DENVER — The Broncos' struggles, it seems, aren’t the fault of any one player.
Von Miller recorded two sacks Sunday. Joe Flacco threw three touchdowns. Noah Fant caught his first career touchdown. The offensive line didn’t allow a sack. Courtland Sutton snagged two touchdowns. Justin Simmons recorded seven tackles and two passes defensed.
The list of individual accolades could go on — but right now, that’s all they are.
The Broncos keep finding individual accomplishments when what they really need is a team win.
“I still believe in them,” Head Coach Vic Fangio said after a 26-24 loss to the Jaguars. “I think they’re winners as individuals. We’ve got to find a way to be winners as a team. We’re not playing well enough, consistently enough, to do that. But I do believe in these guys.”
Miller put it another way.
“[I’ve] got to take a long, hard look in the mirror, which I always do, but I’ll do it again,” Miller said. “… I was able to get on the board with sacks, but everybody knows the win column is the most important stat for us.”
However you choose to classify Denver’s lack of team success, the Broncos are still searching for answers.
They got “whipped” as a run defense, according to Fangio. They allowed another last-second, game-winning field goal. They scored 17 first-half points but also had an untimely turnover that helped swing the game.
But even as the Broncos sit at 0-4 with a trip to Los Angeles to play the Chargers on the horizon, no one is going to feel sorry for Denver.
Flacco, a 12-year veteran, has been in the league long enough to understand that. And in his mind, he or someone else is going to need to share that perspective with the rest of a crestfallen locker room.
“Guys obviously are not feeling as good as we should right now,” Flacco said. “It’s a tough thing. In these moments, you can tell from the locker room there’s probably going to have to be something said to this team, just because we’ve got 12 football games left. The NFL doesn’t wait around for anybody. Before you know it, we’re going to be playing again. We’re going to be lining up next Sunday. There’s no time to feel sorry for yourself or anything like that. We’re a bunch of men, and you have to handle these situations as such. There’s really nothing you can do about it. You can’t go back in time and fix this thing and fix that thing. It is what is. You have to look at yourself in the mirror and you have to be able to push it down and deal with it and move on and still play good football.
“I think as an older guy, my perspective’s a little different. There’s a lot of people in my life that look up to me. These are experiences that you can teach them and it’s tough to look at that. It’s tough to get in front of the team and tell them that when everybody’s hurting as much as they are, but that’s the bottom line, man.
“If you consider yourself a tough NFL football player, well then, damn, look at yourself in the mirror, pick yourself up and get ready to go back to work.”
Defensive end Derek Wolfe hopes his teammates remain united despite the team’s first 0-4 start in 20 years. If they begin to splinter, it will ruin more than just the team’s season. It also impacts the fabric of the game, Wolfe said.
"This is something that will either make or break you as a team,” Wolfe said. “You either stick together or you separate, and everybody becomes an individual and does what’s best for themselves. That’s when football isn’t fun anymore: whenever you’re not playing as a team. Hopefully we can stay together and use this. Adversity can either bring you together, or it can break you. We have to use it to bring us together, use it as a positive. Otherwise, we’re in for another [expletive] season.”
Wolfe and Miller have been in Denver for the highest of moments. They’ve stood on a field in Santa Clara, California with confetti raining down. They’ve won AFC West road game after AFC West road game. They’ve racked up sacks and turned in dominating performances.
And right now, they’re together in a locker room that has dealt with a series of crushing blows.
The former Super Bowl 50 MVP only sees one way forward.
“At the end of the day, we play professional football,” Miller said. “It’s the pros. There’s no room for people that want to go out there and halfway do it or quit or have second thoughts or anything like that. We’re in it. We’ve got Week 5 coming up.
“The only way out is up.”