While it isn’t necessarily a reflection of every player on the team, the majority of men wearing Denver Broncos uniforms is a loser.
That isn’t to be interpreted as a cheap insult, but rather a factual statement.
The team continues to lose simply because that is what they do. The franchise has been in a steadily steeper decline since the retirements of Peyton Manning and Gary Kubiak. Since the exit of the latter, the team has compiled a record 35-66 with zero winning records.
That’s entering seven seasons of losing and losing bad. That’s having zero idea as to what to do about getting a quarterback that can win games or a coach that can put together a winning game plan.
Practice makes perfect, the saying goes, but it works the other way as well. That is to say that the more an act is repeated, the more it becomes habitual and definitive, and that is what has happened to the Denver Broncos.
They lose, lose, and lose some more, and now on their fourth coaching staff in seven seasons, it doesn’t matter who is calling the shots. This is a group of players accustomed to losing, so losing is what they will continue to do.
It was evident when as soon as they received the slightest punch back from the Washington Commanders (who just got goose egged 37-0 by the Buffalo Bills, FYI) after a 21-3 start and immediately began to panic that the team appeared to have an incurable loser mentality. A slight loss of momentum for this team might as well mean game over moving forward.
It was far more evident Sunday in Miami, however, when the white hot Dolphins offense immediately went to work, scoring on the third play of the game when the secondary decided not to cover Tyreek Hill. From that point on, the Dolphins literally did whatever they wanted vs. the Broncos defense, who played as if they’d rather have been anywhere and doing anything but playing football.
It was almost disrespectful to Dolphins QB Tua Tagovailoa, who began the game 17 of 17 completions and basically just went through the motions. He came to play a football game, not go through mundane passing drills.
The score of 70-20, the worst loss this century, should piss this team off. It should be visible when they close their eyes, it should encompass their thoughts. But it won’t. It’s just another loss for a team used to losing. Yeah, it was bad, but to expect this team to come back and play with a chip on their shoulder is so 2015.
No, Justin Fields will see this team next week and put on an MVP level performance that will make everyone wonder why the Broncos passed on him in 2021.
Sean Payton didn’t all of a sudden become a terrible head coach, and believe it or not, the offense and Russell Wilson are vastly improved from a year ago. Yet, plays are still not being made enough on that side of the ball by players needing to make them to offset the historically bad defense opposite them.
A new staff would just be another example of attacking the symptom instead of the disease. It’s a bandaid over a bullet wound. Nothing will change, and in fact, it will likely be worse. No, the only solution moving forward is a complete overhaul of the roster, front office, and certain staff positions.
First and foremost, Vance Joseph should not be allowed back in Denver. He should receive his pink slip before he boards the team plane. He has never been a good coach the entirety of his career in the NFL. He was a bad one-year NFL coordinator who somehow segued it into a head coaching gig with the Broncos, where he was once again terrible. He was then once again a terrible coordinator for the Arizona Cardinals before inexplicably making his way back to Denver.
Again, Payton is not the problem, but he should certainly have to answer for hiring Joseph, and the first course of action should be to move on from him immediately.
Second, let’s talk general manager George Paton. Yes, he’s been pretty much removed from being the primary decision maker, but it was still his moves that have put the Broncos in effectively handcuffs from improving the roster in recent years.
His first draft misses shouldn’t be entirely on him, as no one can predict injuries, but only Pat Surtain II and Quinn Meinerz have been picks that have been truly effective. Running back Javonte Williams had a good rookie season, but even at full health, he has underwhelmed in three games this season. He then sacrificed two future first and second round picks for QB Russell Wilson, who he gave an unprecedented contract to despite never seeing him play in a new system, financially strapping the team.
Paton was responsible for the disaster that was Nathaniel Hackett, a financially crippling Russell Wilson contract, and the inability to draft the team out of the gutter. Again, his role has greatly diminished, but as the architect of Denver’s current situation, he should face consequences, even if they are more or less symbolic than anything else.
Then there are the players themselves. There are no veterans on this team who can inspire the younger players with enthusiasm, confidence, and belief. They haven’t won here and aren’t going to sell the idea to the next generation. Perhaps a change of scenery would be good for each party in this situation, which means even beloved players like Justin Simmons should be on the trade block.
The same should go for younger players, even among the most talented. Surtain, Jerry Jeudy, Quinn Meinerz, etc. should all be shopped. See what kind of value the team could get in return. Surtain alone could warrant two first-round picks.
Making little changes here and there as the franchise has done the past several seasons has essentially been proven to be rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic. The franchise was sinking, is now essentially sunk, and a more extreme measure needs to be taken.
Start from the ground up. Blow it all up and treat the team like an expansion team. Acquire as many picks as can be had, the earlier the better, and commence a hard rebuild.
Is this extreme? Absolutely. But nothing that has been done to improve the franchise in the last seven years has worked, so it’s time to quit putting ointment on that deepening wound expecting it to eventually heal. It won’t.
Because as said earlier, the losing mentality this team has been infected with appears to be incurable. And it’s time to remove it, aggressive as that may sound.