Payton points out flaws

Penalties, poor time management key for winless Broncos




The Gazette, Colorado Springs


ENGLEWOOD • Well, at least the Broncos had one fewer penalty in Week 2 than in Week 1. After the Broncos committed 10 penalties in a 17-16 loss to Las Vegas in the opener, Sean Payton grumbled how they were “hurt” by flags. Then Denver had nine penalties in Sunday’s 35-33 loss to Washington at Empower Field at Mile High. But that hardly was enough of an improvement to satisfy the first-year coach. “Before you talk about how to win games, you also have to understand how not to lose games,” Payton said Monday. “We’re currently tied for a league-high 19 penalties. We lead the league defensively with defensive fouls called, with 12. (We have) five personal fouls. We have a number of plays where we’re off the field on third down, but there’s a flag on the turf, there’s holding or defensive pass interference, which makes it an automatic first down. “Instead of being off the field, those are turnover penalties. We have to be better and more disciplined in that area, and that starts with us as coaches.” Payton came to Denver looking to instill discipline. During their 0-2 start the Broncos have been awful in that area. The five personal fouls include two for unnecessary roughness by safety Kareem Jackson, who was ejected with 1:47 left in the first half Sunday when he was flagged for going at the head area of Washington tight end Logan Thomas when Thomas caught a 4-yard touchdown pass. Thomas suffered a concussion and was lost for the game. At least the Broncos learned Monday that Jackson, who was fined $14,819 for a Week 1 hit that knocked Raiders receiver Jakobi Meyers out of that game with a concussion and sidelined him for Sunday’s game at Buffalo, won’t be suspended by the NFL for his latest infration. The Broncos were penalized for 58 yards against Washington, down from 83 against the Raiders. But even the 5-yard infractions hurt a team with a minuscule margin for error. With the Commanders up 28-24 with 11:17 left in the game, Drew Sanders and Jonathon Cooper looked to have sacked Sam Howell on thirdand-8 at their 38. But Fabian Moreau was called for holding, giving the Commanders a first down. They soon scored to go up 35-24. “We’ve just got to clean (the penalties) up,’’ said Broncos linebacker Alex Singleton. “We’ve got to keep working on it. Whether we think they’re penalties or not, in certain situations they’re calling them. ... Fundamental techniques. That’s all it has to be. We’ve got to be better at those. We’ve got to erase those (penalties) to get off the field and be able to win football games.” While the defense has had more penalties than the offense, there are also significant issues for the Broncos to clean up on offense heading into Sunday’s game at Miami. Payton spoke after the loss to Washington about Denver’s issues with clock management, and he is looking to do something about speeding up the play calling. “The first thing that we always try to look at, we have to do a better job of as coaches, is reduce the verbiage,’’ Payton said. “If we have a longer play, then we can easily get to a wristband (worn by quarterback Russell Wilson). We have to reduce the variables.” Payton, who was infuriated by the Broncos burning three timeouts in the first half and having other clock issues during the game, offered three solutions for getting the play call in more quickly to Wilson, who then gives it to the offense. “One of the methods is to reduce verbiage,’’ Payton said. “The other is to get to the line of scrimmage spontaneously. The other is to wristband certain plays that are longer calls.” Stay tuned Sunday to see what might be different with Denver when it comes to eliminating penalties and speeding up play calls. One thing that already is different with the Broncos is how they will be looked upon entering the game at Miami, which is 2-0 after road wins of 36-34 over the Los Angeles Chargers and 24-17 over New England on Sunday night. The Broncos were favored by 3.5 points in each of their first two games, both at home. Now they are 6.5-point underdogs against the Dolphins. “We need to improve,’’ said center Lloyd Cushenberry. “No one’s going to believe in us now. Everybody’s counting us out. We’ve got a long season to go, though. We’ve got 15 more games and a whole season ahead of us. So when we turn this thing around, we’ll see who’s still with us.” If the Broncos can limit their penalties and do a better job with clock management, that will give them a much better chance of turning things around.