Demaryius Thomas: 'We're gonna need more offense'

DENVER -- Last year, the Broncoscaptured a title by following a formula for success that seemed cribbed from a bygone era: keep it conservative on offense and rely on a prolific defense to make pivotal plays in the decisive moments of close games.

On Sunday, in their second game of the 2016 season, the defending Super Bowl champions stuck to the script, clinching a 34-20 victory over the visiting Indianapolis Colts on the strength of a pair of fourth-quarter defensive touchdowns.

Yet, as fired up as the 76,379 fans at soon-to-be-renamed Sports Authority Field were about the outcome, which moved Denver (2-0) into sole possession of first place in the AFC West, some Broncos players expressed frustration to about the team's struggles on offense -- and the philosophy which they believe has kept them from flourishing on that side of the ball.

"We're gonna need more offense, that's for sure," receiver Demaryius Thomas said. "It's hard -- you're always putting it on the defense, and at some point, that's tough to count on. There's no reason to keep it close. Last year, a lot of things went our way, but that can catch up to you."

Then, gesturing to fellow wideout Emmanuel Sanders, Thomas continued: "You've got two guys ... damn, the best duo in the league, and we haven't had 100 yards in a game yet. He's got, what, eight catches? I've got nine. I mean ..."

Thomas had five receptions (on seven targets) Sunday for 90 yards, 11 of them coming on a third-and-11 play with three minutes remaining, when Thomas acrobatically lunged for a drive-extending first down. He also caught the two-point conversion that provided the game's final points after Shane Ray picked up an Andrew Luck fumble caused by fellow outside linebacker Von Miller's strip sack. Sanders, targeted eight times, caught balls on the game's first two plays from scrimmage but only one more thereafter, and none after the 8:17 mark of the first quarter.

Given that Thomas signed a five-year, $70 million contract in July 2015 and Sanders inked a three-year, $33 million extension earlier this month, one Broncos player said, "It's like they're wasting their money."

File this one under Lombardi Trophy Problems, but expect the frustration to continue, unless and until the Broncos' offense becomes a bit more prolific.

Running back C.J. Anderson (20 carries, 74 yards), who scored Denver's only offensive TD on a 4-yard run in the second quarter, also expressed exasperation with his unit's lack of punch.

"I don't know if we're frustrated, but we've just got to learn to finish drives," Anderson said. "I don't know if that's us being young, or getting used to a new quarterback [Trevor Siemian], or if it's play-calling, but we can all do better. If we keep relying on [the defense to win games], eventually it's gonna hurt us."

Veteran left tackle Russell Okung, a former Seahawks standout who signed with the Broncos as a free agent last March, also voiced discomfort with the one-sided state of affairs.

"We're tough to play now, and we're not doing things right [on offense]," Okung said. "We're 2-0, and we haven't even scratched the surface.

"Of course there's frustration, because there's a high standard. We want to finish the game, as an offense, and we didn't today. We want to be dependable and show we can finish."

The Broncos also had trouble finishing drives against the Colts (0-2). They reached or surpassed the Indy 25-yard-line on six separate possessions, but came away with only one touchdown. Four times, they settled for Brandon McManus field goals, and Siemian was picked off by cornerback Darius Butler on a second-quarter throw to Sanders.

"We've just got to be better in the red zone," Thomas said. "We had 400 yards of offense, and the defense scored two touchdowns. We scored one. Every time we get on the 30, we just ... we've just got to be better."

Said Okung: "It's interesting, just kind of looking back, in retrospect, after having been in offenses that have had a hard time clicking. ... We have to learn how to stay on schedule. It's doing the little small things, and I just think that's part of having some new guys on offense.

"We're moving the ball, but in the red zone, things get tighter, and windows get smaller. It's understanding and seeing things in the very tightest space, and taking care of the ball. When we do that, we'll be unstoppable."

In the meantime, the Broncos will continue to follow their 2015 blueprint, one that predictably is far more popular in the defensive huddle.

"Man, we've got a formula, and that formula won us a Super Bowl, so we aren't gonna change it," cornerback Chris Harris said. "So [the offensive players] have got to be patient. It's a long season.

"Teams play us differently. They take their time, because they're very aware of how dangerous our defense is. If we could ever get up two touchdowns, when they have to come after us, it'd be Pick City. We just can't get up by two touchdowns."

Cornerback Aqib Talib, whose 46-yard interception return for a touchdown gave the Broncos a 23-13 lead with 13:52 remaining, shrugged off the notion that Thomas (and perhaps Sanders) are frustrated at the lack of production.

"Nah, man, they're wideouts," Talib said. "Man, that's what wideouts do. They don't eat, they get mad. They're gonna have games when they eat, and they're gonna have games when they don't eat. As long as we get the Ws, man ... they'll be alright tonight."

Okung said he looks forward to the offense doing its part -- something he believes is essential to the Broncos' drive for a second consecutive title.

"There's gonna come a time when they need us," Okung said of the Denver defense, "and we're gonna be there for them. We're gonna get better -- I'm sure of it.

"I'm excited to see what we'll be like when we do things right. We'll be the No. 1 offense in the league."

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