After winning the Super Bowl after the 2015 season, the Denver Broncos appear to be heading toward a third straight playoff-less season barring drastic changes on both sides of the ball. They're not going down gracefully either.
Sunday's 34-16 loss to the Jets, which marked their third straight after a 2-0 start, saw the once-vaunted Broncos defense allow 323 rushing yards in addition to three passing touchdowns and 9.0 yards per pass attempt to an offense helmed by rookie quarterback Sam Darnold. The loss came just six days after against the Chiefs, which was preceded by a double-digit loss to the Ravens.
After the latest debacle, the Broncos sounded off.
"Obviously, I'm pissed off," defensive end Derek Wolfe said, per ESPN's Jeff Legwold. "We come off a short week, we're busting our ass, we're playing hard, practicing hard, lifting hard, doing everything we can to be a good player.
"To come out here and lose, the investment is too big. You invest so much money into your body just to take care of your body all week long, thousands of dollars to make sure you're healthy for the game, and come out here and lose, that s--- pisses you off, yeah. It really pisses you off."
He added, "It's the same s--- every week, I'm tired of talking about the same s--- the last two years."
Over the past two-plus seasons, the Broncos are 16-21. For as much attention as the Broncos' unending quarterback problem gets, their defense has gone fromto the kind of defense that allows 512 yards to a bad team trotting out a rookie quarterback.
In 2016, the Broncos' defense finished first in DVOA, but the Trevor Siemian-led offense sputtered, leading to a 9-7 record. In 2017, the quarterback situation remained problematic as 2016 first-round pick Paxton Lynch once again failed to beat out Siemian, and the defense dropped to 10th in DVOA. The Broncos went 5-11. This season, free-agent newcomer Case Keenum has failed to become the franchise quarterback the Broncos are so desperate for, while the defense entered Week 5 ranked 17th in DVOA. That ranking will likely worsen after what happened Sunday.
Over Darnold's previous three games, he completed 53.8 percent of his passes, averaged 6.3 yards per attempt, threw two touchdowns and four interceptions and posted a 63.8 passer rating. Against the Broncos, he completed under 50 percent of his passes but averaged 9.0 yards per attempt, threw three touchdowns and one pick and generated a 98.1 passer rating. Meanwhile, a week after the Broncos' defense allowed 121 rushing yards to Kareem Hunt, they let Isaiah Crowell and Bilal Powell rumble for 219 yards on 15 carries and 99 yards on 20 carries.
They got shredded.
10/22, 198 yds, 3 TDs, 1 INT— New York Jets (@nyjets) October 7, 2018
The best throws from Sam Darnold's first career home W pic.twitter.com/oVojWL6E4M
Wolfe said that while he believes the team can "regroup," there's "something much deeper" happening that he "can't even really understand."
"And it's sad because we got fans behind our bench talking s---, talking about how we don't play with heart and don't play as hard as we can. Bulls---," he said. "We're playing as hard as we can every single snap. This is our livelihood. We're playing for our life out there. Playing for my family, playing for my wife, playing for my brothers beside me. So for someone to say we're not playing with our heart, it's bulls---."
Maybe the Broncos will find a way to rebound. But it likely won't happen next week. They get the undefeated Rams next.