ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) — Teddy Bridgewater insists the Denver Broncos can correct all the mistakes, miscalculations, and misfires that have plagued them in the red zone this season.
The Broncos (5-5) have scored touchdowns on just half of their 34 trips inside their opponents’ 20-yard line, a rate that ranks 29th in the NFL, ahead of only winless Detroit, Washington, and the New York Giants.
That’s actually worse than last year when they ranked 27th with a 53.3% conversion rate under quarterback Drew Lock.
“Just watching the film this past week, the opportunities that we’ve had, the near-misses, and it’s like OK, all those things can be fixed,” Bridgewater said Wednesday before the team’s second practice coming off its bye week.
“And that’s the thing about this game: it’s never as bad, it’s never as good. When you have time to step away and watch and do some self-scouting, you come away looking at things totally different as opposed to in the moment, when you’re like, ‘Man, that was really bad,’” Bridgewater said.
“And of course, some of it has been bad. But you can always be better and that’s the mindset moving forward.”
So, what specifically do the Broncos need to do differently beginning with their game Sunday against the Los Angeles Chargers (6-4) to eliminate all the errors that have prevented them from averaging more than 20 points a game and are threatening to keep them out of the playoffs for a sixth straight season?
“Just doing it. Simple as that, yeah,” Bridgewater said. “You watch in on tape, now it’s just time to go do it.”
The Broncos’ wretchedness in the red zone is nothing new.
They haven’t ranked in the top half of the league since 2014 when they were fourth-best. Since then, they’ve ranked 27th or worse in the 32-team league six times in seven years.
Another stubborn deficiency is the team’s third-down conversion rate. They rank 28th this season at 34.7%. Like the red zone foibles, that’s worse than last year, when they ranked 25th at 38.7%.
Since 2013, when they ranked first with a whopping 48.1% conversion rate on third down, the Broncos have ranked in the top half of the league just twice and five times they’ve ranked in the bottom five.
“Just making plays, that’s the thing,” Bridgewater said. “It’s not like we’re just lining up and playing bad football. You watch us and we’re in third-and-8s, third-and-10-plus and in this league it’s hard to convert those. I don’t care how good you are, the percentages don’t really work in your favor.
“So, we’ve got to avoid those (bad plays) on first and second downs, just the negative plays, whether it’s a false start — I had a false start last week — whether it’s a holding penalty. If you run the ball and you lose 2 yards, OK, defense makes plays, you know what I mean?”
The Broncos were just 1-for-11 on third down in their previous game, a 30-13 loss at home to the Eagles two weeks ago that sent them tumbling into their bye week on a bad note.
“Execution. At home, man, we’ve shot ourselves in the foot, turned the ball over. We’ve had penalties, negative plays,” Bridgewater said. “So, eliminate those things man and we (diminish) the chance of losing the game.”
NOTES: There is growing optimism OLB Bradley Chubb will play Sunday. Coach Vic Fangio said Chubb, who hasn’t played since undergoing ankle surgery in September, had a successful return to practice this week. “I thought he looked good (Monday), and he felt good,” coach Vic Fangio said. “Hopefully (he’ll) do a little bit more today and then see where he’s at.” … The Broncos activated G Austin Schlottmann from the reserve/COVID-19 list and designated ILB Micah Kiser (groin) for return. … S Kareem Jackson (shoulder/neck) sat out practice.