Two weeks ago the Denver Broncos limped out of the 27,000 seat Stubhub Center in Los Angeles having suffered their first shutout defeat since 1992.
The next week on Monday Night Football the result from Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City was eerily similar for Broncos fans.
While Denver’s offense did put up a few points in their most recent 29-19 loss, for those who watched it was obvious from the beginning that the Broncos offense and special teams could do nothing to help their exceptional defense. Field position, poor offensive line play, poor quarterback play and no offensive spark plagued the Broncos throughout both contests.
Many Broncos fans are now questioning whether the performance of the quarterback merits benching, which based on his performance in Denver’s four losses this season is understandable (2 TD, 8 INT, 62.6 Rating).
Trevor Siemian has regressed this October. He has thrown just three touchdowns to six interceptions and has been sacked 16 times after a September filled with hope, when his rating was 87.5 with 6 touchdowns and 4 interceptions.
While the offense has been hard to watch lately, it always seems as if the Broncos are one big play from being right back in the game.
Tight End AJ Derby fumbled after picking up a first down early in the first half against the Chargers.
In the same game Demariyus Thomas was called back after a long reception due to offensive pass interference, and the running game without the deep threat of Emmanuel Sanders this week, struggled with 69 yards on 19 carries.
Against the Chiefs Jamaal Charles fumbled on the first possession after picking up a couple first downs and Emmanuel Sanders missed his second straight game due to injury, crippling the vertical threat of Denver’s passing attack.
The answer to Denver’s offensive sputter may not be found with the changing of the guard at quarterback.
Siemian is good in wins (7 TD, 2 INT, 64% completion), and his stats in the recent loss to Los Angeles surpassed those of the great Philip Rivers in terms of completion percentage and yards.
The Broncos difficult schedule cannot be discounted either.
Searching for other solutions, the key to this Broncos season may be found in the back hallways of Dove Valley, Colorado, where a former college star has been lurking in the background, waiting for his moment to be medically cleared from an ACL tear in the 2016 Orange Bowl.
Jake Butt was the 2016 John Mackey award winner for Most Outstanding Tight End in the Nation and a two-time Big 10 Conference Tight End of the year award winner.
During his senior season at Michigan he was voted team captain, and the Wolverines started the year 8-0 and went on to finish the year 10th in both the AP and Coaches Poll’s, the first time the school finished in the top 10 in both polls since 2006.
A two time All-American, he is the all time leader in receptions and receiving yards for a tight end in Michigan school history. Before he tore his ACL for a second time playing in a meaningless bowl game, the 6 foot 6 blue chip prospect could have been a first round selection in the 2017 NFL draft.
After the injury he fell to the Broncos in the fifth round and has been rehabbing and regaining his elite form ever since.
Jake Butt has been cleared to practice for the Broncos this week. It is thought his role will not be immediately impactful, but what is obvious is that the Broncos need an offensive spark. Sometimes the key to fixing a problem is finding an internal solution so as not to disrupt the rhythm and timing that has been gained between a quarterback and his receivers (mainly Thomas and Sanders). Maybe all that is missing is a dynamic, Gronk-like presence in the middle of the field, to open up running lanes, which in turn opens up the play action passing game. The key to the Broncos season may have been in front of us all along. Per league rules, once he begins practice the Broncos have a twenty one day window to designate a roster spot for him or he will be shut down for the rest of the season. The decision is yours Mr. Elway.