Sean Payton recalled times when he was coaching under Bill Parcells and the head coach would ask Payton “to create a crisis” because he didn’t want the team getting too complacent - a psychological ploy to make sure guys were focused.
Well, Payton admitted Friday he doesn’t have to create a crisis for the Denver Broncos right now.
If the Broncos needed a “Come to Jesus” moment, they got one.
“The crisis—well, we don’t have to worry about creating a crisis if it’s real, right? We have a crisis,” he said.
That crisis is obviously being winless and having a schedule ahead that may not have many potential wins on it.
But if the Broncos are going to have their best chance at winning a game, it might be this weekend against the also 0-3 Chicago Bears.
If there was ever a recipe for reversing a winless record, it’s playing another winless team.
The Bears have struggled on offense and defense, while the Broncos have mostly just struggled on defense. That should give the Broncos the edge, right?
But Bears quarterback Justin Fields is a playmaker, and if he and his coaching staff figure out how to get on the same page, the Broncos defense could be in for another long day (not 70-points-against-you long day, hopefully).
“He’s a special athlete and can make every throw. As a passer, he can make every throw—outside, vertical, and inside the numbers. As a runner, he’s dynamic. He can break tackles, he’s not sliding, and he can make you miss,” defensive coordinator Vance Joseph said last week. “He’s a challenge to rush four and hope you can contain him or rush five and he can make every throw. It’s a cat and mouse game, but he’s obviously a gifted player.”
Payton pointed out that last year the Bears hadn’t been playing too well, then they went to the Patriots and looked “like a completely different offense.”
“Defensively, we have to prepare for all of that,” Payton said. “They were the No. 1 rushing team last year in the NFL and [Fields] had a lot to do with that.”
Even though a 1-3 record is severely disappointing given all our high hopes, Payton knows that one win is still a big deal in the locker room.
“Well, for us, it would mean a lot. Then I can answer the fun questions. We need a win,” he said, adding that Chicago does too, though. “That’s why we have to win these days—Wednesday, Thursday. I thought today was a really good practice. We have to follow that up tomorrow, but a win would mean a lot for us right now.”
Although the Broncos’ defense has struggled all season so far, going up against a quarterback who has been struggling should bode well for Denver. But it’s most likely going to be Denver’s offense that needs to shine to win the game.
With four defensive starters for the Bears out this week, the Broncos really have no excuse.
And leading the way should be the run game, which Payton said will eventually be our go-to.
“That’s going to be our DNA. Hopefully in six weeks, seven weeks, eight weeks from now, I’ve answered your question with what you’ve seen,” Payton said. “I think that’s important, and that’s how we saw this offensive line and what we need to do. I think the good teams are able to run the ball well.”
So the winner on Sunday gets bragging rights for the weekend, and the loser may be in the lead for the Caleb Williams sweepstakes…but as all the players on losing teams like to say, “there’s a lot of football left.”
Let’s hope for the Broncos’ sake (and mostly our sanity) there’s a lot of winning football left too.