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In the midst of an offensive slump — three touchdowns in the last 26 possessions dating back to halftime of the Week 3 win over the New York Jets — Broncos coach Vic Fangio threw his support behind embattled play-caller Pat Shurmur on Monday.
“I have no qualms with Pat other than our results haven’t been good enough and we have to find a way to fix that,” Fangio said.
The Broncos (3-2) have sunk to last on third down (28.6%), 29th in the red zone touchdown rate (42.1%) and 24th in scoring (20.4).
The offense had four three-and-out possessions in Weeks 1-3 and five in the losses to Baltimore and Pittsburgh.
Sunday’s 27-19 loss to Pittsburgh got off to a funky start when the Broncos were called for their first delay of game penalty of the season … on their first snap.
“We just lost sight of the play-clock there in the change of possession got surprised by it,” Fangio said. “It shouldn’t happen, but it did.”
The lack of production offensively in the first half convinced Fangio to send kicker Brandon McManus out for a 39-yard field goal on fourth-and-2 from the 21 and trailing 7-0.
“I did (consider going for it), but we hadn’t been moving it very well and I wanted to get some points,” Fangio said.
Darby rationale. The Broncos activated cornerback Ronald Darby (hamstring) from injured reserve on Saturday, but he was a scratch for the game.
“The reason we activated him was because there was some still question with Pat (Surtain II) and his (chest) injury,” Fangio said. “In Darbs’ case, he had only a little bit of practice (three days) and the medical people had him on a pitch count last week, which we adhered to, and he didn’t feel like he was quite grooved-in so we were hoping we didn’t have to play him.”
Fangio is hopeful Darby can play against Las Vegas.
Jones’ leverage penalty. Dre’Mont Jones’ leverage penalty on a Steelers field goal was a four-point swing because Pittsburgh took the points off the board and cashed in with a touchdown to make it 24-6 instead of 20-6 if it settled for a field goal.
Leverage is when a player jumps or stands on another player — an opponent or teammate — to an effort to block the kick. Replays showed Jones using the body of Steelers long snapper Christian Kuntz to launch himself into a kick-block position.
“I don’t think it was (a penalty),” Fangio said. “He didn’t leverage and lift himself up. We’ve seen several shots of the ones that were more leveraged than that and they weren’t called. We were surprised by that call.”
Ford injured. Fangio said cornerback/special teamer Mike Ford’s leg injury sustained against the Steelers “may keep him out of a couple of weeks.”