ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- A weekly look at what the Denver Broncos must fix:
In an offense built on precision and making split-second changes at the line of scrimmage to put itself in the best possible play, the Broncos continue to give defenses too many second chances with penalties.
Yes, 4-1 is, and always will be, the bottom line. The Broncos win pretty, they win not so pretty, but penalties are self-inflicted items that seem to hurt worse the deeper a team is into the football calendar, so what gets overcome now might not be with a Super Bowl trip on the line.
And while the Broncos might not agree with all of the flags -- and they don't -- their 51 penalties in five games put them in not-so-good company. Of the 13 teams which have been flagged at least 51 times this season, only the St. Louis Rams (1-4) and Broncos have not yet played six games.
The team’s offensive line continues to draw many of those flags, even as it struggles to tighten up the gaps in the run-blocking scheme. The Broncos are always going to draw the occasional holding penalty to keep any rushers who get free from hitting quarterback Peyton Manning -- better a 10-yard walk-off than a clean shot on Manning -- but some defensive coaches in the league say the Broncos linemen are tipping their hand with their footwork in the run game by having the linemen back out slightly before they pull to run wide.
Defensive linemen are shooting those gaps as soon as they see the movement. Broncos linemen have been flagged for several holding penalties in the run game, including two more Sunday against the New York Jets, as they have tried to combat that.
In all on Sunday, four of the five starting offensive linemen drew flags in the game. The one who didn't, right tackle Chris Clark, is the most penalized player on the team at the moment.
Right guard Louis Vasquez, who has played through some back and rib issues this season, has already drawn three flags, or the same number he did in all of the 2013 season when he was named an All Pro.