What can Vic Fangio do to kick-start dormant first-half offense? – The Denver Post

Denver Post Broncos writer Ryan O’Halloran posts his Broncos Mailbag weekly during the season. Submit questions to Ryan here.

The Broncos appear unable to come out of the locker room with anything resembling energy. Who is responsible for the initial plays? I get the injuries, but we are weeks into the season. Are we really this bad? Also, Melvin Gordon. Going to be on the team for 2021? Does not seem to be worth all the millions he received.
— Ann, Superior

Entering Monday’s Patriots-Jets game, the Broncos’ 25 first-quarter points were 27th and their minus-19 point differential was 26th. The injuries aren’t an excuse as to why the Broncos don’t execute better off the hop. Citing the missed practice time in recent weeks is also a bad excuse. Offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur is responsible for the play-calling and thus the opening script.

Gordon is under contract for 2021 (salary cap hit of $9 million, which is sixth-highest on the Broncos). The team can create $6.5 million of space if they cut him. For all we know, the opinion of Gordon inside the Broncos’ facility may be different from the public one. He does provide one key service — he can pass protect and is also a reliable receiver. That’s not worth $9 million, though.

The Broncos seem stuck in NFL purgatory since Peyton Manning retired. They haven’t been good enough to be competing for a playoff spot in December but also not quite bad enough for a top-three pick/total rebuild. Is this the result of John Elway always thinking he is a couple of veteran pieces away from being a contender again?
— Steve, Forks, Wash.

Since 2016, the Broncos entering December have been 7-5 (2016, finished 9-7), 3-8 (2017, finished 5-11), 5-6 (2018, finished 6-10) and 3-8 (2019, finished 7-9). Translation: They’ve entered the final month out of playoff contention or playing uphill.

Last December, what got us to the finish line was Drew Lock getting his first five starts. What’s exciting about this December? Jerry Jeudy.

Also Check:  Chargers have mixed feelings about Justin Herbert running more – Press Enterprise

Elway is always going to be a retool-instead-of-rebuild general manager. But this year has the feel of a rebuild year because of the reliance on so many young players. What Elway needs to hope is that some of the lumps of 2020 pay off in 2021.

Ryan, it doesn’t seem like there’s a sense of urgency for the offense in the first half (well, first three quarters). What can Vic Fangio do to light a fire under them? Also, is there someone out there we can add to bolster our secondary? They looked seriously outmatched on Sunday.
— Matthew, Aurora

It’s nearly impossible to measure urgency except for the end of the first half or game when the offense is moving quickly (or isn’t).

What are Fangio’s options? He should start taking the football first if he wins the toss — what’s the harm? You’re 3-5. You never know, that could produce a spark. The other suggestion Fangio could make is sprinkling in more up-tempo plays (like Atlanta did so well on Sunday) or a gadget play.

At this point of the season, any help for the secondary is internal and that is the return to health of cornerbacks A.J. Bouye (concussion) and Bryce Callahan (ankle).

Knowing that we have one of the best running backs in the league, why not give him the football more often?
— Pedro Ambriz, Mexico

I assume Pedro is referring to Phillip Lindsay. Against Atlanta, Gordon had 44 snaps and Lindsay 28 snaps. The disparity is because Gordon plays in the two-minute offense more than Lindsay, which includes possessions when the Broncos are chasing the game.

As for Lindsay not getting more carries, the Broncos’ first-half issues have forced them to pass more in the second half of the last two games. Against Atlanta, the Broncos had only 15 called rushes out of 71 snaps.

Also Check:  Hotline newsletter: Pac-12’s history of social tolerance provides an opportunity to separate itself from Power Five peers

When the Broncos figure out their first-half issues, it will allow them to use Lindsay more often.

Do you think Vic Fangio took a page from John Thompson when Dikembe Mutombo was underperforming for him in college and taped a ticket back home on his locker? I have a feeling that Vic taped a picture of Trevor Lawrence on Drew Lock’s locker at halftime.
— Charles Danna, Lakewood

I hadn’t heard that Thompson-Mutombo story but I believe it — Big John could play mind games with the best of them.

OK, folks, let’s put this one to rest: The Broncos aren’t bad enough and won’t be bad enough to get in position for Lawrence or Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields.

Entering Monday, 10 NFL teams had fewer wins than the Broncos’ three. The Broncos are more likely to win a few games to play themselves out of the top 10 than bottom out and somehow reach the top five.

Let’s talk about the elephant in the room regarding the Broncos. It’s the ownership uncertainty. Can the Broncos go back to being an elite team and franchise without the ownership situation being settled? Does the issue impact the organization and how it’s run? It’s hard to ignore the mediocrity that has beset the team since Pat Bowlen fell ill to the point he was no longer involved. There was some hangover success but that was due to the magic of Manning. This has got to get resolved in the next 24 months if not sooner.
— Joe G., Sacramento, Calif.

The Post’s ownership coverage has been infrequent lately for a simple reason: Nothing is happening yet. The trial pitting the trustees against Beth Bowlen Wallace and Amie Klemmer has been delayed to 2021.

Maybe a new owner is the spark the Broncos need as an organization to re-circle and get back to their winning ways. But a new owner will also mean a new way of doing things and that also takes time.

Also Check:  Tiger Woods emerges for charity match with Mickelson, Brady and Manning

There has been no Manning Hangover Success — they haven’t made the playoffs since he retired.

As for a timetable, there is no point in setting one until the trial happens and we know who will be in charge of selling the team.

Is it possible that the Broncos’ offensive struggles are tied to Lock’s injury early in Week 2? It seems like they’re just starting to get their footing now that he’s back and that he’s starting to learn the Pat Shurmur offense. What do you think?
— Brandon Brown, Rogers, Minn.

Interesting point, Brandon, and I agree that Lock looked iffy against New England and Kansas City, like he was working his way back into the flow of the game. But he showed up in the fourth quarter against the Chargers.

The key point for Lock is staying on the field — stopping and starting because of injuries doesn’t lead to improvement.

The Broncos’ offense has flashes like every young-and-inconsistent group, but as Lock gets more comfortable with Shurmur’s scheme, the second-half-of-the-season results could be improved.

Denver Post Broncos writer Ryan O’Halloran posts his Broncos Mailbag weekly during the season. Submit questions to Ryan here.