ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — The Broncos arrived at the halfway point at 3-5, averaging 15.1 points per game and needing a "Fast & Furious" finish to avoid missing the playoffs for a seventh consecutive season.
If the New York Jets advance, and the Broncos fail, Denver would own the league's longest active postseason drought.
Finding a numbing number defining why the Broncos are the league's most disappointing team — though the Raiders and Colts provide competition — is easy. They have scored one third quarter touchdown, they convert fewer than 30 percent of their third downs, and their six passing scores is tied for last.
Coach Nathaniel Hackett believes the bye week allowed the Broncos to hit the reset button — he went to Vail for the first time — and laser their focus on the final nine games. The unspoken goal for relevancy is to win six of those contests, a tall order with two games vs. the Chiefs and road games at Baltimore and this week's opponent Tennessee.
For the Broncos to rebound — perhaps necessary for Hackett to return for a second season — it starts with significant improvement offensively, starting with quarterback Russell Wilson. He remains on pace for career lows in touchdowns (13) and completion percentage (58.8%). Hackett indicated he would like Wilson to continue showing mobility and making plays with his feet. The Broncos found success with Wilson under center and moving the pocket vs. the Jaguars. Also, it would be a disappointment if they don't continue to mix in uptempo series.
The Broncos have to stay on the field to help their own defense realize its potential.
"We've had some decent drives, then those three-and-outs show up because we haven't been able to convert on those manageable situations," said Hackett, whose Broncos went 2-for-11 on third down vs. Jacksonville. "We have to be better."
Glimmers of optimism emerged in London with the continued rocket boost from tight end Greg Dulcich — he leads rookie tight ends with 182 yards on 12 catches — the deep threat of K.J. Hamler and Jerry Jeudy's improvement (216 yards over his last three games).
Consistency has betrayed the Broncos. And finding it against Tennessee — a team that wants a wrestling match — will be a challenge. It goes back to what general manager George Paton discussed in London. The offense needs to develop an offensive identity, preferably one that centers on Wilson posting roughly 15-to-20 touchdown passes with a 65% completion rate over the final two months. That would create optimism moving forward even without a playoff berth.
"We did some good things and we are going to try and build off that. We are going to make some adjustments on how we do different things on and off the field, but nothing wild," said Hackett, who did stress that there will be more accountability for penalties since no one has drawn more flags than Denver. "We are just continuing to evaluate how we do things and building off this past game."
Edmonds, Martin introduced
New outside linebacker Jacob Martin grew up a Broncos fan of Jake Plummer and Von Miller as he morphed into a star at Cherokee High School. Martin, who will No. 54, appreciates the chance to return home.
"It's surreal," Martin said, not worried about the pressure of helping to replace Bradley Chubb. "I am confident in my ability. I am looking forward to this opportunity."
Edmonds is on his third team in less than two seasons. This was not what he envisioned when he signed a two-year deal with the Dolphins this offseason. One advantage of landing in Denver is that the offense is similar to the one he left in Miami.
"My head won't be spinning on Sunday," Edmonds said.
Graham Glasgow will remain at center with Lloyd Cushenberry out for a few weeks with a groin injury. ...
Baron Browning (hip) has a chance to play Sunday, but Randy Gregory (knee) will not be ready.