Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
Facing the Jets in New York on Thursday night, the Broncos have little time to reflect on the recent loss and must fix offensive, defensive woes in a hurry.
Head coach Vic Fangio told Broncos Country that his morale is up and he encourages fans to keep theirs strong as well.
“There’s no denying we have a lot of injuries, but we’re going to keep fighting, keep preparing; we’re going to have guys that go out there and give it their all to try to get us a win,” he noted Monday afternoon.
If ever the mantra, “take it one game at a time” were more salient, it’d be hard to remember it.
After an 0-3 start and having to travel to New York on a short week, the Broncos have no time to linger on the latest loss but instead need to focus on how to get the first win this season – despite the insurmountable obstacles.
“Our whole focus is going to be on this short week and trying to go win a game in New York and try to get to 1-3,” Fangio said after the game. “Just take it one game at a time.”
Tim Patrick, who scored the Broncos’ only touchdown on Sunday, was all of us when he was asked after the game “where the team is at” right now.
“Overall, we just have to…honestly, I can’t really answer that.”
But the wide receiver did have one suggestion – everyone figure it out for himself how to turn this around.
“I think we’ve just all got to look in the mirror and just figure it out because we’re way too talented to be 0-3,” he said. “We’re way too talented to be losing these games and like what I told you guys earlier, close games? Whatever. A loss is a loss. Thank God we’ve got this quick turnaround so we can get this losing taste out of our mouths.”
— Denver Broncos (@Broncos) September 27, 2020
Shelby Harris – one of the few bright spots during the game in which he sacked Tom Brady twice, got four hits on the MVP quarterback and even blocked a pass – didn’t mince words on how he feels about the short week – “It sucks.”
“I don’t think any player will ever tell you they like the Thursday Night Game. It’s not good for our safety, it’s not good having played a physical game like we just played and turn around and go Thursday,” he said, adding that the only thing they can do is try to be as “close to 100%” as they can.
Fortunately, the winless Broncos will be taking on the winless Jets, so there’s hope of a win. But there’s no denying that facing a team on its own turf without your starting quarterback – and possibly even the third-string QB – is less than ideal for turning things around.
But the Broncos don’t have time to lament; only time to make some improvements.
And improving the offensive line would be a good starting place.
“We were either getting beat or we weren’t getting it out quick enough,” Fangio said about the offensive struggles. “It was a combination of everything. Until we solve that problem, teams are going to continue to pressure us down after down until we can make people pay for it.”
That could be tough as backup right tackle Elijah Wilkinson and rookie center Lloyd Cushenberry are getting their you-know-whats handed to them play after play.
But Graham Glasgow wasn’t about to put all the blame on those guys. Quoting fellow teammate Tim Patrick, he said it’s about each player fixing his own faults.
“We’re 0-3, and part of what you need to do is…look yourself in the mirror and you need to address the reality of the situation,” he said. “I know that we have a young group, and not even just on the offensive line, but on the offense as a whole. I think that we are not where we can be. Frankly that is a case for optimism, but at the same time the reality of the situation is that we are underperforming and we’re underachieving and that’s something that we need to work through as a group and as an offense.”
Glasgow had some specifics though for his fellow linemen – all to file under “play above your ability.”
“We’ve had a tough couple weeks here in regards to the amount of blitzes and the type of blitzes we’ve been getting,” he said, noting the blitzes have required bumping stuff up, coming back and picking up guys that weren’t necessarily their assignment as a way to “help make the quarterback not hot.”
Graham added that when they’re facing that kind of stuff 10-15 times a game, it’s tough be be successful.
“That’s something that we’re working through and getting better at,” he said.
When it comes to defensive improvement, Harris noted the glaring spot – improving on third down stops.
“That’s what good defenses have to do. We’ve got to get off the field on third down. There’s no excuses. We’re not in the business of excuses, we’re in the business of execution and making plays and we haven’t been doing that,” Harris said, adding that his good stats mean nothing if the team gets a loss.
Two-sack game for @ShelbyHarris93
— Denver Broncos (@Broncos) September 27, 2020
And although the defensive end doesn’t much care for the Thursday Night Football game, he appreciates the short week for one reason – less time to dwell.
“You’ve got to forget about it. You just have to go out there and play football. There won’t be as much preparation as you usually have. There won’t be as much film, there won’t be as much practice,” he said. “You just have to go out and play football. Clear your mind and play the game and everything will work itself out.”
Harris would also like to see the defense avoid getting caught by “the big play” after doing a decent job stopping an offense.
“The big thing with this defense right now is the big play. We’re doing perfectly fine, perfectly fine, perfectly fine, and then a big play,” he said. “It’s always a couple plays each game where it hurt us and we’ve got to really bounce back and stop all these big plays.”
More importantly, Harris had some stark words for reporters and fans questioning the fight in the team after Sunday’s loss.
“We’re not going to allow it to feel the same. I still think there is a lot of optimism,” Harris said. “What you’ve got to realize is, every man in that locker room is still fighting his tail off every day. I have no doubt in my mind we are going to get this turned around.”