Three numbers that tell the story of Broncos-Panthers
DENVER — Sam Darnold didn’t pass often Sunday. But when he did, he usually had plenty of time to operate — which continued a trend that began developing two weeks earlier when the Broncos began life after Bradley Chubb in Tennessee.
That is where this week’s look at the numbers begins.
Sacks in Sunday’s game by the Broncos, which, unfortunately, is part of a larger trend in recent weeks.
Denver has just two sacks in three games since the trade of Chubb. That is the Broncos’ worst 3-game sack output since the first three games of Vic Fangio’s tenure in 2019, when they had no sacks.
Before the Chubb trade, Denver averaged one QB hit every 6.1 pass plays and one sack every 12.2 pass plays. In the three games since the swap, Denver’s hit rate dropped to one every 9.4 pass plays, and its sack rate is one every 47 pass plays.
Denver could certainly use Randy Gregory back. And to be certain, Gregory aches to return. bBt for now, the free-agent pickup remains on injured reserve due to a knee injury suffered in Week 4 at Las Vegas.
Games in which Denver has mustered one or zero touchdowns so far this season — including Sunday’s loss to Carolina.
How bad is that? Well, consider this: According to pro-football-reference.com, this is the most 1-or-zero-touchdown games for any team through 11 contests since the 1978 rules changes that opened up the passing game, with the NFL instituting the illegal-contact rule that penalized contact beyond 5 yards from the line of scrimmage. The NFL also liberalized offensive-holding rules that year, allowing offensive linemen to extend their arms. Scoring rose as a result of the changes, which is why most offensive data before 1978 doesn’t have any comparative value.
The 2022 Broncos join six other teams since 1978 with this dubious statistic. The most recent of those clubs was the 2011 St. Louis Rams. Also in this group are the 2009 Raiders, the 2005 Ravens, the 2000 Bengals and Washington and Seattle, both from 1992.
Percentage of snaps on which the Panthers ran Sunday. That is the highest run percentage against the Broncos in just over 14 years, since the Oakland Raiders ran on 41 of 53 snaps — 77.4 percent — in throttling the Broncos 31-10 on Nov. 23, 2008.
There was little reason for the Panthers to ditch the run Sunday, given how consistently their offensive line got a push off the snap, creating holes for D’Onta Foreman and Chuba Hubbard to reach the second level before absorbing contact.