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Broncos Notebook: Denver maintaining small focus as battle with Texans nears

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Perhaps it should be no surprise that in the midst of a five-game winning streak, the Broncos aren't looking to change.

For more than a month, the Broncos have clawed their way back toward .500 and then to a winning record, courtesy of a Week 12 win over the Cleveland Browns. To reach that mark, they've kept a small focus and ignored the outside criticism and noise.

And now that they find themselves on the right side of .500 and in the AFC playoff race, they're not switching things up.

"I don't know what you would want to change [after] the last five weeks," tackle Mike McGlinchey said Wednesday. "I think we've done a great job of staying singularly focused week to week, play to play, and I think that's why we've had success. I think we've blocked out all the noise of all the [stuff] that was going on when we were losing, all the people that were talking about us and the way that they were talking about us, and we just kept chugging along. 

"The only thing that we can do is keep doing the same thing. One day, one play at time. If you project forward in this league, it gets you into a lot of trouble, because somebody will come in the next week and smack you in the mouth."

The Broncos' next challenge comes in the form of the impressive Houston Texans. The young team, which features one of the most prolific rookie quarterbacks in NFL history in C.J. Stroud, has won four of its last six games and is essentially tied with Denver in the AFC playoff race.

"Houston's no joke," McGlinchey said. "They're a great football team and they're having a lot of success, just like we are. It should be a fun battle. The focus is only singularly on Houston and moving forward as best as we can and trying to improve each week."

Quarterback Russell Wilson said the Broncos' recent win streak can create belief in what the team can accomplish, but he also stressed that Denver still has work to do to reach its goals.

"We haven't done anything yet," Wilson said. "We've got a lot more work to do, a lot more football left."


McGlinchey and Wilson both have a sense of familiarity with Texans head coach DeMeco Ryans, who has led a resurgence in Houston in his first year as a head coach.

Ryans spent the first three years of McGlinchey's career in San Francisco as the 49ers' inside linebackers coach, and he then ascended to defensive coordinator during McGlinchey's final two seasons with the Niners.

"It's not a surprise at all," McGlinchey said of Ryans' early success in Houston. "… [He] is an unbelievably special person along with football coach. The person that he is and the leader that he is — on top of the football knowledge — is why he gets guys to buy in and there's such a quick turnaround in Year 1. I didn't expect anything less from him."

Wilson, meanwhile, has played against Ryans-led defenses three times in his career — and holds a 3-0 mark.

In 2021, Wilson completed 76.7 percent of his passes and recorded five total touchdowns, one turnover and a 107.6 passer rating in two Seattle wins over San Francisco. Then, in 2022, Wilson and the Broncos earned an 11-10 win in which Wilson led a go-ahead touchdown drive in the fourth quarter.

"He coaches his guys with great discipline, great tenacity on the defensive side of the ball," Wilson said. "They fly around, they do a lot of great things. He was doing that at the 49ers, he's done it here with the Texans. It's been impressive just to watch what they've done, the turnaround they've had and everything else. He's an enthusiastic coach, he's a detailed coach — and they've got great players."

Head Coach Sean Payton noted that Ryans' team "plays as hard as can be" and said it is reminiscent of Ryans' playing style during his own NFL career.


The Broncos are set to play three consecutive road games for the first time since 2017 and just the ninth time since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger, but Payton and Co. are not wasting time worrying about the challenge.

"It kind of is what it is," Payton said of the three-game stretch. "When the season [schedule] comes out, you look at where you're playing some teams. We have played a number of home games, and you really just are looking at this week. I do know of the remaining six [games], the four away [games] are all inside and the other two are here outside. I don't think there's anything different relative to playing on the road versus home or for three games. It's not a big deal."

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