The Broncos Red-Zone Failures Lie on the Shoulders of McDaniels
The resounding complaint of Bronco fans this week was the lack of efficiency inside the red-zone. Bronco fans everywhere are calling for the implementation of Tim Tebow in the red-zone game plan. Images of him running over opponents and making superman touchdown passes at will are dancing in their heads.
That's not the way it works in the NFL. The Broncos were horrific in the red-zone last week, 0 for 5. The fact Kyle Orton was under center on those red-zone drives is not where the problem lies. It lies on the sideline with the guys holding the play-books.
Part of the Bronco nightmarish red-zone effort was they went for it twice on fourth down. Including a fourth and three play where an ill-advised fade route was called that was nowhere near being successful. That fade route wasn't even called toward the Broncos biggest receiver, rookie Demaryius Thomas, but Brandon Lloyd, who isn't exactly undersized. Nevertheless, Thomas would have been the better option. There are plenty more high-percentage plays to call in that situation than a fade route.
The call to go for it on fourth and one at the one was no doubt a high-risk, high-reward option. It looked as if McDaniels made the right call. Referees originally ruled Laurence Maroney broke the plane for the Broncos first score. Instant replay ended up biting them in the back. However tempting it is to go for it in that situation, I think the right call would have been to take the three points and get on the board. The Broncos were already down 13-0 and had turned the ball over twice. It's hard enough to beat Peyton Manning under those circumstances. Going for it in that situation was asking for insult to injury.
It's easy to make these judgments in hindsight. But something does need to change in the Broncos red-zone execution, or lack thereof. I would not be opposed to putting Tebow in, especially at the one or two-yard line. He's the bigger quarterback. Why not try to pound it in? Tebow is not the ultimate solution, however, play-calling is. All the hype about Tebow deserving to be the starter after Sunday's performance is ridiculous. Orton threw for 476 yards. It's not his fault the running game was non-existent.
The Colts scored 10 points off the muffed punt by Perrish Cox and the interception by Orton. They also scored a touchdown on the drive after the Bronco failed fade route. That's 17 points for the Colts off of miscues and poor play-calling. You can't expect to have that happen and beat Manning.
At the end of the day, McDaniels needs to be more diverse with the play-book in the red-zone. Try some boot legs, play action passes, screens, etc. Make things happen. You can't expect to keep going for it on fourth down. Especially when the Colts will make you pay for it if you don't convert. When you get the ball inside the five-yard line, it's imperative you score.
Find a new way to get it done.