Broncos’ first-half struggles continue to weigh down a team trying to get back into contention

A lot has been made about the Broncos’ inability to finish games under coach Vic Fangio, but much of the team’s struggles this year stem from ice-cold starts.

The inability to find a first-half rhythm was on full display Sunday, when the Chargers dominated Denver early, building a 14-3 lead by halftime. That margin grew to 24-3 in the third quarter.  While the Broncos were able to erase that with an improbable fourth-quarter comeback, the slow start continued a trend. The Broncos have faced double-digit halftime deficits in three of their four losses.

So what gives for the poor starts, especially with the offense? Fangio doesn’t believe it’s an issue of mindset.

“Our guys come out ready to play,” Fangio said Monday. “It’s a little bit of everything (that’s the issue). As it relates to the offense, I think it’s the third-down stuff, too… Eventually when you’re running it well, you’re going to have to convert some third downs. That’s been a big problem for us. We got that solved in the last quarter-and-a-half yesterday. I don’t know that it’s solved permanently, but it’s a big part of what’s been holding us back (early in games).”

Even after quarterback Drew Lock & Co. found their mojo late against Los Angeles, registering touchdowns on four of their last five drives, Denver (3-4) ranks 30th in the NFL in third-down conversions at 36.3%. The team is also third-worst in first-half points scored with 61 — far below the league average of 97.