By Rick Brown
The Denver Broncos (5-10) were riding a two-game winning streak as the team traveled to play the Washington Redskins (7-8) on Christmas Eve. The Broncos elected to start Brock Oswelier at the quarterback position as opposed to Paxton Lynch.
But Sunday played out the same old story for the Broncos that was plaguing them during their eight game losing streak: A slow start by the offense, some mistakes along the way, and a disappearing defense. Washington’s Kirk Cousins was able to dominate the game. The QB threw three touchdowns and the Redskins rolled over the Broncos, 27-11.
On Offense: D
Denver waited all week to announce the team’s starting quarterback, and it was clear the Broncos coaching staff came to Washington with the intention to run the ball. Brock Oswelier couldn’t seem to get his team to rally to their third straight victory. At one point, the QB could be seen yelling at his teammates on the sidelines while his fellow players ignored him.
The offense got off to a slow start. While C.J. Anderson was successful on the ground (88 yards on 16 carries), the passing game suffered. The team could not move the ball and only scored 3 points before halftime. Denver’s offensive line was unable to stop the Redskins’ pass rush. Ryan Kerrigan had his way with Garret Bolles and Donald Stephenson and notched two sacks. Osweiler went 22-of-38 in passing for 193 yards, an interception and zero touchdowns while taking a total of four sacks.
The lack of production on offense did not help the defense as the secondary had its hands full with Kirk Cousins.
On Defense: C
The Broncos defense was able to contain the Redskins offense until Cousins threw his first touchdown of the day. After the first quarter, the Redskins offense found ways to create big plays. While the defensive line was able to stop the Redskins’ rushing attack, Cousins came to life and found a way to push the ball down the field. He was able to connect with Josh Doctson for a 48-yard touchdown pass. He did not stop there on his way to throwing for 299 yards and three touchdowns.
Special Teams: B
The special teams performed well and was the only source of points for the Broncos. Riley Dixon had a great punt in the first quarter when he pinned the Redskins on the 3-yard line. Brandon McManus connected with his only field goal attempt.
The coaching staff appeared to have found a winning recipe. The Broncos had won two games in a row coming into this week, but this week the Broncos could not get the offense going. This was not the same team as it was the last two weeks. The offensive line is also a mess and the coaching staff cannot seem to find a working combination or a way to move the ball down the field.
The AFC West champion Kansas City Chiefs (9-6) will come to Denver to the play the Broncos on New Years Eve. Denver doesn’t have anything to play for other than pride, while the Chiefs will want to finish the season with some momentum going into the playoffs. It will be interesting to see who will be starting at quarterback for Denver in the last game of the season.