Broncos Mailbag: Why can’t offense stay aggressive and build on a lead instead of losing it?

Denver Post Broncos writer Ryan O’Halloran posts his Broncos Mailbag weekly during the season.

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As exciting as it was to win a game again and see Drew Lock finally take the field, I still need to be a grump. Why is this coaching staff so afraid of having a lead? At 17-3, I confidently predicted Grandpa Vic would take his foot off the gas and sure enough, Denver didn’t try to press the ball downfield again until it was tied 20-20. Even with a bad offensive line and shaky QB play, it seems like the play-calling is their worst enemy. How could they not have learned their lesson after the Jacksonville loss, or surely the Minnesota debacle?

— Stebe, Loveland

Offensive coordinator Rich Scangarello has once again found himself in the figurative cross-hairs about his play-calling in Sunday’s win. Where our gripe begins: After the Chargers fumbled a punt, the Broncos (up 14-3) started at the Chargers’ 21. Time to stay on the gas and finish off Los Angeles, right? Not quite. The Broncos ran Royce Freeman three consecutive times (3, 5 and no yards) and kicked the field goal. I would have liked to see a shot into the end zone. Early third quarter (up 17-10): A roughing-the-punter penalty gave the Broncos a fresh set of downs at their 40. Phillip Lindsay gained 3 on second-and-4, but lost 3 on third-and-1. My problem isn’t running it on third-and-1 (Fangio was fine with that) it was the call — a pitch out to Lindsay with no lead blocker. In the fourth quarter, they took a 20-17 lead with an eight-play drive that gained only 21 yards, including a 3-yard loss on first down that put them behind the sticks.

Drew Lock came out firing on all cylinders in the first half of his first game. But again the second half, it seems like the coaches turn down the throttle and just seem content to let the defense keep the other team from scoring the rest of the game. Has anyone asked why they seem to always run the offense differently in the second half compared to the first half?

— Del, Lamar

Fangio has been asked about the conservative offensive play-calling throughout the season, especially in the Indianapolis and Minnesota games. I do think there is a little bit of a shorten-the-game-by-getting-a-lead-and-play-good-defense mindset because Fangio is the defense’s play-caller. I think that was certainly the case in the Colts game, when the goal seemed to be to make Indianapolis use all of its timeouts instead of going for the game-ending first down. In the Vikings game, Scangarello emptied the kitchen cabinet with new plays in the first half, but the second half featured zero production.

Did the offensive line for the Broncos have their best game against the Chargers yesterday? Were the coaches happy with Austin Schlottmann‘s play when he came in at right guard? It seems to me the Chargers coaches made better halftime adjustments than the Broncos coaches.