives.

Overall, Denver’s scored a touchdown on only 44.44 percent of drives this season as the 29th worst in the NFL in doing so. Even the league’s best defense can’t cover up how poorly the offense is scoring touchdowns. Red zone efficiency must increase now or the Broncos will win in the playoffs never.


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