O≠ense needs ma­jor changes Bron­cos have been able to score only two touch­downs in their last 14 quar­ters

The Denver Post - - SPORTS - By Cameron Wolfe Cameron Wolfe: cwolfe@den­ver­post.com or @CameronWolfe

kansas city, mo.» The play­offs were still within reach for Den­ver head­ing into Sun­day night’s game against Kansas City, but the Bron­cos’ last stand proved to be lit­tle more than the fi­nal note of the same sad song.

Den­ver’s sea­son-long of­fen­sive prob­lems — lack of a run­ning game, of­fen­sive line in­ep­ti­tude, in­ex­pe­ri­ence at the quar­ter­back po­si­tion and a com­plete dis­as­ter on short-yardage plays — all showed up again in a 33-10 drub­bing by the Chiefs.

“We shot our­selves in the foot in crit­i­cal sit­u­a­tions. Our game is throw­ing and catch­ing and stay­ing on sched­ule with the run,” left of­fen­sive tackle Russell Okung said. “We weren’t able to do that to­day against a re­ally con­sis­tent team. Be­cause of that, we took a loss.”

The Bron­cos, now of­fi­cially out of the play­offs, will be forced to look to­ward the off­sea­son with their win­dow slowly clos­ing on a de­fense they rode to a Su­per Bowl cham­pi­onship last sea­son, and their of­fen­sive is­sues more pro­found than ever.

It’s an in­dict­ment of of­fen­sive­minded coach Gary Ku­biak and his staff that the Bron­cos have scored just two touch­downs in their last 14 quar­ters and 23 points in their last three games.

“We just got to look to­ward to the fu­ture. That’s all we can do,” The Bron­cos’ of­fense and Chiefs’ de­fense collide while chas­ing a fum­ble by Den­ver run­ning back Devon­tae Booker in the fourth quar­ter Sun­day night at Ar­row­head Sta­dium. Joe Amon, The Den­ver Post rookie run­ning back Devon­tae Booker said. “We’ve got to come back, work our butt off and be bet­ter than we were this sea­son.”

First-year start­ing quar­ter­back Trevor Siemian played his worst game of the sea­son. He fin­ished 17-of-43 for 183 yards, no touch­downs, one in­ter­cep­tion and a 43.1 quar­ter­back rat­ing. He con­sis­tently missed open re­ceivers, forced the ball into dou­ble cover­age and failed to get his team out of bad play calls.

It’s fair to won­der whether he’s the an­swer at the po­si­tion, but the prob­lems around him are so sig­nif­i­cant, it’s hard to make a true as­sess­ment.

Rookie Pax­ton Lynch strug­gled in his two starts this sea­son, fill­ing in for an in­jured Siemian.

Den­ver’s of­fense gained just 246 yards. The Bron­cos fin­ished with 63 yards rush­ing, only 17 more than Chiefs quar­ter­back Alex Smith had by him­self.

The Bron­cos’ only of­fen­sive touch­down was gift-wrapped by a Justin Sim­mons in­ter­cep­tion, which al­lowed them to start on the Chiefs’ 6-yard line.

“It’s a tough pill to swal­low,” said run­ning back Justin Forsett, who scored that lone touch­down on a 1-yard run late in the first quar­ter.

A com­bi­na­tion of per­son­nel and scheme prob­lems may make it nec­es­sary for Ku­biak to look at changes in both ar­eas.

Don­ald Stephen­son had an­other tough game at right of­fen­sive tackle. He was beaten through­out the game by Chiefs out­side line­backer Dee Ford and his speed rushes. Stephen­son al­lowed three quar­ter­back hits and many more pres­sures. He was called for five penal­ties, four of which were ac­cepted.

“It was just the penal­ties. Other than that, it was fine. It was the false starts,” Stephen­son said. “It was try­ing to get a jump on the snap. Ob­vi­ously, the noise played a fac­tor. I just have to be more poised in those sit­u­a­tions.”

The Bron­cos need up­grades through­out their en­tire of­fen­sive line, but the is­sues prob­a­bly can’t be fixed in one off­sea­son.

Den­ver’s top two of­fen­sive play­ers, re­ceivers De­mary­ius Thomas and Em­manuel San­ders, com­bined for four catches for 46 yards — and no touch­downs.

Un­like in the past sea­son, a Su­per Bowl vic­tory won’t be able to hide the is­sues on of­fense. It’s time for se­ri­ous re­flec­tion on what went wrong.

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