The Denver Broncos are 0-2 to start the season, causing many once-scorned type fans to start walking to the ledge. Yet, if the team can pull off an upset victory on the road this weekend over the Miami Dolphins, the trajectory can be changed.
Following season after season of disappointment, the majority of fans of the Denver Broncos likely entered the 2023 season with a “exercise with caution” mentality when setting expectations. And thus far, that attitude appears to be the correct one.
The Broncos are staring at an 0-2 record losing to two teams almost certainly not in the playoffs picture. They also lost to each at home. Teams that start the season 0-2 do not typically have the greatest history of finishing seasons, so at this point, who’s to judge any fan of the Broncos who is ready to tune out and hope for a hard reset?
The team is strapped financially due to the tier-one money the Broncos front office gave to Russell Wilson, so if things continue to go south, having a fire sale to acquire draft picks may be the only path forward given the team can’t afford high-priced free agents (or trade candidates looking for a new deal).
Yet, what if these first two games, which ended in losses of course, aren’t the whole story? What if these are but growing pains, and the season, or more aptly, the future of the Payton-Wilson era, is not DOA?
Coach Sean Payton called the last game a tale of two halves. There was a half of crisp, offensive football in which the Broncos dominated the game, and then both sides of the ball just flatlined. Washington capitalized and it was game, set, match.
The cynic, and the type of fan that has suffered through the post-Manning years of mediocrity at best and suck at worst will be most prone to look at this from a pessimist point of view. The team can’t finish. The loser mentality is too deeply engrained in the players’ brains. They can’t win because they don’t believe they can.
Others, however, see a team in the first half of games who is vastly improved from last year’s squad. There is a lot to like about what the team has done in that period, and this is as close to Seattle-form as Russell Wilson has looked.
The issue, of course, is that they can’t close games. And maybe it was a curse that the first two contests were vs. teams many had circled as automatic wins. The Raiders and Commanders aren’t playoff caliber teams. Was there, perhaps, a mentality of “we can’t lose this game” rather than a “we are going to win this game”? Kind of like a four-foot birdie putt a golfer misses, sometimes a task that should be so easy becomes overbearing due to the pressure.
Facing the Miami Dolphins, however, the Broncos surely know they are the underdogs.
The Dolphins are one of the hottest teams in the league, and the trio of Mike McDaniels, Tua Tagovailoa, and Tyreek Hill form one of the most formidable offenses in recent memory. And with guys like Raheem Mostert and Jaylen Waddle on the field as well, they are not going to be a picnic for any defense, let alone one who just got slashed apart by Sam Howell.
Yet, maybe, MAYBE, an underdog mentality is what the team needs. Recall last year when the team went toe-to-toe with would-be Super Bowl champs Kansas City Chiefs. Everyone had counted Denver out, but the team fought hard and nearly pulled off the upset.
What if the first tow games were but a mental hiccup? What if the first half team that has appeared the first two games is closer to the real deal than we realize?
The Miami Dolphins have the offense to be a Super Bowl contender. If the Broncos can go on the road and silence that notion, than perhaps the team needs more leash than fans have been willing to give after the first two weeks. But rest assured, the team has to bring it. Another second half dud (or worse), and the calls for a hard reset will only intensify.
‘You can see it’: DC Vance Joseph remains confident in Broncos’ defensive potential ahead of test vs. Dolphins
“We’re on our way, guys,” Joseph said. “Again, I’m not discouraged at all. It’s Week 2. There’s enough good football on tape — both weeks — to say we’re going to be a good defense.”
Broncos Now: Scouting the Opponent | Broncos vs. Dolphins
On this episode of “Broncos Now,” Sydney Jones takes a look at the top storylines surrounding Thursday’s press conferences with Offensive Coordinator Joe Lombardi, Defensive Coordinator Vance Joseph and Special Teams Coordinator Ben Kotwica. Plus, ESPN NF
Injury Report: DT Mike Purcell, S Justin Simmons among Broncos to not practice Thursday ahead of matchup with Dolphins
Tackle Garett Bolles improved to a full participant with his ankle injury.
Cowboys’ Trevon Diggs tears ACL in practice, ‘projected’ to miss rest of 2023 NFL season – CBSSports.com
Diggs signed a five-year, $97 million extension this offseason
Panthers say QB Bryce Young is unlikely to play Week 3 vs. Seahawks; Andy Dalton set to start – CBSSports.com
The rookie is currently sidelined with an ankle injury
Saquon Barkley injury update: Giants RB says he’s dealing with high ankle sprain, hopes to be ready for Week 4 – CBSSports.com
The Giants’ next game is Monday night against the Seahawks