Fault for Joe Flacco sacks falls on more than just Broncos' O-line

Broncos quarterback Joe Flacco has been sacked 11 times this season and is on pace for the most in his career. Stacy Revere/Getty Images

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- After three weeks, Joe Flacco is already in a fairly exclusive club -- just not the kind the Denver Broncos want to see him in.

Flacco is one of just six quarterbacks to have been sacked at least 10 times this season. His 11 sacks -- including six in last Sunday's loss at Green Bay -- put him in the company of Marcus Mariota (sacked 17 times), Kyler Murray (16 times), Deshaun Watson (12 times), Andy Dalton (11 times) and Baker Mayfield (11 times).

Those six quarterbacks play for teams that are a combined 4-13-1, and two of them are winless (Cincinnati and Denver). Only Watson plays for a team with a winning record (Texans are 2-1).

"There was definitely a few of those [sacks] where he held on to it for a long time. There's only so much time you can hold it back there, and Joe's got to do a better job of getting it out quicker," coach Vic Fangio said in the wake of the rainy loss at Lambeau Field. "The [wide receivers'] routes have to be run crisper. Everything's got to be better; it's not just that he's holding it. Maybe he's holding it for other reasons, too. I thought our line, for how many passes we ended up throwing, blocked pretty good."

Flacco is on pace to be sacked 59 times, which would be the most of his career, surpassing the 48 times he was taken down in 2013.

While the Broncos' offensive line, left tackle Garett Bolles in particular, has taken much of the public criticism for how things have gone thus far, Fangio already this week has echoed his point from Sunday, saying the line was not the biggest problem in Green Bay.

"Every [sack] is a little different," Fangio said. "... We've had had a fair amount of sacks, but I don't think it's indicative of the way our offensive line has been playing. ... Overall, I think the offensive line has not been perfect, but has done a pretty decent job."

Wherever the blame lies -- with Flacco, the receivers or the linemen -- it is an immediate concern for the Broncos given they face the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday. The Jaguars are tied for the league lead in sacks -- with the New England Patriots -- with 13. In the first four games of the season, the Broncos will have faced the teams that are currently first, tied for third (Green Bay) and fifth (Chicago) in sacks.

The Jaguars sacked Mariota nine times in Week 3 and got Watson four times in Week 2. On the positive side of the ledger for the Broncos: Jaguars Pro Bowl cornerback Jalen Ramsey, who has asked to be traded, missed practice time this week with what was designated as a back injury. He is not expected to play against the Broncos. Ramsey's absence could influence how aggressive the Jaguars are in the pass rush.

Protecting Flacco is not a short-term problem, though. The Broncos will face the Browns, Vikings, Texans and Lions in the weeks to come and all of them are among the league's top 10 in sacks.

Protecting Flacco is paramount to the team's desire for more downfield passing. The Broncos have just two pass plays of more than 30 yards in the past two games games combined.

"We've got to play assignment football a little better so we can create some opportunities for ourselves," said Flacco, who has included himself in that directive. "... We haven't really pushed the ball deep down the field with some actual length of throws yet, but we're getting there. We've got to hold up; everybody's got to do their job. When you're trying to get those throws, it takes 11 guys."

Ten of the 11 sacks allowed by the Broncos have come in their three-receiver look, and six of the 11 have been out of the shotgun.

"We've played some really tough games, and we haven't come out with the wins, but we're getting there," Flacco said. "We've just got to make it happen. There's definitely a sense of urgency [that] it has to happen now."