Good morning, Broncos Country!
The Week 4 loss to the Raiders still stings, but with a game in two days, there is a lot less time to dwell on it.
And that’s a very good thing.
“We just had a battle via yesterday and now we got another one right around the corner,” head coach Nathaniel Hackett said, adding he personally looks forward to getting back on the field to prove themselves again. “I think all of us as a team, we want to get back out there and we want to go back to work. It’s a close turnaround. That’s part of it and we’re excited to get back out on the field.”
Although the Broncos are banged up - with Russell Wilson even listed on the injury report - the short turnaround is an opportunity to head into a mini-bye week with a win.
And spending 10 days reflecting on a victory is a lot more fun than hand-wringing over another loss.
But turning that sick-to-your-stomach-after-losing-to-the-Raiders feeling around isn’t going to be easy.
This Colts team is a bit of a conundrum.
Coming in with a paltry 1-2-1 record, Indy is a lot better than the standings, having tied the Texans in Week 1 (a team the Broncos barely beat the following week), getting shutout by an improved Jaguars team in Week 2 and then beating a Chiefs team in Week 3 that everyone was assuming was already in midseason form, but then losing by a touchdown to a 2-2 Titans team on Sunday.
Quarterback Matt Ryan threw for 356 yards and two touchdowns in Sunday’s losing effort, but found great connection with multiple receivers, including Mo Alie-Cox, who was 6-for-6, 85 yards and the target of both of Ryan’s TD passes.
With Justin Simmons sidelined a few more weeks, and PJ Locke in concussion protocol plus Caden Sterns on the injury report (hip/chest) plus a couple cornerbacks with “limited” status today (K’waun Williams and Darius Phillips, the secondary could have a rough day.
Thankfully Patrick Surtain - who has been an absolute monster on the field - appears to be doing just fine.
Every week @PatSurtainll is putting clinical reps on TAPE against elite WRs!— Richard Sherman (@RSherman_25) October 2, 2022
Although running back super stud Jonathan Taylor is questionable for Thursday’s game -after suffering a minor ankle sprain Sunday - the Broncos defense is still licking its wounds, both literally and figuratively, after Sunday.
Gashed for 144 yards by one running back, the Broncos run defense took a morale hit on Sunday - at least it should have. If Taylor doesn’t suit up, Denver may have its best opportunity to get that run defense back on track.
The Colts will not have linebacker Shaquille Leonard, who is in the concussion protocol, which is a plus for the Broncos offense.
Russell Wilson will be looking to build on progress made with his wide receivers Sunday, who caught a combined 17 passes for 237 yards - including touchdowns to Jerry Jeudy and Courtland Sutton plus a key first down bomb to KJ Hamler, his first catch of the regular season.
“I thought we did some really great things. In the first half, we really executed well, made some big plays....And then the third quarter, we hurt ourselves. third and 18, third and 19, third and 20,” Wilson said. “Our defense battled. We believed that we were going to win the game. They obviously made that touchdown on that last drive, and I still thought we could win it. That’s just the mentality that I have and the mentality that we have together.”
And it will be an opportunity for Melvin Gordon to not just redeem himself to fans but prove to himself and his teammates they can rely on him to secure the ball.
After Hackett avoided a question about his confidence in Gordon during the post-game presser - saying only that “you can’t put the ball on the ground” - he did offer a more encouraging viewpoint on Monday.
“Melvin is a true pro. This is a guy that’s been doing this for a long time. He’s harder on himself than anybody,” Hackett said. “He’s part of our team and we love the guy. He knows there was a mishap right there. It’s a great opportunity for him to get back out in the field and prove himself.”
The mishap was a fumble late in the second quarter that popped right into the hands of Amik Robertson, who ran it all the way from midfield into the end zone.
With a season-ending injury to Javonte Williams in the game, Gordon will likely be heavily relied upon as third-stringer Mike Boone and recently signed Latavius Murray get up to speed on the playbook.
Hackett highlighted Gordon’s good rushing so far this year as well as his key touchdown last week.
“He’s running the ball really well. He’s going downhill, he’s exploding through the hole and we want to see that continue,” Hackett said. “Like I said, he’s a true pro and I expect for him to step up and have a great game.”
Wilson had also had nothing but encouragement for Gordon in his post-game presser on Sunday.
“Melvin, he works so hard every day. You guys should see him pre practice, post practice, the amount of time he puts in, the extra catches, the stuff he does running across the field just to get the extra reps, and just how he takes it to the house every time,” Wilson said. “I told him, I said, ‘You’re one of the best guys that ever played this game at this position, and don’t forget that.’ ...there is going to be some mistakes along the way. The best ones, they respond, and I believe in Melvin Gordon responding.”
Although the Broncos came up short against the Raiders on both offense and defense, the coach and his QB believe the team is so close to being the team Broncos Country has been expecting.
“I think that we’re right there. I think we did some really special things [Sunday]. I think some folks made some great plays, we battled, and did some really great things,” Wilson said. “I think how you get the guys back into it is, how could you not? What a great opportunity to respond. That’s what championship-type teams do. We got to respond, we got to battle, we got to overcome obstacles.”
Noting the talent on the Colts, Wilson reiterated that the Broncos just have to respond by battling back to the win column.
“We got to be able to respond. The good thing is you got to have amnesia. You got to be able to forget what went really well and forget what didn’t go so well and just be focused on the next moment.”
He and his team will have an excellent chance on Thursday to practice that amnesia.
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