When describing the 2017 season, Broncos fans have probably described it as a repeat of the 2016 season but worse. In both years, the Broncos offense was one of the worst in the league while the defense was one of the best.
However, the already anemic offense of 2016 got much worse in 2017 and the defense could not overcome. That being said, there are several ways in which the Broncos’ season of 2017 was an encore of 2016 and these similarities should shape the goals for next season in an effort to overcome Denver’s Deja Vu.
Deja Vu For The 2017 Denver Broncos
The similarities began with the very first game of the season. The season opener of both seasons was decided by the result of a missed field goal — one by the Panthers’ Graham Gano in 2016 and one by Chargers’ YoungHoe Koo in 2017.
Additionally, both games were played in primetime. The Broncos played in the 2016 season opener hosted by NBC and then played the following year in the final game of week one on Monday Night Football on ESPN.
Divisional Déja Vu
In terms of wins and losses, the Broncos also had an identical experience in divisional games over the last two years.
They were swept by the Kansas City Chiefs both years, losing one game each year by a field goal and the other by multiple possessions.
Also, the Broncos went 1-1 against the Chargers in 2016 and 2017 with both losses coming in their away matchups.
Moreover, the Broncos went 1-1 against the Raiders in 2016 and 2017, losing both away games each season.
Interestingly, the Broncos faced the Raiders’ backup quarterback in two of those games even though their starting quarterback, Derek Carr, missed snaps in only four games total (including postseason) because of his leg injury sustained at the end of 2016 and his back injury sustained at the beginning of 2017.
The Broncos did a lot of losing and they did it at similar times across 2016 and 2017. For instance, they lost after their bye week both years — once to the Kansas City Chiefs and once to the New York Giants.
Overall, the most damning similarity between the two seasons is the fact that the Broncos started strong and did not make the playoffs in either year. In 2016, the Broncos were 4-0 after the first four weeks. It seemed that the Broncos were going make the playoffs easily but the Broncos went 5-7 after that and missed the cut.
The following year, the Broncos were 3-1 and in prime position to make the playoffs again. However, they again fell quickly and missed the playoffs in a similar fashion, finishing the season with a ghastly — by Broncos standards — 5-11 record.
Breaking The Pattern: Three Needed Improvements
Firstly, the Broncos need to find a way to win in away divisional matchups. They are 0-6 over the last two years in divisional matchups that take place at the opponent’s stadium.
If they can make the record a bit easier on the eyes, then they should be able to reach the next goal rather easily: the Broncos need to go above .500 after starting the first quarter of the season strong. If Denver starts out 3-1 or better over the first four weeks of next season, they simply must find ways to continue to win down the stretch.
Finally, Denver needs to not let their season opener come down to a field goal. The attempt has gone their way twice in a row and it is unlikely that the Broncos will win in that situation again.