ENGLEWOOD — For the second straight week, the Broncos' offense looked dysfunctional for nearly the entire game.
But unlike last week against the Ravens, the excuse of being without their starting quarterback, Teddy Bridgewater who suffered a concussion, was not an option. The offense was simply not good in the Broncos' 27-19 loss to the Steelers, until it had to be, late in the fourth quarter in which they scored two touchdowns and nearly came back, having four opportunities to score inside the 10-yard line with under a minute to play.
The Broncos weren't particularly close to scoring on those four plays, either, with the final play being an interception on a desperation throw to the back of the end zone.
"We had some opportunities," coach Vic Fangio said Monday. "We just didn't make the plays. Give them credit for making a stop."
The offensive playcalling has been questioned since the loss, with a good majority of fans and media placing the blame on offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur, who is in his second year with the Broncos. Shurmur's offense hasn't showcased many explosive plays, other than a couple jaw-dropping runs by rookie Javonte Williams and a few deep balls caught by Courtland Sutton.
Other than those several plays, the offense has often been uninspiring the last two weeks. And it wasn't all that perfect against the Giants, Jaguars and Jets, either, which are a combined 2-13.
" I've got no qualms with Pat, other than our results haven't been good enough," Fangio said. "And we've got to find a way to fix that."
The offensive line has struggled at times in both the run game and pass protection. Other than Sutton, Tim Patrick and Noah Fant, the Broncos appear to need at least one more pass-catcher after losing Jerry Jeudy and KJ Hamler to injury.
The Broncos have shown an inability to score in the first quarter, only netting 13 first-quarter points this season, which ranks 25th in the NFL.
"We just have to start the game with a little bit more urgency," Fangio said. "And get into it quicker."
The Broncos aren't scoring touchdowns in the red zone, ranking 29th in the NFL with a touchdown percentage of 42.1%.
"When it comes to goal-to-go situations, I think that — the field is really short," right guard Graham Glasgow said. "It comes down to every single person on the offense has to execute and I think that the majority of the time, 10 out of 11 guys are doing it but that one out of 11 is kind of biting us in the ass."
The Broncos also rank last in third-down conversion percentage at 28.57%.
"Obviously our first and second down offense has to be better, both in the run game and pass game. So we're not in so many third and longs," Fangio said. "But when you do get in third and longs, you've got to be able to convert some of them. You can't get shut out."
The good news for the Broncos is that Jeudy should return in the near future — likely no later than Oct. 31 against Washington.
As Fangio said, it's going to take everyone from Shurmur to Bridgewater to himself to figure out the offense's woes. So what gives Fangio confidence the offense can turn it around, after saying Sunday the offense's struggles were "concerning?"
"I've seen them do it," Fangio said. "And I know they're capable of it."