The theme has been consistent coming out of Dove Valley after the loss to the Green Bay Packers that put the team at 0-3 on the season. It’s not only that the team has lost three straight games to open the season, but it’s how they are losing games that is particularly painful.
This week, much like the one before, it was self-inflicted wounds that lost Denver the game. Against the Bears, it was penalties, at the worst possible time. This week, it was an untimely penalty that negated a touchdown, and three turnovers that shifted momentum in key moments.
Brandon Krisztal joined Ryan Edwards and Benjamin Allbright tonight on Broncos Country Tonight on KOA Radio and talked about this very thing and how if Denver was going to turn things around against Jacksonville, they need to play clean football.
Chris Harris talked about it today too at his press conference:
“We’ve done some good things, but we have to learn not to beat ourselves. We’ve been beating ourselves for a couple years lately. We have to be able to end that and get it right and kind of just let that go, man, just put it behind us in the past. We’ve been beating ourselves too long.”
Beating themselves for the last couple of years is probably the best description of what we have witnessed from this team lately.
The theme of self inflicted wounds and beating themselves has been echoed by multiple leaders on this team, a sign that it is not just top of mind for the fans, but players and coaches understand what they need to do. Joe Flacco mentioned this after the game on Sunday:
There’s things we did well, but there’s things we didn’t, whether it’s been penalties or turnovers, missed assignment here or there, it’s something......I’d just like to see us put it all together and have a clean game in terms of penalties, turnovers, assignments. And I think some of those things will stop and we’ll start to be more explosive.”
At the end of the day, you’re making it harder on yourself and that’s why we’re having a tough time putting it all together right now.”
Despite the 0-3 record it seems as though there is still optimism among the team and coaching staff that if these things get cleaned up, this can be a good football team. It all starts up top, and Head Coach Vic Fangio is taking responsibility to coach better.
“We’ve got the players here to win. I believe in these players, I enjoy being around them every day. They’re a bunch of good guys. They’re trying their butts off. We just have to play a little bit better. Along with that, we have to coach better. If we’re breaking down fundamentally in certain areas at critical times, that is an indictment on us as coaches too, not just the players.”
On whether he believes the team can turn things around
“Yeah, and when you say turn around, I’m just looking to get to this game. I’m not looking at the entire season. We’ve just got to figure out a way to go out and play our best and cleanest game this week. And yes, I do think we can.”
Emmanuel Sanders echoed those sentiments as well today during his press conference:
I think we have a good enough team to win now. We’ve just got to stop shooting ourselves in the foot and I feel like that’s what we’ve been doing. Hopefully we can stop doing that.”
To finally put it all together and improve on those fundamentals, the players are ultimately the ones who have to execute on the field. Harris said, “I would say we’re executing probably like 75 percent, not good enough. To be able to win in this league you probably have to execute around 85-90 percent.”
But it’s not just the coaches holding the players accountable to play a clean game, Harris said there are plenty of leaders on the defense as well helping coach guys up:
“We all talk. Me, [DE Derek] Wolfe, [OLB] Von [Miller], [ILB] Todd [Davis], we’ve got plenty of leaders on this defense, but we have a lot of young players too. You have to know how to be able to help and mold those guys to be able to go out there and play with confidence. It’s easy for these young cats to get down on themselves.”
Ultimately, it needs to play out on the field, but I like the mindset from the veteran players and the optimism showed from the coaching staff and the players. This team has potential to be a good football team if they just get over that hump and get out of their own way.
We’ll see if it happens this week.