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Russell Wilson emphasizes third-quarter improvement ahead of Broncos' matchup with Panthers

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — As the Broncos look to improve their offensive performance, they'll focus their attention on a 15-minute period that has been particularly unkind to them during a difficult start to the season.

Denver has struggled at times throughout games and has averaged just 14.7 points per game, but the Broncos have seen those issues intensify during the third quarters of games.

Through 10 weeks, the Broncos have scored just 10 offensive points in the third quarter — a field goal against the Colts and a touchdown against the Jaguars. Denver has averaged just 1.2 points per game in the third quarter, which ranks last in the NFL. The Jets, who have scored the third fewest points in the third quarter, have doubled the Broncos' average output.

"We've got to come out and have a better third quarter," quarterback Russell Wilson said. "Our third quarters have been … part of why we are where we are. Not even part of it  — a big part of it. We've had pretty good first halves for the most part, decent. Some have been better than others. The third quarter has slowed us down tremendously. That's something that I'm really focused on over the next few days and then obviously going into this game and the rest of the games we have this year. Hopefully we can turn it around."

The Broncos have had 27 possessions in the third quarter, and they've averaged 18.3 yards per drive. In addition to their touchdown and field-goal drives, nineteen of their possessions ended with a punt and four ended in a turnover. The Broncos missed field goals on the other two possessions.

As the Broncos look to end their struggles after halftime, Offensive Coordinator Justin Outten pointed to the need to improve on third down to stay on the field.

The Broncos rank 31st in third-down percentage, and they were just 3-of-12 on third down in Week 11.

"I think it boils down to third down," Outten said. "I don't think it's necessarily a first- and second-half thing. I think it's third down. Going through the whole process and looking at everything, we have not been very efficient at all. This is something that we're really honing in on."

If Denver can carry some of the first-half success it found against the Titans and Raiders into the extra frame, it could help the Broncos find the needed improvement on the offensive side of the ball.


While the Broncos aim to improve on offense, Head Coach Nathaniel Hackett has been able to spend more time across all aspects of the organization after passing off play-calling duties to Passing Game Coordinator/Quarterbacks Coach Klint Kubiak.

"It's been great," Hackett said of his week. "I was in special teams meetings. I'm still very heavily involved with the offense and being in the quarterback room as much as I can. I'm just being sure that I'm around to see more things — see how things are coached and see how things are executed out on the practice field to see if there's something that I can catch, I can help correct, or just even how it's taught. I think it's been great up to this point. I'm seeing more guys, I'm able to be around, and I'm not feeling guilty if all of a sudden you get stuck and have to talk with somebody and not race to a meeting. So, I think it's been really good so far."

During the game against the Raiders, Hackett said his communication with Wilson largely remained the same, despite not talking to him through his helmet speaker.

"We were talking about the next series that was up and the next plays that we were going to get to," Hackett said. "I was on the headset, hearing everything, knowing what's going to happen and understanding the game plan. I was making sure [Wilson] was solidified with what we're going to be doing each series."

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