ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — In 2017, the Broncos let a Week 5 loss to the Giants spiral into eight consecutive losses.
A year later, Denver suffered a pair of four-game losing streaks.
At times, the Broncos didn’t just lose — they weren’t even competitive.
The Broncos’ Week 2 loss to the Bears, which dropped Denver to 0-2 on the season, feels different. Denver was within one score of the 2018 NFC North champs for nearly the entire game, and the Broncos took a one-point lead with 31 seconds to play.
Despite the loss, it’s a performance that has convinced at least one of Denver’s leaders that this team is different than the ones from previous years. This year’s team, cornerback Chris Harris Jr. said, may be above those long losing streaks that plagued the 2017 and 2018 iterations of the Broncos.
“I think the mindset in the locker room is [that] the team is different,” Harris said Tuesday. “I think guys were definitely upset that we lost that game, but I think that’s going to make us hungrier. It’s going to make us continue to want to get better and practice harder. My job is to continue to show great effort every day on the practice field, lead by example by the way I practice every day and prepare and hopefully the guys still follow.”
In Week 3, the Broncos will follow Harris into Lambeau Field for a matchup with the 2-0 Packers — and against Aaron Rodgers, they’ll need their best.
“He can make every throw,” Harris said. “He’s very intelligent. Shoot, he’s one of the best to ever do it.”
Harris said Rodgers’ ability to extend plays in the pocket make him dangerous — but it also could give the Broncos an opportunity.
Through two weeks, Denver hasn’t recorded a sack. That could change against Rodgers, who often holds onto the ball and lets plays develop downfield.
“There’s a reason why he does hold the ball a little bit longer,” Harris said, “because he’s making plays for everybody else, but hopefully we can use that in our favor and be able to get some sacks.”
In the process, though, Denver’s defense can’t let Rodgers escape the pressure.
“We don’t want him running around and buying time,” Harris said. “We have to be able to make it a tight pocket for him, make it where he can’t buy that time and extend those, just collapse them and hopefully get some push up the middle.”
If the Broncos are able to pressure Rodgers, who has been sacked seven times in two weeks, they may also find a way to force a turnover or two. Through two weeks, the Broncos are one of just three teams not to record a takeaway. They are the only team not to record a sack.
Denver may need to do both in Week 3 if it hopes to earn its first win of the season.
“We have to rattle the quarterback,” Harris said. “We haven’t been able to rattle him. Most teams are running the ball a lot more vs. us. We have to try and get them in third-and-long, second-and-longs. We have to win first and second down better. That will help us get in more pass-rush situations and also try to figure out a way to get a lead.
“Once we get a lead, then we can sick the dogs out on them and really let all our D-line loose.”