The Denver Broncos completed the third preseason game against the St. Louis Rams Saturday night. The Broncos picked up the victory 27-26 after the Rams were unable to convert a 2 point conversion to take the lead with just 39 seconds left. Despite the victory, the Broncos didn't look nearly as crisp as many would have liked and that's ok. It's still just preseason. Your team isn't suppose to look like they're in midseason form.
With all of that said, there are two issues that are reoccurring for the Broncos that must be fixed before September 5th when the Broncos open up the season against the Baltimore Ravens.
The Broncos offense have been plagued by turning the ball over in preseason. The Broncos have coughed up the ball 8 times in the last 2 games. Of those 8 fumbles, 6 were lost to the defense. Running back Ronnie Hillman has truly struggled. On just 22 carries and 3 receptions, Hillman has fumbled 3 times and lost 2 of them to the other team. Offensive coordinator Adam Gase will be hesitant to give Hillman any playing time if he cannot show that he can hold onto the ball. Hillman isn't the only scapegoat, however. The quarterbacks, wide receivers and tight ends have had their fair share of turnovers..
The other issue hampering the Broncos' success is their special teams play. More specifically, the kicking and punting coverage. Denver has only allowed 5 kick returns in three games. That's not the concerning part. What is concerning is the opposing team is averaging over 42 yards per kick return, which included a 107 yard kick return of a touchdown. When given the opportunity to return the ball on a punt, the opposing team has averaged over 16 yards per return. That average is way too high. Even worse, Denver nearly gave up a punt return touchdown against rookie WR Tavon Austin. Austin would return the ball 81 yards against the Denver's special teams, coming within 5 yards of reaching the end zone. The big plays given up must stop.
The Denver Broncos should still be considered as one of the favorites to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl. As talented as their offense is, the only people that can stop them are themselves with mental mistakes and turnovers. The special teams doesn't have to be special for this team to succeed. They need to be solid, however. Giving up points or giving up huge chunks of yards cannot happen regularly. If Denver can fix these issues early on, it should be smooth sailing ahead with a bye week and home playoff game.