CARSON, Calif.— Remember the perceived plan for the Broncos on offense last year?
Take care of the football, don't unnecessary take chances, use your first read and punt if you have to.
The idea was that the Broncos defense was so good that, as long as you didn't put them in a bad position, they would get the stop and eventually your offense would make a play or two.
In an odd twist, a similar strategy is now being used against the Broncos defense. The indictment, though, is that teams aren't using that strategy because they have some all-world defense. They're using it because they believe the Broncos defense is the only side of the ball that can beat them.
Play keep away from the 'No Fly Zone," flip the field, and you'll be fine.
"That's probably what we'll see for the rest of the year," said a frustrated Chris Harris Jr. "They don't want me, Aqib [Talib] and [Bradley] Roby to mess the game up. They've kinda figured out that we can give it to the other guys, spread them out, work the middle and kind of beat us that way... That's something we're going to see every week unless we get up on some people."
The Broncos defense doesn't want to point fingers; they're trying hard not to.
"We just have to figure out how to get turnovers somehow, force a fumble, anything," Chris Harris said.
Here's the thing, though, Harris knows it, you know it, and I know it—if your best chance at winning, or even scoring, is creating turnovers, you're gonna have a bad time.
"We're playing good enough to win, but it's just hard to get turnovers," the star corner admitted. "We're not getting those turnovers. Teams are playing different; they're playing a lot more careful and cautious. When they play like that, it's hard to make those plays."
"We have to get up on teams fast, man and just score, man," Harris continued. "If we can score, then more picks are gonna come. If Rivers is stressed out, he has throw the ball more, and he's not so cautious. Think about how many third downs he just saw us bringing the heat and just called timeout, that's not like Rivers really. We have to figure out how to get up, stress them out and make them throw the ball."
Chicken, meet egg. The Broncos need turnovers to score, and they need to score to create turnovers. It's a scary mix because, right now, well, they cant score.
Two weeks in a row the defense has played more than good enough. Two weeks in a row they've given up a score attainable by two touchdowns. Two weeks in a row they've given the offense more than enough chances to get back into the game. Two weeks in a row the Broncos haven't even been close to winning.
People will talk about the Broncos 13 consecutive offensive possessions without scoring a point, but not many will point out the Chargers six-consecutive scoreless possessions in the middle of the game.
A wasted performance?
"Every game is wasted if you lose," Harris said.
All three of the Broncos wins have been wire-to-wire wins. Two of their three losses have been wire to wire losses. It's pretty simple for this team, if you give this defense a lead, they're going to hold on to it, and if you give this offense a hole, they're going to stay in it.
Remind you of anything?
"It definitely felt like last year," the Pro-Bowl corner admitted. "That's something I thought was over with but it's a learning experience every year during the season."
"Definitely high, man," he explained of his frustration level. "It's hard when you can't make those plays that change the game. That's frustrating right there... It's hard to force turnovers. We can't do anything. It's just, it's frustrating, man."
With this formula, it's going to continue to be frustrating.
The Broncos locker room is full of professionals, they know—especially after all the noise last year—that they need to stay together through the hard times. They'll continue to bite their tongue. The Broncos defense, though, doesn't need to point any fingers, because the opposing team is doing it for them.