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Broncos hope to spark momentum as they prepare for a Chargers team that knows their struggle

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — As the disappointment and frustration settled after Sunday's loss to Jacksonville, Joe Flacco saw just the kind of reaction he hoped for on Monday morning.

There, next to him, were his teammates, ready to put it all behind them and attack a new week. Like Flacco, many of the Broncos have not faced an obstacle like this 0-4 start before. And like him, they're not going to roll over just because of it.

"As things have cooled off, I think guys have come in and handled it really well," Flacco said Wednesday. "It's always a good test when you come in Monday morning to go lift and there's a good group of guys in there getting ready to get after it and getting ready to get their heads to move on."

Moving on, after all, is the only option the Broncos have, and if they want to prove that this record doesn't define them, they can't stop putting everything they've got into their preparation now.

"Our back's against the wall, and now we've got to go at it," Phillip Lindsay said. "We've got to go at it hard. And nothing changes. We've been having great practices. We just need to make a couple plays here and there. That's the NFL for you, though. A couple more plays here and there and we're on the other side of it. We've just got to find a way to win. ...

"You have to go through hard times. It's how it goes. It's the way it is. For example, we were struggling in the red zone at first, and now we're starting to get the groove of it. You've got to punch through. Once you can get through, once you get that first win, everything starts to roll."

Few teams in the NFL know that experience better than the Broncos' opponent this week.

In fact, Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers said he thinks the Broncos remind him a lot about their 2017 team, which got off to an 0-4 start before finishing the season on a 9-3 run.

"Any Broncos [players/fans] could care less about my opinion about their 0-4 start, but it seems similar in ways that, golly, they could very easily be sitting here at 2-2 or 3-1, just the way these games have gone," Rivers said on a Wednesday conference call with Denver media. "And that's much like our start in '17, when we lost at Denver in the opener and then we missed a field-goal try at the end of the Miami game. Anyway, it's just kind of some crazy things. You look up and you're 0-4 and you know you're better than that, and I know that's what we see on tape: a good Denver Broncos team."

The lesson he took away from that season was much the same as the one that Lindsay is now preaching.

"For us it was just finding a way to [win]," Rivers said. "Once we finally won our first game, then we won two in a row. Then we kind of turned it around and fought our way back to win nine of the last 12. We know what this Denver team can do."

Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn, who faced that difficult situation in 2017 also as a first-year head coach, recalled that the key for them was simply staying the course.

"We just didn't flinch," Lynn said Wednesday on another conference call. "We stayed true to the process and kept re-emphasizing things, because at that point in time, you need clarity. And the guys need to understand exactly what the expectations and standards are, and as long as you do that, it's going to turn. I knew then it was going to turn and I'm pretty sure Vic knows it's going to turn with his squad."

If that happens, then the Broncos may find themselves in situations at the end of the season where they're playing meaningful games with playoff implications, like the Chargers did, though they came up one game short of earning a postseason bid. And if that time arises, then the Broncos may look back upon this rough patch and, as much as some of these losses may pain them, they will know that they helped steel them for later on.

"I think being in the type of games that we've been in, in the last few weeks or first four weeks, when we do come out of this, you're going to look back on this time period and see how much character that it's built in this football team," Flacco said. "Because late in the season and once the playoffs come around and you're playing nothing but good teams, you're not given any freebies. Nothing is very easy.

"You're always going to be in situations like we've been in in the last four weeks, where, Hey, we've come out hot. Oh, there's a little bit of a lull in the game. Hey, we're still only down six points. We've got to win this football game. And for guys to be able to rally and mentally have the confidence to go out there and execute at a high level, when things don't feel like they're going our way, I think that's a huge testament about what kind of guys we have. And I think it's going to pay dividends once we come out the other side and we do finds ourselves in more games like this down the road. It'll help us in winning those."

But before the Broncos can get to that point, they'll have to simply start with winning one game. From there, who knows?

"You just need some kind of momentum to go your way," Lindsay said. "And what better time than a divisional game vs. the Chargers there and get a win like we did last year? Start rolling from there."

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