The Denver Broncos are 3-5, but they might be a better team than their record suggests halfway through the season.
“I feel like we’re a better team today than we were four or five weeks ago. You can see that in a lot of ways,” Payton said during a conference call on Monday.
So, what has changed since the team’s 0-3 start?
“I think we’re defending the run better, No. 1,” Payton said. “I think our red zone defense has been much improved. I think offensively, we’ve been more efficient running the ball. We had better red zone numbers offensively last week.
“In the kicking game, week-to-week we’re winning most of those battles, which means a lot. The way we’re returning right now — our punt returns, our kick returns — we’re doing a number of the things that are necessary to win games that I don’t think we were doing nearly as well at the start of the season.”
The Broncos won back-to-back games going into their bye. Now, coming out of the break, Denver will have consecutive games in prime time. First, the Broncos will face the Buffalo Bills on the road on Monday Night Football. After that, Denver will host the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday Night Football. The next two weeks will be crucial for the team’s 2023 season.
“[O]verall, from an overview as a team, I think we’re a lot further down the road, and because of that, you get that much more invested and recognize the next opportunity at hand,” Payton said. “We’re going to play a national TV game [next Monday] and then another national TV game the following Sunday night. Those will both be important games for us as a team.”