Broncos Country needs to remember that patience is a virtue
Oct 30, 2023, 4:00 AM | Updated: 7:06 am
(Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)
Merilatt Monday is brought to you by Mercedes-Benz of Loveland
Patience is a virtue. It’s an old proverb, one that has been around for centuries.
It rings as true today as it ever has, even in a world that is constantly in a hurry. And everyone in Broncos Country would be wise to take the idea to heart.
Two weeks ago, fans in the Mile High City were ready for drastic measures. They wanted to blow up the Broncos. It was time for a fire sale at the trade deadline. Russell Wilson had to go at the end of the season. And Sean Payton, just six games into his tenure as the team’s head coach, had lost his mojo.
There were certainly plenty of reasons to be doubtful of the team’s path. The early returns weren’t good.
The Broncos were 1-5. They hadn’t won a home game. And they had been embarrassed on the road in Miami, giving up 70 yards in an epic defensive meltdown against the Dolphins.
And that was just the most-recent evidence. Given the franchise’s history since winning Super Bowl 50, with seven straight non-playoff seasons in the rearview mirror, another dreadful start was met with ire. The fan base was completely over watching bad, inept football.
But just because a feeling is understandable doesn’t mean it’s one that should be acted upon. The last two weeks have proven that point in Denver.
The Broncos head into their bye week having won back-to-back games. They avoided the first 0-4 start at home with a win over the Packers. Then, they ended their 16-game losing streak to the Chiefs with an impressive 24-9 win on Sunday.
Of course, this doesn’t mean that the season is saved. At 3-5, with a road game at Buffalo on the horizon, no one should think that the Broncos are suddenly a playoff contender. They aren’t. Not this year.
And that’s the key point. In a league that sees teams go from worst-to-first, and vice versa, on an annual basis, the future doesn’t have to be bleak in Denver. In fact, there’s no reason to believe that they can’t get things turned around pretty quickly.
If the Broncos can use the rest of this season to find their winning formula, they can head into next year with the reasonable expectation of being a playoff team. Heck, they could even dream about competing in the AFC West again, now that the mighty Chiefs have finally been proven mortal.
That can happen if they find the brand of football that works for them. It can occur if they find out what players need to be a part of the mix and which ones don’t. It can develop if the Broncos play with passion and find a reason to believe that they can win games, instead of finding new and creative ways to lose them.
This should be the goal during the second half of the season. More important than wins and losses, Denver needs to spend nine weeks discovering their mojo, developing a personality under Payton.
If they do that, they can become a contender. It’s their quickest path to becoming relevant again. It’s the fastest route to meaningful games in December and January.
By contrast, the blow-it-up plan is the HOV lane to nowhere. Everyone in Broncos Country should know that by now.
Since hoisting the Lombardi Trophy, the team has tried every conceivable combination to build a winner. There’s been no shortage of changes made, all with the same disastrous results in the end.
At head coach, they’ve tried the up-and-coming defensive coordinator, veteran with pelts on the wall, friend of a future Hall of Fame signal caller and a former Super Bowl winner. They’ve gone with old and young, grumpy and goofy, offensive- and defensive-minded. The Broncos are running out of options.
The same can be said at quarterback. They’ve tried the cerebral type, a first-round pick, a former Super Bowl winner, a journeyman, a talented youngster, a high-priced free agent and a blockbuster trade. They’ve gone tall and short, thrower and runner, game manager and gunslinger. The Broncos are running out of options.
That’s why the “start over” crowd notion never made sense. Another clean slate sounds good, but it’s just another hitting of the reset button. It’s another step backward.
The Broncos need to start moving in the other direction, even if it’s incrementally. Everyone would’ve like Payton to be a quick fix, the tonic for all that ailed the Broncos for nearly a decade. But just because that didn’t happen doesn’t mean things can’t work out in the long run.
For the first time in a long time, that now seems possible. A win over the Chiefs, something that hasn’t happened since Week 2 of the 2015 season, provides that hope.
There’s now reason to believe in Payton. The head coach did something that Gary Kubiak, Vance Joseph, Vic Fangio, Nathaniel Hackett and Jerry Rosburg couldn’t do for 16-straight games. He has his team playing winning football, looking more inspired than they have in years.
There’s also reason to believe in Wilson. The quarterback did something that Trevor Siemian, Paxton Lynch, Joe Flacco, Drew Lock, Teddy Bridgewater, Case Keenum and others couldn’t. He’s thrown for 16 touchdowns and tossed just four interceptions, making plays and finding ways to win.
It’s created a recipe for success in 2024 and beyond. Keep Payton. Keep Wilson. Add a playmaker or two on both sides of the ball. Find a style that works for this roster. Hone and perfect that system. Create a winning formula and culture.
That takes time to build. It doesn’t happen overnight. But it’s the right course of action.
The Broncos need to stop chasing every get-rich-quick-scheme. It’s time to hunker down, do the work and build something that can last.
Patience is a virtue. It always has been and always will be.