Broncos Mailbag: Why doesn’t the offense run more screen passes?

Denver Post Broncos writer Ryan O’Halloran posts his Broncos mailbag weekly during the season. Ask Ryan questions here.

I guess you’ll get this question in similar forms a lot: why was the Broncos-Patriots game postponed earlier in the season and the Steelers game postponed (twice) on Thanksgiving, causing a domino effect for the next few weeks, but the Broncos – with literally no quarterback – still had to play against the Saints? What is the matrix the NFL uses to procrastinate or not? I am very much against the attitude of ‘sour grapes’, ‘poor me’, ‘not fair’, but in this case it seems very random and random.

– Michael Hert, Durango

Here’s what I was able to gather: The Broncos-Patriots game was postponed because the league felt the situation in New England was out of control; they deemed the Broncos free of a breakout, so they held the game on Sunday and seeded the quarterbacks. The same reason was given for the relocation of Ravens-Steelers and not Saints-Broncos. I disagree, but that’s the information I got.

My consistent comment about the quarterbacks crated is that the punishment did not fit the crime and since the league office has not commented, we don’t know the details, except that the quarterbacks were lax wearing their masks last week .

How can the NFL justify putting such a terrible product on the field on Sunday? I don’t blame the Broncos. They tried under impossible conditions. But why wasn’t this game postponed like the Patriots game earlier this season? Or the Ravens / Steelers? Looks like the NFL is bringing those guys slippers and crumpets to full strength, but the Broncos need to find emergency players. Just plain awful Sunday product and that should be the NFL’s concern.

– Matthew, Colorado Springs

The NFL office should be ashamed of what happened on Sunday. But it won’t show any regrets, as the organization of the Broncos in their current state is well below the list of teams the league wants to please. This usually happens without an owner.

I had low expectations for Sunday’s game … and they were not met. In any case, the game was completed in just two hours and 40 minutes.

We all see the weekly phone calls from fans packing the coaches, particularly the offending coordinator Pat Shurmur. However, it remains likely that Vic Fangio will get another year and Drew Lock still has the chance to be the front runner to be the starter next year. If those two things add up, do you think it would better serve the Broncos to give Shurmur another season despite the struggles? None of our homegrown players who have gone on the offensive have played with the same offensive coordinator in consecutive seasons since joining the league, and Lock has played for five coordinators in six years, dating from Missouri.

– Steve, Forks, Wash.

The Broncos are 4-7 and have three of their next four on the way. If they lose all three and aren’t competitive in the process, will the heat in Vic’s seat turn up? It could be. Same with Shurmur and Lock.

I get calls for continuity, but what if general manager John Elway thinks the combination Fangio / Shurmur / Lock doesn’t work? Including Sunday’s game, the Broncos have lost four games this year with at least 18 points.

That said, the young offensive players of the Broncos would benefit from being in the same system … if the system is the right fit to boost their development and performance.

Hi Ryan, was that botched assault on Philip Lindsay scored as Lindsay’s first NFL fumble lost? If so, I think that’s the worst coming out of the no-QB debacle. Can we put an asterisk next to that?

– Patrick, Denver

The worst part of the no-quarterback debacle was that Lindsay sustained a knee injury while serving as the wild quarterback.

Good news, Patrick, the fumble was blamed on Lloyd Cushenberry center.

Ryan, do you know what the plan is for this week? Let’s just say this is the worst-case scenario and all Denver quarterbacks test positive. Who do we get? Does anyone suit this offense? Getting a former Pat Shurmur quarterback like Sam Bradford? Sign his son, Kyle? What about, dare I say, Colin Kaepernick? What would you do in that situation?

– Mike S., Fort Collins

On Monday, Fangio said Drew Lock / Brett Rypien / Blake Bortles would be allowed back into the facility if they test negative on Tuesday.

What I would do in this situation is allow the players to return, tell Bortles to stay in isolation, participate in all virtual gatherings, and train himself.

Are the Broncos terrible at setting up screen passes? It seems like a nice wrinkle many other teams throw in, but every time the Broncos try it blows it up!

– Will, Centennial

I’ve been banging on the figurative drum all year to get the Broncos to spin more screens. Tight end Noah Fant won 13 yards on Sunday, one of the few positive offensive plays and the only completion of the pass.

The fencing game should suit Lindsay, Gordon, Fant and, before he was injured, tight side Albert Okwuegbunam.

More screens, Pat Shurmur, more screens please!

Hi Ryan. Most of the year, the Broncos offense is as quiet as the cow pond behind my tool shed (it probably smells like it, too). How much of this incapacity is play calling, and how much is bad quarterback play? It’s hard to tell on TV if receivers are open and an inexperienced quarterback just doesn’t see them. Would this be a powerful attack with more skill behind the center? Thanks and Happy Thanksgiving from the highest point in Kansas!

– Matt, Mt. Sunflower, Kan.

Hey Matt, I had to Google Mt. Sunflower, Kan., To see a) whether it existed (it does) and b) where it was (along the Kansas-Colorado border). I graduated from Kansas State and had never heard of it.

Dividing the blame for the Broncos’ years of offensive battle isn’t easy. Shurmur didn’t have a pre-season to get to know his players and that may still be ongoing. Recipient Courtland Sutton tore his ACL in week 2. Phillip Lindsay / Melvin Gordon have rarely been healthy at the time. And Lock has 11 interceptions.

I don’t think this offense would light up the scoreboard if they had an experienced quarterback.

I didn’t expect the Broncos to win on Sunday, but they could certainly have come up with a better offensive game plan. Shurmur seems like a coach who cannot adapt his schedule to the talent of his staff. His play-calling doesn’t show much imagination for a coach who came out of Andy Reid’s coaching boom. Did he think the Saints would honor the threat of a four-recipient pass and Phillip Lindsay or Royce Freeman in the shotgun? Why did he make Kendall Hinton throw 15- or 20-yard throws instead of screen passes? His only completed pass was a second half screen, and he only attempted one screen pass. Why not try a heavy package with an extra offensive lineman and Lindsay, Freeman and Melvin Gordon in a wishbone? Do you think Shurmur is an upgrade from Rich Scangarello?

– Chris, Cedaredge

Shurmur an upgrade from Scangarello? No idea. The Broncos are 4-7 this year and are struggling to score points just like they were last year when they struggled to win and score.

Hinton was in no way to be asked to throw the long pass down the right touchline to DaeSean Hamilton, who was intercepted and intercepted. As noted earlier, the screen game should have been used more.

What was surprising is that the Broncos didn’t really get wild with their play-calling.

Denver Post Broncos writer Ryan O’Halloran posts his Broncos mailbag weekly during the season. Ask Ryan questions here.