The one thing about winning is you don’t care how you do it – it’s a lot better than losing. Thanks, John Madden.
Such is the case for the Denver Broncos after their 31-28 win over the Chicago Bears on Sunday. Was it perfect? Heck, no. But when you win, and do so down 21 points in the second half to make it happen, that can instill some confidence in a Broncos team that desperately needed some.
It’s also easier to relay the aspects that need to improve after a win and motivate the team not to settle.
“I said this to the team just 15 minutes ago. I said, ‘I’m encouraged that we fought back into that game, but man, let’s not finish today when we’re done watching this tape and feel like we’re content at all with how we played,’” Broncos head coach Sean Payton said to the Denver media on Monday. “(There are) too many things that still are disappointing or things that we have to clean up. Same thing offensively. We stalled for a period after the first touchdown. We went through a third of the game struggling. That sense of urgency has to exist again this week. We’re going to play against a lot better teams here in the next month, month-and-a-half.”
One area that doesn't need improvement is the success of the offense on the opening drive of the game. In the first four games of the season, the Broncos have scored touchdowns on the first drive in three of those games. After the struggles Denver’s offense has had since Peyton Manning retired, that’s quite the accomplishment.
Now the goal is not to have the offense disappear for stretches after that happens.
“We put together a list of 12-to-15 openers, depending on the opponent,” Payton said. “You try to get a few personnel groupings in to see how they’re going to handle certain groups and see how they’re going to handle certain plays. (Sunday) it was apparent right away. We were going to get a lot more Cover 2. We thought that might be the case with some of the injuries they’ve had. Then, it was just making enough plays. The screen pass in third down was a big play by Jaleel (McLaughlin) and Russ (Wilson). It was well-blocked.”
The play of Wilson and the offense in the second half against the Bears could be the harbinger that this team needs.
Given the opponents Denver will face in the coming weeks, that’s the only way it’ll compete.
“He’s a lot like Drew (Brees) in this way,” Payton said to the media. “They kind of see the game, the work, and the journey as glass half full and upbeat. At a time when you’re down 21 points, that momentum can swing very quickly. He was certainly feeling that confidence that, ‘Hey just get us the ball and here we go.’ I think that’s somewhat contagious.”