Broncos preseason finale shows why the 2023 season will be different

Aug 28, 2023, 6:13 AM

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The game didn’t matter. Come Sept. 10, when the Broncos kick off the regular season against the Raiders, no one will remember their exhibition finale. Heck, they probably have already forgotten about it.

But that doesn’t mean it wasn’t important. Denver’s 41-0 drubbing on the Rams on Saturday night spoke volumes about where the Broncos are going.

Sure, the starters didn’t play. Yes, the game featured a bunch of players who won’t make the final roster. And admittedly, Los Angeles seemed to have no interest in being a Empower Field.

But that’s beside the point. That doesn’t matter.

On Saturday night, the Broncos competed. They demonstrated that they have heart. They showed that they’re all business this season.

Contrast that to last year. Under Nathaniel Hackett, a head coach who openly admitted that he hated the preseason, Denver coasted through the exhibition. Along the way, they got embarrassed by the Bills, a 42-15 debacle that caused Hackett to apologize at the podium in Buffalo.

That loss didn’t count. But it mattered. It showed that the Broncos didn’t want to compete.

Competitors don’t care about the stakes. They play hard no matter the situation. They want to win regardless of the forum.

They’re the guy who turns the family picnic into a badminton war. They’re the person who sells his pool table when someone finally beats him in billiards on his home turf. They’re the player who barrels over the catcher in an All-Star Game.

If a score is being kept, there’s only one objective. It’s all about winning.

Last year’s Broncos didn’t get that; they wanted to goof around on an August road trip to western New York. This year’s team does; they wanted to punish a Rams team that wasn’t interested in playing football.

That speaks to mindset. It illustrates an approach. It highlights a mentality.

Sean Payton wants to win. At everything.

While it will take some time for Denver’s new head coach to fix a lot of what ails the Broncos, he’s already changed the most important thing. His team competes.

That’ll add up to more wins in 2023. And it’ll lead to bigger things down the road.

The Broncos 41-0 win over the Rams didn’t count. But it mattered. A lot.


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