Courtland Sutton spoke with the Broncos Country Tonight crew Monday with their usual live audience at Buffalo Wild Wings, and if you’re feeling a little discouraged about this team, give it a listen because it definitely lifted my spirits about the Broncos - about how the players are dealing with the 0-4 start, about the energy of the young players, about their belief in the coaches.
I have to admit, my concern for the direction of the team (not worry!) had been mounting yesterday after watching the loss unfold Sunday afternoon, followed by reading way too much “gloom and doom” on MHR and Twitter (reminder note to self: DO NOT go to either place after a loss!) and finally by hearing the news that Bradley Chubb is out for the season with an ACL tear.
But listening to Sutton’s interview, I was reminded that the Broncos do have a lot of exciting young talent to build upon and without getting too lost on speculation of what John Elway will do or won’t do with “building and/or rebuilding” this team this season and beyond, I decided to adopt Joe Rowles’ current M.O.
The reality is this year's #Broncos squad ain't going to the playoffs. Instead of raging and blaming every single problem ad nauseam, my plan is to focus on the good individual performances and start to focus on how to build the next contender.— Joe Rowles (@JoRo_NFL) September 30, 2019
And Courtland Sutton isn’t a bad place to start.
The second-year wide receiver is certainly showing promise for an eventual WR1, and his outlook about the current situation is a healthy one that will only be good in that locker room.
“You have to have a short memory. If you are dwelling on the last game, you’re not fully prepared for the upcoming game,” he said, noting that it’s something the entire team has to help each player do to get on the same page for the next week and not dwell on the negative.
Sutton is giving himself the proverbial 24 hours to look back at the Jags game to break down the film and then move on to the next challenge. And while most fans have decided an 0-4 start means the season is over, Sutton is find shooting for the odds on this one.
“You never know. You can start off 0-4 and win eight straight. Anything can happen,” he said. “Just because our record is 0-4, if you watch the games, you can see we’re not really an 0-4 team.”
I know many of you will argue this team is exactly what its record shows, given the holes at certain positions and the lack of depth, but personally I like Sutton’s outlook.
It’s what a player on the team should be focusing on - how to improve and get a win rather than lamenting what they don’t have or can’t get. He’s not giving up, and he’s believing in what he can control - his routes, his catches, his ability to score...something he did quite well on Sunday.
Sutton’s 62 yards and two touchdowns - including a clutch end zone catch that was the go-ahead score and momentarily a game-winner - along with the offensive line’s no-holding penalty day are things to celebrate and build upon.
“We’re trying to play clean football. When you get a penalty and it puts you behind the sticks, [it really hurts,] so the offensive line has been working their butts off, trying so hard to contribute and do their part,” Sutton said. “It’s not going unnoticed in the film room how well those guys are playing. It’s a stride in the right direction. And a big positive.”
John Elway, on @KOAColorado: “It is” the toughest time for him in the time he’s been around the franchise … “I think we still have the football players to win, and it’s just a matter of getting over the hump … I know that we still have a good enough team to win football games."— Andrew Mason (@MaseDenver) October 1, 2019
Sutton also gave huge props to rookie lineman Dalton Risner, something that is becoming a habit for all the guests on the BCT show.
“Oh man that dude is a baller,” Sutton said upon learning Risner will be the guest next Monday night. “He’s a great person too, but man he is a great football player. He loves the game. You can tell he loves the game. He comes out with great energy. You’d think he’d been in the league a while the way he handles himself. It’s awesome to see him develop every week.”
And then there is the progress the entire offense made by being able to not just have sustained drives (despite the drought in the third quarter and most of the fourth on Sunday), which Sutton says is giving the offense more and more confidence to recognize its role to help out the defense.
“We’re moving ball, getting first downs, giving ourselves a chance to score and also giving the defense a spell so they can be fresh and go out there and get some balls,” Sutton said, adding that they know they have to capitalize every opportunity because chances to score are not easy to come by. “Any opportunity we can get, three or seven. It has to be three or seven every time because you don’t know if you’ll get the opportunity back.”
Sunday’s improved ability to score in the red zone, the offense’s ability to drive down at the end and make a run at a comeback were not enough but were positives that Sutton said are “100 percent validation” for the direction of Rich Scangarello’s vision.
“It gives us hope that the path we’re on is the right path, and Coach Rich is putting us in the right position to win,” Sutton said, noting that the offense would “drive and stall, drive and stall” against the Raiders and Bears before breaking through against the Packers with some success and then even more improvement against the Jaguars. “We are trending in the right direction.”
Sutton was asked if the team was shifting to more of an offensive-minded team, and the young wideout wasn’t ready to make that call, but he did note the offense believes it is not just going to plan on a nine-point game and hope for the defense to save the game.
“This year, offensively we’re able to go in and contribute ... actually go out there and put points on the board and give the defense a chance,” he said, adding that it felt good last week to have a lead for once (even though it dwindled away) and that defenses are recognizing the Broncos’ offense is no longer just a one-trick pony.
“We have too many weapons for teams to just dial in on one person,” Sutton said, noting that in the scheme the “ball can go anywhere” and it has been whether it’s Emmanuel Sanders or Noah Fant or Royce Freeman or DaeSean Hamilton. “It’s awesome to have so many weapons.”
Sutton knows it’s not easy to pull for an 0-4 team, but he’s doing his part to change the win-loss record.
“Once that first win hits, it’s going to be a ride to be part of,” he said, “and I hope everybody is still on board with the Broncos because we’re a really good team and we’re really really close.”