Broncos, Chargers look to emerge from bottom of AFC West
The Denver Broncos and Los Angeles Chargers are in identical situations heading into their first meeting of the season.
The teams are tied for last place in the AFC West and looking up at the runaway Kansas City Chiefs.
The Broncos play host to the Chargers on Sunday. Both teams enter the game 2-4.
The Broncos continue to rely on their defense, much like they did to win the Super Bowl five seasons ago. At least one player thinks it’s unfair.
“This is a time where the offense has to look in the mirror,” Broncos tight end Noah Fant said Tuesday. “We’re having help from our defense, but what can we do to put points on the board? What can we do to do these things? If we aren’t living up to that expectation, then we have to change something around and get to that point.”
Denver’s offense was a non-factor in the 43-16 loss to Kansas City last Sunday, and it didn’t score a touchdown in an 18-12 win over New England the week before. The Broncos will need more from the offense for a realistic shot at the playoffs.
Quarterback Drew Lock has played unevenly since returning from a shoulder injury against New England. He ran for a score against the Chiefs but threw a pick-six later in the game, one of two interceptions in the game. He has thrown four in two games without a TD pass.
“I could have done a lot better of a job on Sunday — complete easy passes, work through my progressions better, trust our (offensive) line a little more, and that’s fully my plan this week,” Lock said Wednesday. “I’m excited to go do that.”
Lock might have to do it without a couple of big weapons.
Running back Phillip Lindsay is in the concussion protocol and wide receiver Tim Patrick did not practice Wednesday due to a hamstring injury. Tackle Demar Dotson (not injury related), defensive end Shelby Harris (illness, not COVID related) and wide receiver Diontae Spencer (shoulder) didn’t practice.
The Broncos also placed nose tackle Mike Purcell on injured reserve with a season-ending foot injury.
The Chargers have been preparing for Sunday’s game while also dealing with the wildfires in Southern California. Several team staff and players, including rookie quarterback Justin Herbert, were part of the more than 100,000 people evacuated from the area because of the fires.
Herbert has flourished since taking over as the starting quarterback after Tyrod Taylor was injured in the first game of the season. Herbert has thrown for 901 yards, 10 touchdowns and just one interception over the last three weeks. He also rushed for 66 yards and a score in last week’s 39-29 win over Jacksonville.
One of his favorite targets has been wide receiver Keenan Allen, who has averaged eight catches on 55 targets since Herbert moved into the starter’s role. Allen had 10 receptions for 125 yards against the Jaguars and has developed a connection with Herbert.
“He’s a young quarterback that can play in this league,” Allen told ESPN. “And he’s just going to get better. The more reps he gets and more things he can see in the actual game plan — can’t do nothing but learn from (them). We tight, too.”
The Los Angeles players who did not practice Wednesday were tight end Virgil Green (ankle), guard Ryan Groy (biceps) and guard Trai Turner (groin).
The Denver defense will pose a challenge for Herbert and Allen. Despite the 2-4 record, the Broncos have gotten strong play from their defense and nearly kept Kansas City quarterback Patrick Mahomes from registering a touchdown pass for the first time in 17 games last week.
–Field Level Media