3 takeaways from the Broncos’ Week 7 loss | Launderer report


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    Ron Schwane / Associated press

    The Denver Broncos are on a downward spiral fueled by poor offense and questionable defensive play.

    Denver suffered its fourth straight loss Thursday night at the expense of the Cleveland Browns, who entered the game with one of the NFL’s most serious injury lists.

    Vic Fangio’s team had no response to Cleveland’s hasty attack, led by third-string backer Ernest Johnson, and they couldn’t find a proper response through the quarterback. -rear Teddy Bridgewater.

    Denver played from behind for 57 minutes and 40 seconds, and he didn’t enter the board until midway through the third quarter.

    The Broncos have 10 days to assess everything that has gone wrong over the past four weeks. There’s a bit of a breather in the schedule, with three NFC East teams coming in before Week 11. But if Denver can’t beat a Cleveland offense with its backup quarterback and third-string running back, it might be difficult to find wins against the Washington Soccer Team, Dallas Cowboys and Philadelphia Eagles.

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    Ron Schwane / Associated press

    Denver shouldn’t have been surprised that Cleveland’s offensive line opened some holes for D’Ernest Johnson. Cleveland offensive line coach Bill Callahan has been in the NFL for several decades, and the Broncos should have been prepared for a schedule suited to a third-string running back.

    Even though the Broncos struggled early on, they should have made the proper adjustments in the second half to keep Johnson from beating them. After all, Fangio is one of the best defensive minds in the NFL. Instead, Johnson ran for 146 yards on 22 carries and gave the Broncos no chance of a win from behind in the fourth quarter.

    Denver had a small window open in the fourth quarter, when Johnson’s decisive run on the third down was quashed by an illegal movement penalty. The foul didn’t hurt Cleveland as Johnson ran eight yards for a first down to finish the game in the next game. It was just one of the instances where Denver’s top seven were beaten by the offensive line of Cleveland in four quarters.

    The Broncos had no answer for Johnson from the start. Cleveland’s third stringer started the game with 20- and 10-yard carries before opening the scoring on a four-yard rush.

    Denver has now allowed over 100 rushing yards in three of its last four games. He started the season holding three opponents 75 yards or less rushing.

    After Thursday, it’s obvious Denver’s 3-0 record was the result of playing against the New York Giants, Jacksonville Jaguars and New York Jets to open the campaign. The Broncos have looked awful against teams not fighting for a top-five pick in the NFL Draft.

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    David Richard / Associated press

    Teddy Bridgewater led the Broncos to an average of 16 points per game during the four-game losing streak.

    Bridgewater’s game worsened during the losing streak. He has five interceptions in the last three games. And he was sacked at least twice in each of the team’s seven games to open the 2021 campaign.

    Thursday also marked the third time in the losing skid when Bridgewater completed less than 70 percent of his passes. He completed 76 percent or more of his passes during September’s three-game winning streak.

    Most of Bridgewater’s 187 passing yards came in the second half as the Broncos continued in the game. He landed a touchdown pass to Melvin Gordon III in the third quarter and another to Javonte Williams in the fourth. In fact, the majority of Bridgewater’s touchdown passes have been in the second half over the past four games. Denver has scored two first-half touchdowns during that span.

    Bridgewater can’t just keep showing numbers in return or waste efforts. He has to be a lot better in the first half or else his job could be called into question, which has been a familiar refrain in Denver since Peyton Manning retired in 2016.

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    Ron Schwane / Associated press

    Gordon and Williams played well in their half offensive backs.

    The two full-backs showed their versatility in the passing game by registering a touchdown on reception every Thursday.

    Denver’s running backs were Bridgewater’s best targets in the second half because Courtland Sutton and Tim Patrick were stopped by the Cleveland defensive backs. Sutton had 12 receiving yards in Denver’s last practice.

    Gordon and Williams found a way to contribute to the offense on a night when ground play was ineffective. Denver ran 41 yards on 14 carries. The Broncos abandoned the race in the second half as they continued to advance.

    Williams was the better of the two rushing backs on Thursday, averaging five yards per carry on his four rushing touches. Gordon had eight carries for 20 yards.

    For seven weeks there is a small difference between Gordon and Williams in the racing categories. Williams has more receptions, but Gordon leads by 10 receiving yards.

    If Denver finds out about his passing game, he could have one of the best balanced attacks in the league due to Gordon and Williams’ split time performance.

    Statistics obtained from Professional football benchmark.

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