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Broncos look to improve offense heading into AFC West showdown vs. Raiders

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Posted at 2:26 PM, Oct 31, 2016
and last updated 2016-10-31 16:26:20-04

CENTENNIAL, Colo. -- The expectation applies the prism for viewing. 

The Cleveland Browns celebrated hope for a single victory Monday with the acquisition of Patriots linebacker Jamie Collins. The Broncos lamented their clumsy running game after improving to 6-2, leaving them perched atop the AFC West with the Oakland Raiders. 

Sunday's worn theme: Same as it ever was. 

The Broncos eclipsed San Diego 27-19 behind a fang-bearing defense and just enough offense. Everything remains in front of Denver: division title, top playoff seed, home field advantage. But those dreams will dissolve without better production offensively.

"We aren't even close to what we need to be," Kubiak said. "We know that."

Sunday's statistics left Kubiak sour for two reasons: The Broncos couldn't run the ball -- "It was non-existent," he said -- and they lacked diversity. The Broncos passed on 16 of their first 20 plays. They became unbalanced after a successful first drive, going three-and-out on four straight possessions. The breakdowns came across the board. Poor blocking, missteps running and no progress on first down -- 1.8 yards per pop on 13 carries.

Devontae Booker received a follow-up exam after injuring his shoulder, but Kubiak believes he will be OK. Kapri Bibbs fumbled, and finished with four yards. The Broncos' rush total was an alarming 57 yards on 25 attempts. Kubiak didn't rule out a trade before Tuesday's 2 p.m. deadline, but diminished the idea of moving Donald Stephenson to guard as an avenue to acquire a tackle. 

"It's always about the team. We didn't the run the ball at all, but we made some big plays in the air," said Kubiak, referring to long catches by Emmanuel Sanders and Demaryius Thomas, who received co-offensive players of the week from the coaching staff. "Balance, to me, comes through ball movement, and we've got to find it."

The handwringing about the Broncos' offense is real. Has quarterback Trevor Siemian reached his ceiling? Kubiak admitted Siemian made poor decisions against San Diego. He could have had four interceptions, instead of one. However, the NFL, more than any sport, remains a matchup league. And for all the issues with the Broncos' offense there is this: Oakland can't stop the run. The Raiders allow 125 yards per game on the ground. The last team Denver played like that? Houston. And the Broncos nearly logged 200. So it goes back to that theme. If the Broncos can't run on Oakland, then who can they run on (besides Houston)?

"The group of 11 guys on the field has got to figure out how to get the ball into the end zone," Thomas said on the key to improvement. "Whatever the coaches call, we’ve got to execute it.”

Footnotes

  • The Broncos players of the week: Thomas and Sanders on offense, T.J. Ward, Bradley Roby and Jared Crick on defense and punter Riley Dixon on special teams.
  • Kubiak texted with Andre Johnson after the receiver announced his retirement Monday. Johnson starred for Kubiak in Houston, and is a strong candidate to make the Hall of Fame. "He is as fine a combination of football player and person as I have ever been around. I am really proud of him."
  • With Aqib Talib out and Kayvon Webster hurt during the game, cornerback Lorenzo Doss played 40 snaps, and broke up an important pass on the goal line. "It's a big game in Doss' career. I am looking for him to build off that."
  • Linebacker Corey Nelson played 77 snaps in Brandon Marshall's absence. "He did a really good job running the defense," said Kubiak.

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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 TheDenverChannel.com’s Broncos page. Troy welcomes most of your emails at Troy.Renck@kmgh.com.

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