ENGLEWOOD, Colo. --It's not about simply winning on Sunday.
For President of Football Operations/General Manager John Elway, it's about making sure that the Broncos' effort meets the standard they've set for themselves every day of the week.
"We've got to go out and live up to our standards, set our standards of how we go out and practice day in and day out, and then when we come out in the football game, hold ourselves to our standards to how we expect to go out and perform each week," he told Orange and Blue 760 on Tuesday.
"This is a key step for us this week and to find out really where we are and as far as our maturation of how we expect and play to our standards."
So that leads to an obvious question -- what are the standards within the Broncos' locker room?
"We have to play our best football," said quarterback Trevor Siemian.
"Just play at a high level, man. Good energy. Assignment sound. A focused group playing at a high level, playing like a 4-1 football team," cornerback Aqib Talib said.
"That's what John meant -- to play like we know we can play. Limit the mistakes."
But the Broncos feel their best football isn't simply about being a contender and avoiding the self-inflicted wounds that marred some of their earlier efforts.
That's where the lingering memories of the 2015 season matter. Yes, most of the players on the 53-man roster were not with the organization for the 24-10 win over the Carolina Panthers in Super Bowl 50; 29 of the 53 players on the active roster have joined the team since that game.
The newer players take their cues from their elder teammates. More than enough institutional knowledge and leadership remains to keep the standards and expectations at that level, even through the inevitable changes that have followed.
The "standard," as it stands, is lofty.
"I think it's extremely high," running back C.J. Anderson said. "I've been here for five years, and the standard is to win a championship every year. And it's not just cliche, like every other team in the league who says, 'Win a championship.' It's the actions we show behind it.
"And us playing to a standard is going out and doing what we do best, which is dominate football games. That's what we do. We find ways to dominate football games in the way where we play harder, we play faster and we play longer than our opponent, and I just think that is something that we have to do this week to prevail to victory. We have to prevail longer and harder than they do, and that's something that we preach on our team as an offense and as a standard and as a culture on this team.
"'VJ' [Head Coach Vance Joseph] says it all the time: 'We play harder than them, and if you keep fighting and you keep punching, you'll get your results.'"
An example of the standard being set? Being the No. 1 defense in football, as cornerback Bradley Roby noted. In terms of total defense, that's where the Broncos stand after five weeks.
Reaching that standard starts with attitude.
"We've got nothing but a bunch of relentless savages on this team, period," safety Will Parks said. "Everybody on this team is relentless and plays with a savage kind of mood. And it's crazy because you don't really see that everywhere. I played on teams in college and high school where I sensed it, but here, there's a sense of urgency, and the standard's at an all-time high."
The reverse is failing to score a touchdown in the red zone against Oakland.
"That's definitely not," Anderson said. "Not dialed in. Not focused. Not detailed. Whatever the case may be of why you're 0-for-4 in the red zone, or going to Buffalo on the road [and losing].
"We don't accept in victory what we wouldn't accept in defeat, and we mean that. So if we're 4-for-4 in the red zone against Dallas and we won, that felt good. We won the game against Oakland, but we're 0-for-4 in the red zone. We definitely don't accept that. So that's the standard that we uphold here."
And that's exactly what Elway meant -- a focus on standards that aren't tied to simply winning or being just good enough to beat that week's opponent.
"I think each week, it doesn't really matter who you're playing, but you have to play your best football. You want to be a tough out every week," Siemian said. "I think we can be that."
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