Offenses have turned Broncos turnovers into too many touchdowns

Von Miller and the Broncos have been off balance when reacting to sudden-change situations. Ron Chenoy/USA TODAY Sports

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- It is not the kind of streak the Denver Broncos' defense will look to add to an otherwise impressive résumé.

But two games into the young season and "sudden change" situations have consistently been sudden trouble. The Broncos offense has turned the ball over four times in two games, and opposing offenses have turned those turnovers into touchdowns all four times.

"It's something you can't really prepare for, it could be going great and, boom, the defense is back on the field," Broncos linebacker Von Miller said. " ... It's not a speech or a chant that can get it done, it's just got to be collective agreement on defense, 'Let’s go out there and stop them.' It doesn’t matter if it's 100 yards or a blade of grass."

Given the Broncos' defense, currently ranked No. 4 in the league in total defense and No. 3 against the run, has surrendered five total touchdowns in the team's two victory, the fact that four of them followed Denver turnovers is more than a little glaring.

While it had little impact in the 42-17 victory over the Dallas Cowboys in Week 2, the Broncos saw their season opener become an unnecessary nail-biter after the Los Angeles Chargers turned two fourth-quarter turnovers into touchdowns in under two minutes to close the Broncos' lead from 24-7 to 24-21. The Broncos needed a blocked field goal by defensive end Shelby Harris in the game's closing seconds to preserve the win.

"We have to do better," cornerback Chris Harris Jr. said. "That's not us."

All four of the turnovers have come in Broncos' territory, so even holding the opposing offense to a field goal would have been a bit of a victory. The Chargers had a six-play, 43-yard drive after a Trevor Siemian interception early in the fourth quarter.

Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers then followed a Jamaal Charles fumble with a 38-yard touchdown pass to Travis Benjamin on the first play after the turnover.

Against the Cowboys, Dallas scored one play after recovering a Siemian fumble on the Broncos' 3-yard line early in the first quarter. The Cowboys later had a six-play, 44-yard drive after a third-quarter interception thrown by Siemian.

"That comes down to film study," Broncos coach Vance Joseph said. " ... We go through sudden-change situations -- some offenses take shots because they assume you're not focused. So some guys take shots, like Philip [Rivers] did, and some guys just run their normal offense. ... We've got to go out there and force a field goal, force a punt -- that's a mindset we have to develop."

The Broncos don't believe it is a scheme issue since the team has dominated most of the moments before andafter those scoring drives. Rivers' pass to Benjamin was a result of a coverage mistake; safety Darian Stewart, who was in the middle of the field, was supposed to have help up the sideline on the play.

But during that six-play drive they allowed to the Chargers, the Broncos didn't force Los Angeles into a third-down play. In the six-play drive they allowed to the Cowboys, Dallas turned a third-and-9 into a fourth-and-1 before converting that for a first down. The Cowboys also scored on a 28-yard pass from Dak Prescott to Jason Witten on second-and-13.

Defensive coordinator Joe Woods said Thursday the Broncos need a "blade-of-grass mentality," wherein if even one blade of grass remains between the offense and the goal line, the Broncos have an opportunity to get a stop.

"We just have to be a little bit sharper," Woods said.

"Our job is to go out there and stop them and we've got to do a better job of that," Miller said. " ... Offenses in general, sudden change [and] you've got a short field, [they] want to put the ball in the end zone and score points. That's just Football 101."