DENVER – There is plenty of criticism to go around on the Denver Broncos' offense these days.
“Disappointment, anger, sadness, all of the above," wide receiver Courtland Sutton said after Sunday’s 16-9 loss to the New York Jets. “ … Defense has been busting their butts … it’s on us to figure out a way how to gel with them, to make it 50-50 and get some of these wins.’’
“When your defense is playing as well as our defense is, you shouldn’t be losing games,’’ quarterback Brett Rypien added. “That’s just point blank, period, a fact.’’
The Broncos continue to be in the move-the-ball-but-don’t-score cycle. They outpaced the Jets in first downs (21-10), plays (75-53), total yards (324-260) and passing yards (219-105), but lost by a touchdown.
It was the sixth time this season the Broncos have scored 16 or fewer points, and the third time they’ve been held to 11 or fewer points. The Broncos now head to London with one of the league’s best defenses -- only one opponent has scored more than 19 points -- and a 2-5 record to show for it.
“We have to find a way, myself and our offense, to make more plays,’’ Rypien said. “I don’t know what the answer is … If we had the answer I feel like it would be happening right now. I don’t know, I don’t know.’’
“They’re there, and we’ve got to capitalize on them,’’ Hackett said. “It’s that simple … until then it’s going to be the same story, in a close game, and we have to find a way to win that damn thing.’’
The Broncos had to adjust for Russell Wilson’s absence Sunday as he missed just the fourth game of his career due to a hamstring injury he suffered in last week’s loss to the Los Angeles Chargers. Rypien made just his second career start -- he started a Broncos' win over the Jets in 2020 -- and early on the Broncos cocooned him in a power-first look with two tight ends or two backs.
Initially, it worked, as the Broncos carved out a 9-6 lead late in the second quarter despite a missed 56-yard field goal and a missed extra point from kicker Brandon McManus. But the third-quarter blues continued and they were shut out after halftime. The Broncos have scored just five points (two of those were safeties from the defense) in the third quarter all season and 34 second-half points overall.
“I’m sick of being up here saying the same thing over and over again,’’ Hackett said. “The opportunities are there, over and over again, but we’ve got to take them. There’s no excuses, we’ve got to win these games."
Broncos safety Justin Simmons was quick to dismiss the angst from the team’s offensive players.
He pointed to Jets' running back Breece Hall’s 62-yard touchdown run in the first quarter (a run that accounted 24% of the Jets’ output on offense for the game) as well as a 37-yard reception by running back Michael Carter that led to a Jets field goal in the second quarter -- “there’s 10 points.’’
“With all due respect to [Sutton's] comments … we’re at fault too,’’ Simmons added.
In the end Hackett said Wilson was “trending’’ toward playing against the Jacksonville Jaguars in London. But perhaps the most disconcerting thing for the Broncos is after their post-London bye, the real teeth of the schedule arrive with two games against the Kansas City Chiefs as well as road games against the Tennessee Titans, Baltimore Ravens, and Los Angeles Rams.
“The heat’s always on,’’ Hackett said. “ … We’re behind the eight ball at 2-5, we’ve got to fight ourselves out of this hole.’’