Just think: a month ago the Broncos were 7-2 and cruising toward another playoff appearance when the Chiefs arrived at the Mile High City.
The Chiefs came away with a memorable, crazy 30-27 overtime win. Since that game, Denver has lost two of three, has an 8-6 record and is sitting on the outside of the playoffs.
Denver’s latest loss came at home Sunday to the New England Patriots. The 16-3 defeat followed a pattern: great defense, struggling offense. And the offensive troubles haven’t been lost on the Broncos defensive players.
Michael Silver of NFL.com reported that things got testy following the loss to the Patriots. Here is what Silver wrote:
When the beaten Broncos spilled into the locker room, before the door was opened to reporters and other outsiders, coach Gary Kubiak gathered his players and asked if anyone wanted to address the team. Veteran left tackle Russell Okung, who signed with the Broncos last March, stepped forward to speak, and cornerback Aqib Talib strongly objected. According to several witnesses, that set off a spirited shouting match between the team’s defensive backs and offensive linemen — one which Kubiak had to diffuse before it turned ugly.
“Pretty much your classic offense vs. defense divide,” as one Denver player described it.
So this is what’s going on with the Denver Broncos ahead of their game against the Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium on Christmas night.
In the NFL.com article, Broncos receiver Demaryius Thomas questioned some of the coaching decisions, and said the lack of scoring has bothered him. This is what he told Silver:
“It’s tough to see your blood brothers, guys you go to work with every day, get frustrated and air it out like that. You wish it wasn’t that way. But being as great a defense as they are, I can see why they’re frustrated. As an offensive player, you’ve gotta be frustrated, too — but then, at a certain point, it’s hard to be frustrated. ... You see the same thing for 14 weeks — we move the ball, move the ball, then get in the red area and we just fold. At some point, you just throw up your hands.”
Talib, the player who initially objected to Okung talking after the game, is a former Kansas player, as is fellow cornerback Chris Harris.
Harris told the Denver Post that watching the offensive struggle was frustrating:
“That’s what makes me sick, when we come out and play stout like we did. We just kill ourselves with penalties. Get in third-and-long situations and we can’t get out of them so we have to figure out how to stop having negative plays that kill those drives.”
Denver’s defense is ranked second in the NFL in yards allowed, first in passing defense and fourth in points allowed per game. The offense is ranked 21st in scoring, but has managed just 33 points in its last three games.
Denver trails the Chiefs (10-4) and Dolphins (9-5) in the wild-card chase, and the Broncos are currently tied with the Titans and Ravens with an 8-6 record. But linebacker Von Miller told the Denver Post there will not be any troubles going forward:
“There’s not going to be any friction. I’m the partition here. It’s just a tough loss. You’ve got grown men in here. We’ve got two big games left and I’m not going anywhere. I’ll be ready to go.”