When is a double-digit lead in the second half not safe? When you’re the Broncos and the overall offensive ineptitude is magnified.
Exhibits A-C were squandered halftime leads of 17-6 (Jacksonville), 13-3 (Indianapolis) and 20-0 (Minnesota).
And Exhibit D nearly arrived last week, when the Broncos raced to a 17-3 lead over the Los Angeles Chargers late in the first half, but needed a Brandon McManus field goal as time expired to win 23-20.
So what gives? We know the Broncos are offensively challenged in general — their 16.5-point average is 30th in the NFL. Is it the youth? Is it offensive coordinator Rich Scangarello’s play-calling? Is it coach Vic Fangio’s occasional conservative game managing?
Heading into Sunday’s game at Houston, we choose all of the above. Rookies sometimes do rookie things. Scangarello’s first NFL play-calling journey has left him open to criticism. And Fangio’s mitts are undoubtedly on some of the play-safe decisions, although he went for the regulation win against the Chargers instead of playing for overtime.
The common theme is it has been a season-long issue. A look at the statistics:
* In the second half, the Broncos’ 79 points are second-fewest in the league (Cincinnati 75) and their point differential of minus-64 is third-worst (Oakland minus-72 and Miami minus-104).
* On 67 second-half possessions (including kneel-downs), the Broncos are averaging a measly 1.2 points per drive; the first half isn’t much better (1.8).
* The Broncos have 22 three-and-punt possessions in the second half.