The Broncos have had consecutive losing seasons for the first time since 1971-72. They also had a losing season in 1970, which means that they’re currently one losing season away from matching that three straight years of sub-.500 football.
But the days of zero-and-zero are a time for optimism and hope, even if it’s unreasonable and/or implausible. It’s the time for puffing out the chest and calling a shot. Broncos G.M. John Elway declined to do that on Wednesday.
“I’ll let you guys set that,” Elway told reporters on the question of expectations. “We know what our goals are. The bottom line is I never went into a season saying, ‘We’re going to be 10-6.’ I think we walk into every game with the idea that we can win it. The bottom line is we’ve got to go out and execute and play well. Obviously, you’ve got to get a little bit lucky and stay healthy, but our expectations are to take it a day at a time. Get through preseason, see what we have and then look forward to the opener in Oakland. Really take it one week at a time. Obviously, there are a lot of unknowns because it’s a new staff and a lot of new players. We put that all together. We’re hopeful to have a good year.”
Hope really is the key word. All teams have hope that they can secure a spot in the playoffs. And all playoff teams eventually have hope that they can climb the playoff tree.
“I think this is always the exciting time of year because you get to see what you have,” Elway said regarding the degree of hope in Denver. “Once we get the pads on, we get a better feel for everybody. Then we get into the preseason, get a feel for the young guys and the players that we haven’t seen play. It’s an exciting time of year, but we’ve got a lot of work ahead of us. I think that we always have high expectations of ourselves, but we just know that the position that we’re in, and the last two seasons that we’ve had, we’ve got to take it one day at a time. That’s what we’re going to do. I think we’re in good shape, too. I think being in early, having the extra week playing in the Hall of Fame Game, I think is going to help us with a new staff. I think that’s a positive for us being in early.”
That’s an underrated aspect of playing a fifth preseason game. This year, the Broncos and Falcons get that advantage of extra work in practices and in practice games. The key for the Broncos could be new coach Vic Fangio, an old-school, defensive specialist who for whatever reason previously didn’t get a shot to run a team of his own.
If he can do for the Broncos what he’s done for multiple defenses, the Broncos could make things very interesting in the AFC West, where the Chiefs and Chargers are believed to have separated from the Broncos and Raiders.