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Broncos defense continues to struggle creating turnovers

Posted at 12:06 PM, Nov 24, 2017
and last updated 2017-11-24 14:57:13-05

CENTENNIAL, Colo. -- The offense represents low hanging fruit. You don't have to know a safety blitz form a safety belt to recognize the Broncos offense is anemic. Ten games into the season, the team turns to its third quarterback and second coordinator. 

But the defense is not blameless as the club owns its longest losing streak since 1990. The 2015 season seems like a long time ago. The Broncos won their third Super Bowl in franchise history with an historically great, fang-bearing, barbed-wired knuckle unit that made life miserable for opponents. 

This season nothing has gone as expected.

The Broncos rank 31st in takeaways with seven, one better than Sunday's foe Oakland. They have recovered two fumbles, which is tied for last with Arizona. Denver has 31 takeaway points.

"We have been playing from behind. We have to try not to beat ourself in the first quarter," cornerback Chris Harris Jr. said. "We have to come out fast. The weather is supposed to be bad (with 90 percent chance of rain). So it might be a totally different game."

Think on this a minute.

The Broncos scored six defensive touchdowns in 2015, an outlier as the defenders became one of the team's best offensive weapons. They scored three last season. This year linebacker Brandon Marshall's jaunt represents the lone score, but it came in rout at Philadelphia. 

The Broncos rank last in points allowed after turnovers and are allowing 26 points per game, 27th in the NFL. It has not helped that Denver has trailed almost 90 percent of the time during this losing skid. Yet, the sobering statistics provide a prism into defensive coordinator Joe Woods' struggles as a first-time coordinator. He insists the players are buying in, and can improve.

"There’s a level of respect between me and all the players at each position. The biggest thing you have to do as a coach is be honest. If you’re honest, they respect that -- good, bad and indifferent That’s what I’ve always been with those guys. They know the situation we’re in," Woods said. "Nobody is happy about it. We’re a little embarrassed at the same time. But as long as we’re truthful and willing to show up each and every week to go to work for the next game, I feel good about that."

At this point, nobody wants to hear about practice -- or even fights at practice during spirited dustups between Chris Harris Jr. and Isaiah McKenzie and Zach Kerr and Connor McGovern. Such emotion reveals healthy competition, but gameday results are required when trying win the first road contest this season.

Is this the game Von Miller goes off? As much he receives criticism -- welcome to the world of being a team's highest-paid player -- Miller's season has not been much different than the previous two. He's on pace for 13 sacks and 22 quarterback -- a tick down -- with 19 tackles for loss (six more than a year ago).

It circles back to defining moments. Defenses are defined by red zone ability and turnovers. The Broncos have not excelled, which is amplified by an underwhelming offense that can't stop giving the ball away. 

"We are ready. We need to go do it, get a win, then get another and get rolling," defensive end Derek Wolfe said. "This losing is making me sick."


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Want Broncos news? Denver7 Broncos insider Troy E. Renck is your source. He talks to the players, covers the games and reports scoops on Denver7 and the Denver7 app. He is a CU grad who has covered pro sports in Colorado since 1996, including 14 years at The Denver Post. Follow him on Facebook, Twitter and’s Broncos page. Troy welcomes most of your emails at