By Rick Brown
It wasn’t shocking to see the Denver Broncos (3-9) lose their eighth game in a row against the Miami Dolphins (5-7), but the manner in which they did so was downright ugly. The Broncos made numerous mistakes on Sunday at Hard Rock Stadium, including turning the ball over three times. The return of Trevor Siemian to Denver’s lineup did not create the spark the team needed, to say the least. The QB threw three interceptions, including a pick-six.
On the other side of the ball, the Broncos continue to struggle in coverage against tight ends as former Bronco TE Julius Thomas caught a touchdown early in the first quarter. Neither the Broncos nor the Dolphins executed properly, but Miami did just enough to snap their five-game skid to win the game, 35-9.
Siemian and the Broncos offense did not start off well when a tipped passed turned into an interception for the Dolphins. The Broncos continued to make mistakes as center Matt Paradis snapped the ball over Siemian’s head, which resulted in a safety in the second quarter. On the next series, Siemian threw another interception, and his second of the day was returned for a touchdown. Things did not go any better for the Broncos later in the game, as a third interception in the fourth quarter led to another Dolphins TD. The only points put up on the board were scored by the special teams and the defense. Siemian finished with his worst game of the season with a QB rating of only 30.5. In the end, one of the worst defenses in the NFL was able to completely overtake the Denver offense.
The Broncos defense started off the game well and held the Dolphins scoreless on the team’s opening drive, though they were not able to stop Miami as Jay Cutler connected with Julius Thomas for a touchdown. The Broncos defense was able to create a turnover when Chris Harris caught an interception from Cutler in the second quarter. Bradley Roby, filling in for the suspended Aqib Talib, had a good day with a forced fumble while also playing well in coverage. The Broncos secondary did a great job on Sunday as Justin Simmons was able to catch an interception and return it for a touchdown. Unfortunately, the Broncos defense could not do enough to win the game.
Special Teams: D
The special teams made some costly mistakes against Miami. The team had a punt blocked and allowed for a big punt return for the Dolphins. The Broncos also received a delay of game penalty after failing to return an onside kick before a kickoff, and Isaiah McKenzie had his sixth fumble of the season, which resulted in a safety. Though Brandon McManus did score on a field goal early in the game, it didn’t end up helping the team in the end.
The Broncos coaching staff looks completely lost as the team continued to turn the ball over. When the Broncos did force a couple of turnovers, the offense was unable to convert those to points. Why Vance Joseph didn’t bench Siemian and put in Brock Osweiler at halftime is a mystery.
The defense tried hard but is still unable to cover the tight end position. It seems as though any team that is playing the Broncos happens to have their best performance. Additionally, the Broncos coaching staff continued to keep McKenzie out for return punts knowing full well he was a liability. Their inability to coach to an opponent’s strength has become the Broncos’ Achilles heel.
The Broncos (3-9) will host the New York Jets (5-7) at Sports Authority at Mile High. The Broncos cannot seem to make anything work and are in the midst of an eight game losing streak. The Jets faced a declining Kansas City Chiefs (6-6) and are going to be riding an emotional win. Neither of these teams should be thinking of making the playoffs this season, but the Broncos coaching staff needs to figure out a way to win, otherwise the Jets will be leaving Denver with a victory.