The Denver Broncos’ season sits on a knife edge. After 10 weeks of football, the team from Colorado sits with a .500 record at 5-5.
A flawless 3-0 start turned into a nightmare month of four consecutive losses. At 3-4 with its season on the line, the Broncos rallied with wins against Washington and at Dallas, breathing life into a season, Inevitably though, there was another twist–Philadelphia swiftly took the wind out of Denver’s sail before their bye week.
The loss may have stayed with Broncos Country since Sunday’s 30-13 defeat but defensive tackle Shelby Harris is taking the positives from their rest week.
Bye Week Comes at Perfect Time
“This bye week is actually [at] a perfect time,” Harris said, Nov 15. “It’s a time where we’re 5-5 right now and yeah—go away. Stop thinking about this stuff for a little bit. Go relax, have a mental reset and come back though because this seven-game stretch [is] going to be a crucial seven-game stretch.
“You need to go out and relax. Clear your mind and when we come back here, we’re coming to run them off. I really think that for us this is literally the perfect bye week. Rest your bodies, rest your mind, come back and let’s do it.”
The 30-year-old is currently ranked 28th among defensive lineman, according to PFF. Despite his good form and the emergence of Dre’Mont Jones, Denver’s defense struggled mightily against Philadelphia and quarterback Jalen Hurts. The Eagles rushed for a whopping 216 yards, amassing 34:58 minutes in time of possession– a +9 minute differential.
As for what went wrong for Denver, Harris explained where they failed to execute. “They just had the run-pass option, and it was a bunch of big plays honestly,” he said. “It’s just gap accountability. [There were] a bunch of big plays that accounted for a big chunk of their rush yards and we’ve all just got to be accountable, go out there and do our job.
“We’ve just got to be more disciplined. We’ve got to play to a championship level of defense every week. We can’t come out there one week and have a great performance, then the next week we go out there and throw a dud. It’s on everybody. Players, coaches, everyone—we’ve all got to be in this together to get that figured out.”
It may not be so simple. If it were, the Broncos would have looked like the team from Dallas every week previous and after. Fans undoubtedly find it frustrating given their team are now situated at the bottom of the AFC West. Center Lloyd Cushenberry–ranked 18th at his position per PFF–is taking a balanced, philosophical approach to how Denver regroup.
“You can’t dwell on this [previous] game,” Cushenberry said, Nov. 15. “Obviously you have to learn from it, but we have a Bye Week to regroup and come back next week with a big divisional game against the Chargers. We have no choice; we have to move on. We still have a lot of football left. We’re 5-5–not where we want to be or where we saw ourselves being, but we have a lot of football left. We can do a lot of good things the rest of the season.”
Fangio: Broncos’ Fans Best in NFL
Despite their trials and tribulations this season, there is still plenty of time for Denver to salvage its season. There’s no better opportunity to redeem themselves than their divisional showdown vs. Los Angeles on Nov. 28.
It isn’t lost on Cushenberry just how enormous this game will be–both for their season’s prospects and for pride.
“It’s a big divisional matchup we have coming up, have to move on,” he said. “These past two weeks just goes to show you that you never know what happens in the NFL. It’s any given Sunday, like I said last Sunday against the Cowboys. Anybody can get got every single game. You have to come out no matter what the record is, no matter who’s starting, who’s out or what the situation is. Anybody can win any game against any opponent.”
The Broncos have been unreliable in front of Broncos Country–where they welcome the Chargers in just over a week–winning just two of their five home games thus far. Some may suggest there is an underlying issue at play but head coach Vic Fangio couldn’t disagree more.
“No,” Fangio said. “We’ve looked at it and there isn’t. We had a tremendous crowd there yesterday. Really appreciate the support of the fans. We have the greatest fans in the NFL. Ultimately, we just have to coach better and then get our guys to play better.”
Follow Patrick Djordjevic on Twitter: @Patdjordjevic