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Garett Bolles (72) of the Denver Broncos rests during an injury timeout against the Oakland Raiders during the second half of the Raiders' 24-16 win on Monday, September 9, 2019. (Photo by AAron Ontiveroz/The Denver Post)
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The Broncos are exactly who we thought they were

(Photo by AAron Ontiveroz/The Denver Post)

After a horrific loss on Monday night in Oakland, the Broncos are proving exactly who we thought they were. Denver is off to an 0-1 start for the first time since 2011 when they lost to the Raiders on “Monday Night Football” in Denver.

The Broncos are in trouble and that shouldn’t be a surprise.

Who are the 2019 Denver Broncos? This is a team with a ceiling of an 8-8 record, a team that has issues at the inside linebacker position, a team that struggles in pass protection, has no tackling on special teams and suffers from inexperience on the offensive play calling.

The Broncos proved against the Raiders that they’re going to continue struggling covering opposing tight ends. Oakland targeted their tight ends 10 times, which turned into nine receptions for 90 yards. Denver is a team who ranked 26th in the NFL last season covering the tight ends, giving up an average of 64 yards per game.

Nothing has changed on that front.

The offensive line has struggled since the middle of the 2014 season and the line continues to struggle this season. In the run game, the Broncos o-line played decent in Oakland, despite the fact that there were a couple plays in which Garett Bolles had no idea who to block at the line or even down field. Phillip Lindsay would have had a touchdown except for the fact that Bolles missed two blocks on the play. We also can’t ignore that Joe Flacco was sacked three times in Monday night’s opener.

It’s more of the same in the trenches.

It’s understandable that the offense might struggle to start the season under Rich Scangarello since he is a first time NFL play caller. But if the Broncos are in a “win now” window, why would you hire a rookie offensive coordinator? The potential for Scangarello could be through the roof, but for a team that thinks they’re Super Bowl contenders the hire makes no sense; it’s reminiscent of the promotion to Joe Woods in 2017.

The play calling has to be better and more creative for the Broncos to be successful in 2019. Handing the ball off to the tight end on a jet sweep to start the game is not smart. Scangarello needs to find mismatches just like Kyle Shanahan and Josh McDaniels do with their high-powered offenses.

If Denver wants to be more creative on offense, they need to away a little bit from the “Shanahan offense.” Denver can be scary good if they use Lindsay like Carolina uses Christian McCaffrey in the run and passing games or even like the Bears use Tarik Cohen. It would also be smart to place Emmanuel Sanders in the slot position and use him just like the Patriots use Julian Edelman.

The Broncos remain stuck in the ’90s on offense.

On special teams, it’s time for Tom McMahon to realize that his coverage team will struggle on returns. McMahon should force punter Colby Wadman to just kick the ball out of bounds and coffin corner every punt. McMahon also needs to have Brandon McManus kick every kickoff out of the end zone so that there is no kick return because the Broncos can’t allow their opponents to have good field position or allow a touchdown.

The special teams haven’t improved.

It’s time to realize the ceiling for this team is now 7-9. In order for the Broncos to win and be successful, this team needs to be creative and use common sense to not overthink everything they do on the field. If it’s third-and-one, go ahead and line up under center in the I formation and run the ball or even use a quarterback sneak.

The Broncos are on pace for their third-consecutive losing season. That will happen unless they adjust this week because they don’t have time to mess around.