The Real Problem for the Denver Broncos

The Denver Broncos announced this week that former first round pick Paxton Lynch will serve as the backup to Brock Osweiler in the Broncos Week 11 match up with the Cincinnati Bengals.  Former starter Trevor Siemian will now be the 3rd quarterback as the Denver Broncos continue to search for answers to their offensive sputter.

Through the first 11 weeks of this season the Broncos rank 20th in total offense and 26th in scoring. This is an unacceptable trend for an offense that has arguably the most dynamic duo of wide receivers in the league in Demariyus Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders, who have a combined 7 pro bowls, over 14,000 receiving yards, and 87 touchdowns.

To compliment these wide receivers the Broncos utilize former pro bowl running backs CJ Anderson and Jamaal Charles as well as youngster Devontae Booker. All of this individual offensive talent with proven track records of production in the NFL leaves coaches and fans with only a couple of options for why this offense cannot move the ball or score.

The first question of course is always the quarterback. As I wrote a couple of weeks ago, Siemian was good in wins and bad in losses. He had regressed from September to October and the perceived lack of pedigree in his development may have been his downfall. As a 7th round pick, he was never supposed to be “the guy”.

Brock Osweiler was supposed to be that guy. General Manager John Elway offered Osweiler a 3 year contract worth more than 45 million dollars after Super Bowl 50 and Peyton Manning’s subsequent retirement. He turned down that contract for more money from the Houston Texans and his career has been in a free fall ever since. Although he has regained the starting position for now, many in Broncos Country feel he is merely keeping the seat warm for when the Broncos do decide to give Paxton Lynch a real shot at the job.

In 2016 after injuries sidelined starter Trevor Siemian, Lynch was briefly given the opportunity to start but left coaches and fans feeling dissatisfied with the results. In the three games Lynch completed 59% of his passes for just 2 touchdowns and 1 interception. The general feeling was he needed more time to develop.

Now that he has had another year in the NFL it is time to find out if Paxton Lynch was worthy of his first round status. Unfortunately for Broncos fans the lack of talent or experience at the quarterback position may actually be only the second biggest need to fill in order to produce more yards and more points.

The biggest question for the Denver Broncos over the past 3 seasons has been and continues to be the offensive line. Even in Peyton Manning’s final season, the offensive line was mediocre at best for a majority of the season but found their stride as the Broncos began their Super Bowl run.

Football games are won and lost in what is known as “the trenches”. Offensive versus defensive line is the most important battle of any football game. Look no further then the Cowboys-Falcons game in Week 10 for evidence. Replace one All-Pro left tackle in Tyron Smith with an inexperienced Chaz Green and look at the results.

Falcon’s defensive end Adrian Clayborn was able to sack Cowboy’s quarterback Dak Prescott 6 times and the Cowboys offense was nearly completely shut down. The Cowboys were missing All Pro Ezekiel Elliott as well, but the their inability to block up front was the true difference in the game.

If the Broncos want to fix their offensive woes, they must finally address the issue of their inconsistent offensive line. Without time to throw or lanes to run through, all those Pro Bowl caliber offensive players will continue to be shut down and it won’t matter who is taking the snaps at quarterback.

A former college football player and lifelong fan committed to providing unique insight into NFL story lines and statistical analysis.