Eleven is something about the Broncos as they return to action in Tennessee and are looking to build on the previous week’s win in London.
1. If you’re looking for one stat turnaround that could boost Denver, keep in mind that the Broncos are No. 31 in the NFL in third-division conversion rate. Even that doesn’t do justice to the struggle. In the past decade, only three NFL teams have finished an entire season with a score worse than Denver’s current mark of 29.2%.
2. “Conceptually, we have to be a little bit smarter insofar as, looking around the league, you see a lot more area coverage rather than men (at third) coverage,” offensive coordinator Justin Otten said. He identified one focus of the staff as “taking advantage of those positions and conceptual versatility, where you can have a man-batsman and an area beater at the same time.”
3. On a manageable third play, the Broncos struggle thanks to a combination of a lack of timing and rhythm in their passing game and lack of a consistent rushing offense. The easiest way to keep running drives in third is to have call play options, but even that hasn’t helped Denver so far.
4. Well, it’s not exactly rocket science here, but if you miss the third landing too often, it makes it harder to cover the drives in points. Denver is the NFL’s 28th in this division, having hit just 28% of its possessions so far this season, according to Pro Football Reference. This is despite the Broncos holding one of the lowest turnover rates (8.6% of possessions) in the game.
5. RUSSELL WILSON’S WRIST MAY HELP THINGS. This is just bunk, but for all the hype that’s been made about Pete Carroll’s Word Wilson comments, having a few more mandatory play calls organized by number seems to make sense for Wilson and head coach Nathaniel Hackett. Plenty of NFL quarterbacks wear a wrist strap, including Hackett’s last man, Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers.
6. “As a stage designer, sometimes you want to get a little creative and these things can get a little verbose,” Hackett said. … “Sometimes we talk a little bit about this stuff because sometimes we try to get a little crazy. So, he’s letting you do that. I think it also helps take out the crowd noise. If you’ve got crowd noise, he’s listening to me, it’s Just hearing one wrist number, and then he can go out there and communicate with the guys properly. There’s a lot of different things that go with it.”
7. Now that the Broncos hold their 2023 first-round pick San Francisco, it’s only natural that they’ll be watching the Bay Area through the rest of the season to see where they stand. Denver has really done its part to help boost the value of this pick, beating the 49ers earlier in the season.
8. This weekend, though, brings a little Catch-22 for Broncos fans. Playing San Francisco against the Chargers, who are 5-3 is one of several teams between Denver and a potential long-distance playoffs. So either Los Angeles gets another win or the Broncos’ draft value goes down Sunday night. Who do you have? It probably depends on what’s going on in Nashville.
9. Last week we had a chance to catch a glimpse of Sunday’s episode of “Peyton’s Places,” part of Peyton Manning’s Omaha Productions empire. This one shows Manning and Wilson talking about the latter’s baseball career. Wilson was, of course, a 2010 MLB draft pick for the Colorado Rockies. It’s a nice 20 minutes, featuring some hitting practice, two star athletes talking and an account of what NC State football coach Tom O’Brien told Wilson he couldn’t go back to the Wolfpack because of his insistence on pursuing baseball. Excuse me.
10. Actually, the show isn’t entirely about Wilson’s baseball career. Manning proudly notes that he hit . 440 as a high school senior at Isadore Newman in Louisiana. Perhaps Wilson was the ring line when Manning took hitting practice at Coors Field, likening the Hall of Fame team’s swing to “poor man’s Craig Counsell.”
11. The second half of the season has arrived and with it comes a more normal schedule for the Broncos. Eight consecutive Sundays before the usual flexibility of the final weekend. Even with back-to-back time spent in the Eastern Time Zone on flights to the Carolinas and Baltimore, it should have a more standard feel. Now, what would the field part look like?