ENGLEWOOD | The Denver Broncos insist they’re not as rotten as their record or their luck.
“We’re 0-4,” linebacker Todd Davis said, “but we’re not an 0-4 team.”
They’re not the dreary Dolphins, who have been outscored 163-26.
They’re not the bungling Bengals, who have been outscored 110-57.
They’re not the revolting Redskins, who have been outscored 118-66.
The bedeviled Broncos have been outscored 93-70.
They’ve taken two 3-1 teams to the end in the Packers and Bears and they’ve lost twice on field goals as time expired, to Chicago and Jacksonville.
Still, the Broncos are 0-4 just like Miami, Cincinnati and Washington.
“I think the most frustrating thing is that we’ve had chances to win games, and we haven’t been able to do that,” general manager John Elway said on 850 KOA in Denver this week. “I think that’s why I am still very positive about what we’ve got going on. I really like our staff and really believe we have the players to win.”
Vic Fangio, who’s off to the worst start for a head coach in franchise history, insists all this losing isn’t due to a talent drain.
“I still believe in them,” Fangio said. “I think they’re winners as individuals. We have to find a way to be winners as a team and we’re not playing well enough consistently enough to do that. But I do believe in these guys.”
The Broncos ended September trailing the Chiefs by four games in the AFC West, but they suffered their biggest loss of the year this week with word that rising star Bradley Chubb was done for the year.
He played on an ACL tear Sunday against Jacksonville and nearly won the game for Denver with a strip of quarterback Gardner Minshew II, but like every other game this year, the ball didn’t bounce their way. The football ricocheted right back at Minshew, who got the throw off just in time.
With a few breaks, the Broncos could be 2-2 or even 3-1 and feeling good.
“When we do come out of this, you’re going to look back on this time period and see how much character it’s built on this football team,” quarterback Joe Flacco said Wednesday. “I think it’s going to pay dividends once we come out the other side.”
It gets no easier, though: none of their remaining opponents have a losing record right now.
When they visit the Los Angeles Chargers (2-2) on Sunday, the Broncos will be trying to snap an eight-game skid, the longest active losing streak in the league.
At kickoff, it will have been 309 days since they last won a regular season game, 24-10 over Cincinnati on Dec. 2.
They’re on their third head coach and sixth quarterback since winning Super Bowl 50 in Peyton Manning’s last game, and Elway is taking more and more heat from a fan base frustrated by their 16-32 record since starting defense of their third title with four wins in 2016.
They’ve had two eight-game skids since, and Fangio puts the onus on everybody to end the nosedive.
“We’ve got the players here to win,” Fangio said. “I believe in these players, I enjoy being around them every day. They’re a bunch of good guys. They’re trying their butts off. We just have to play a little bit better. Along with that, we have to coach better. If we’re breaking down fundamentally in certain areas at critical times that is an indictment on us as coaches, too.”
Elway was asked this week by 850 KOA’s Dave Logan, the team’s longtime-play-by-play announcer, if there would ever come a point where he’d consider walking away, given his notoriously competitive nature.
“It’s always tough, and it doesn’t get any (easier) the older you get. It actually gets probably a little bit tougher. Ultimately, this comes down to me, so I’m here to get this thing figured out, and we’re going to keep battling on this thing, and we’re going to try and find a way to win some football games,” Elway said.