Denver Broncos: Joe Flacco, offense lead comedy of errors in loss
The Denver Broncos were embarrassed on their home field by the Kansas City Chiefs, and their offense was the worst it has been in recent memory.
The Denver Broncos, aided by some penalties called on the Kansas City Chiefs defense, went up 6-0 on an early touchdown drive capped off by a Royce Freeman run. The Chiefs were offside on the extra point attempt, so the Broncos attempted to go for two points.
They didn't get it. They took a point off the board and didn't score the rest of the game.
From that point on, it was backup quarterback Matt Moore, a guy who was called out of retirement by Andy Reid while working his first year in the Miami Dolphins scouting department, running the show.
It wasn't that the Broncos' defense had no answer for Moore. The defense actually played fine save for one play by Moore to Tyreek Hill resulting in a long touchdown. It was the offense and special teams for the Broncos that were especially terrible in this game.
Barring a late window-dressing score, the six points mustered by this wheezing Denver attack is the fewest the Broncos have EVER scored in any of their 71 home prime-time games (per @pfref).
- Andrew Mason (@MaseDenver) October 18, 2019
In particular, Joe Flacco was terrible, uninspired, lackadaisical, seemingly nonchalant, and a complete statue in the pocket.
It didn't help that Flacco was playing behind an offensive line that was giving up constant pressure at the tackle positions. Garett Bolles was called for another handful of holding penalties while Elijah Wilkinson was bullied at right tackle.
Denver's inability to slow down the Chiefs' pass rush was made way worse by Flacco's ineptitude in the pocket, and his ineptitude in the pocket was made far worse by the lack of urgency he showed in general.
Flacco is known for not getting too high or too low emotionally but as the leader of this team, his low energy bled painfully to the rest of the offense, and the Chiefs basically just dared the Broncos to throw in this game like they were playing a rookie quarterback with no experience.
And Flacco looked way worse than that.
He refused to step up in the pocket. He refused to take yardage the defense freely gave him when man coverage held up. Flacco's accuracy was all over the place in this game, and the lack of accuracy with the football resulted in missed first downs, missed big plays, and generally no consistency to the offense.
Even Troy Aikman, who was calling the game for FOX, wound up making a comment that the Broncos' offense is one of the worst he's seen, and I wasn't sure if he meant ever or just this season.
The Broncos' ineptitude offensively created bad situations for the defense, and ultimately, the defense 'broke' for the first time in a few weeks with the touchdown play to Tyreek Hill that appeared to come on a broken play or at least just a pretty incredible play by Matt Moore to avoid pressure.
Flacco didn't match Moore's energy, but he wasn't alone in the struggle on Denver's offense.
Noah Fant struggles
Rookie tight end Noah Fant had at least two blatant drops in this game, one on a ball that was actually thrown quite well by Joe Flacco that would have put the Broncos in scoring position before the half. The second one was a bad throw by Flacco but a ball Fant has to go and catch. The third close call was on a play where officials initially threw a flag for pass interference but picked the flag up.
Fant's struggles this season were sort of simmering at the surface for me, but they boiled over in this game and it was ugly. He was not strong at the catch point and now has to dig himself out of a huge hole.
A vintage performance for Bolles
Another former first-round pick, left tackle Garett Bolles, has managed to keep his name out of the news in a negative way for a few weeks. His game against the Chiefs was absolutely ugly, one of the worst he's ever played, and that might be saying something.
Bolles was up to his typical antics of getting called for a holding penalty and acting like he did nothing wrong when he had clearly just tackled a guy to the ground.
The crazy thing is, Bolles' holding isn't working, because Joe Flacco was sacked in this game nine times and Bolles was the culprit in pass protection on a number of those.
The Broncos made changes with a guy like Isaac Yiadom at corner when he was struggling this badly with penalties. You have to wonder how much longer the team is going to put up with Bolles' ineptitude and unwillingness to admit his mistakes.
The infamous fake punt
Perhaps the worst play in this game was a fake punt by the Broncos early on in which they sent a receiver in motion before the snap. Talk about telegraphing a fake.
The Broncos are now 2-5 on the season and after winning two straight games, the Chiefs losing Mahomes early in this one and already having a ton of key players out with injuries, it's astounding this was the best effort they could put forth.
Everything you could list as a bad play or situation created by a team in a game happened to the Broncos, probably just in the first half of this game.
It was as bad of a performance as you could have drawn up at the most critical juncture of the season.
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