Three numbers that tell the story of Broncos-Jets
Oct 24, 2022, 11:55 AM
(Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images)
DENVER — The Broncos leave the country this week. An ocean and half of a continent will separate them from their home stadium and fans whose displeasure is as understandable as it is palpable.
And one can’t blame the fans for bailing and hitting the exits with just under two minutes left and all three timeouts remaining Sunday. Because what they have seen at home this season is the worst offensive football in — at minimum — a half-century.
Home and away, the Broncos have proven incapable of generating consistent offense. Their 8 touchdowns through 7 games is not only last in the league, the lowest total at that point in a season in franchise history.
But the stench is particularly foul inside Empower Field at Mile High. And the numbers show why the home fans had seen enough.
Touchdowns for the Broncos in their last four home games.
In terms of producing touchdowns, this is the worst single-season stretch in Broncos history.
Including spans of multiple seasons, there was one 4-game stretch that was equally bad … but never one that was worse.
The last time the Broncos scored just 3 touchdowns in a four-home-game span came in the last home game of 1970 leading into the first three home games of 1971. That run included the infamous “half-a-loaf” tie with Miami, a 10-10 deadlock that saw then-coach Lou Saban settle for a tie in the dying minutes. (This was three years before sudden-death overtime came to the NFL in the regular season.)
After that tie, Saban said, “Half a loaf is better than none.” At the next home game a fortnight later — a 16-3 loss to Kansas City — displeased fans showered Saban and the Broncos with half-loaves of bread. Saban eventually resigned his head-coaching duties after nine games of that season.
To show how far the Broncos have fallen in recent years, consider this: The 2013 Broncos had more touchdowns in the first 35 minutes of that season (4) than these Broncos have in four entire home games (3).
Denver’s 45 points through four home games is also the lowest single-season four-game output in team history. When including multi-season four-game stretches, it is the worst since the afore-mentioned quartet of 1970-71 games, in which the Broncos mustered just 42 points.
And given the difference in league-wide averages from 1971 compared with 2022 — 19.4 points and 2.2 touchdowns per game in 1971, 21.7 points and 2.2 touchdowns per game this season — it can be objectively said that the Broncos’ current offensive woes are the worst in the team’s 63-season history.
Consecutive seasons in which the Broncos have been below .500 after seven games. The last time they were above .500 through seven games was in 2016, when the Broncos got off to a 5-2 start en route to their most recent winning season (9-7).
Such starts used to be rare, but now they are lamentably common. The Broncos have had a losing record after seven games as many times in the last six seasons as they did in the previous 34 campaigns.
This is the 25th time in Broncos history that the team posted a losing record in its first seven games. The Broncos never rallied to finish any of those campaigns with a winning record. However, they did rally from 2-5 to 8-8 in 2011 — the Tim Tebow year, of course. They also came back from a 3-4 start in 1980 to finish 8-8.
This is the 11th time the Broncos have started 2-5 or worse. Their collective winning percentage after such starts is .413. So, an average performance after a 2-5 start would leave the Broncos with four more wins and a 6-11 finish.
Their average winning percentage in seasons with a start of 2-5 or worse is .334. For a 17-game schedule, that would translate to an average finish of 5.7 wins and 11.3 losses.
Consecutive games won by teams that allowed 10 or fewer first downs while accumulating at least 20 first downs — before Sunday.
Denver became the first team to lose with that stat line since the Rams on Nov. 1, 2020, who fell 28-17 at Miami despite accumulating 31 first downs while allowing just 10.
Since 2015, teams are 58-7 overall with this stat line — a robust .892 win rate. But the Broncos are 0-2. On Dec. 15, 2015, the Broncos fell 15-12 to Oakland despite amassing a 20-8 first-down advantage.
AND ONE MORE …
Consecutive games lost by the Broncos when allowing a run of greater than 50 yards. Denver hasn’t won when permitting such a carry since Oct. 3, 2010 at Tennessee. The final result Sunday perpetuated that streak after Breece Hall galloped 62 yards for a touchdown in the first quarter.
Credit to pro-football-reference.com’s database for its assistance in researching this story.