Broncos share in blame, vow that they’ll improve
AP Pro Football Writer
ENGLEWOOD — Suddenly, the Denver Broncos have a whole lot more to worry about than their spongy offensive line, and testy coach John Fox said Monday he wants frustrated fans to know he feels their pain.
“We’re not too happy with the results, either,” Fox said in the wake of Denver’s second double-digit road loss in three weeks. But, he added: “There’s no panic inside the building.”
And he stressed that Denver’s latest loss can’t just be pinned on his scuffling, shuffling O-line, either.
“Offensively we didn’t execute enough,” Fox said. “It’s not all on the O-line. I want to make that point.”
The Broncos’ latest loss, a 22-7 stunner at St. Louis, proved extra costly. They not only fell into a tie atop the AFC West with Kansas City, but they lost Julius Thomas, Emmanuel Sanders and Montee Ball to injuries.
Thomas’ sprained left ankle was deemed less serious than feared, and he is day to day. Sanders is in the league’s concussion protocol and a long shot to play in Sunday’s showdown against Miami (6-4). And Ball appears headed for more time off after aggravating a strained right groin in his first action since Oct. 5.
The three were injured when the Broncos (7-3) lost to a sub-.500 team on the road for the first time since Tim Tebow was their quarterback in 2011.
Just as he had after a big loss at New England three weeks ago, Peyton Manning took the blame. “I’ve got to play better,” Manning said three times after Sunday’s loss.
On Monday, Fox said he and his staff have to coach better.
This marked just the sixth time in Manning’s 250 career regular-season games that his team scored seven points of less. Two of those came in the first month of his rookie season in 1998, two came in meaningless regular-season finales (1999 and 2009), and another came in 2001, at Miami.
Manning was sacked twice, knocked down four times and watched a dozen of his passes get batted down. He threw 54 passes and handed off just nine times, a formula Fox admitted wasn’t a good recipe.
“There’s no doubt that to be the kind of team we want to be we have to run the ball more,” Fox said.
Center Will Montgomery smiled at the thought.
“Yeah, I think we definitely prefer running the ball versus trying to backpedal with those athletes for that many snaps,” he said. “We’d like to take the fight to them.”
C.J. Anderson said offensive coordinator Adam Gase apologized for the run-pass disparity, but the running back noted it was the players who didn’t make it work, and “whether it’s 90 passes and one run, whatever’s called, you’ve just got to go out there and execute.”
In addition to the run-pass ratio that was off-kilter, Fox lamented his offense failing to reach the red zone after entering the game with the league’s second-highest scoring average (31.8).
Fox defended his decisions to forgo long field goal tries, saying Brandon McManus’ range was only 50 yards inside the dome. He stressed, “It has nothing to do with confidence level of anybody.”
McManus has been dealing with a strained groin and that might have been a factor in Fox’s thinking. But the Broncos went 0 for 3 on fourth downs in Rams territory.
“We did what I would consider being aggressive,” said Fox, who’s been labeled as a coach who’s too conservative. “You could punt for field position. You know, going for it on fourth down is in my mind more aggressive than kicking a field goal.”
NOTES: Practice squad QB Zac Dysert left the team Monday to be with his family after getting word that his mother, Carla Dysert, 56, had been killed in an auto accident in his hometown of Ada, Ohio. … Champ Bailey will sign a 1-day contract Tuesday so he can retire a Bronco.
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