The enemy of the Broncos? One player says it’s themselves

Dec 8, 2023, 1:47 AM | Updated: 10:55 am

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — The Broncos met the enemy last Sunday after a five-game winning streak — and one key starter believes it was themselves.

“Yeah. The opponent is in this locker room. That’s all it is, man,” safety P.J. Locke said.

Not every player was that blunt in their assessment. Nevertheless, the sense around the Broncos at Centura Health Training Center this week is that the woes that beset the Broncos in the their loss in Houston — miscommunication, errors of execution, penalties — were not about things the Texans did to them, but matters completely within their control.

“We’ve just gotta be attention to details,” Locke explained. “When we look back at the film, we didn’t play terrible on defense by any means. I mean, we had some few sloppy plays in the first half, and then after that, we kind of came together, and it was good.

“But other than that, man, we take a way some of those plays, some of the third-down plays, and, hey, man, it’s a different conversation right now.”

That’s what defensive coordinator Vance Joseph saw, too: self-inflicted wounds early, and then a return to form late.

“[There were] a couple miscommunications,” Joseph said. “… The penalties — you don’t want those penalties. That was a four-point play. We didn’t play as clean as we wanted to play. We weren’t playing bad football, but there was a play here or there where it wasn’t exact. That wasn’t good for us.

“… Overall, it wasn’t bad football, but you can’t give up those kinds of plays, in the first half, especially, and on the road in a big game like that.”

But there wasn’t much unease a few days later.

“It’s no panic by any means through anybody. But we’ve got a good opponent this week, and they’re going to do some stuff to try to expose us, areas in the defense. We’ve just got to be ready for it.”


This also applies to improving the on-field communication and pre-snap procedure on offense. Offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi pointed out ways in which that could be improved during his press conference Thursday.

“I think a combination of trying not to have too many variables in the game plan. Sometimes that’s on us as coaches asking for too many checks, and too much communication at the line of scrimmage,” Lombardi said. “You have to balance that.

“Obviously, we have to have some of that, but sometimes, we can go overboard. Then it’s just communication [which is] a two-way street.”

Indeed, what ailed the Broncos in Houston is all fixable, right tackle Mike McGlinchey noted.

“I don’t think there’s ever a time where you watch the film and say, ‘Man, he just got me,’ or, ‘There’s nothing I can do here,'” McGlinchey said, “because that would be surrendering to a loser mindset, and nobody has that here.”

And that represents a clear contrast to the recent past. The Broncos’ demeanor Wednesday and Thursday remained resilient. And that characteristic — which served them well in four fourth-quarter comeback wins over their past nine games — could well be called upon again in a stretch run that appears to be setting up nicely for the team to return to the postseason if it can handle its own business.



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The enemy of the Broncos? One player says it’s themselves