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'It's all going to start this Sunday': As Broncos begin stretch run, full focus is on matchup with Chargers

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — The temptation to look ahead is understandable.

With the Broncos at 5-5 and in the thick of the playoff race, it's only natural to want to peek ahead at the remaining schedule.

Seven games to go. Five division matchups, including a pair of games against both the Chargers and Chiefs.

Do the Broncos need to get to nine wins? How about 10? Those are both questions that accompany the urge to project out the remainder of the season.

And it's exactly what the Broncos cannot think about.

"My mindset … not to sound cliche and all that, is just 1-0," safety Justin Simmons said Wednesday. "I know, you can talk about what your record needs to look like [but then] I'm starting to think big picture [and] I'm not really thinking about today, what I've got to invest in practice today, what I got to do in a meeting, what I've got to do to help the defense prepare for a really good offense. I haven't even really thought about big picture.

"Obviously everyone wants to go to the playoffs, but I haven't really thought big picture what it's going to look like record-wise. I know we're right in the thick of it. If we obviously win more than we lose, we'll have a good shot. But it's all going to start this Sunday against the Chargers."

Head Coach Vic Fangio knows the value of the games that are yet to come, but he also emphasized that the games in late December and early January are only important if the Broncos take care of business in the coming weeks.

"Our total focus emotionally, mentally and physically is on this game," Fangio said. "And I think if you try to get ahead of yourself, you're only setting yourself up for a fall. We've got to play this game to make the rest of them more meaningful."

Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater said that message has been delivered from Fangio and is being circulated by the team's leaders. They'll aim to be the best version of themselves on Wednesday, then again on Thursday — and on and on from there.

"We enter this building every day with that mindset of it's one day at a time, but there's a lot at stake," Bridgewater said. "Seven games left, and each one of them holds maximum value."

Each will be important — and Bridgewater doesn't want to slip up again.

Asked how many wins the Broncos need to reach their goals, he didn't hesitate.

"All of 'em," Bridgewater said.


Former Broncos outside linebackers coach Brandon Staley coached Bradley Chubb for just four games in 2019 before Chubb suffered an ACL tear, but the former fifth-overall pick left a strong impression on the first-year Chargers head coach.

"Bradley Chubb means a lot to my family and I, and he's one of my favorite players that I've ever coached," Staley said Wednesday. "I have as much confidence in him as any player that I've ever coached. I have so much belief in the type of person that he is, the type of leader that he is, the type of competitor he is. I wouldn't be here without him. We're still extremely close. I only got to have four games with him, and it's one of those big regrets I have as a coach, because you just wish you had more time with a player like that. I'm just so proud of him. I'm so proud of his comeback. I stayed in touch with him when I left to go to the Rams. For him to make the Pro Bowl last year … I know what he means to that team, to that city, to that locker room. He's one of the best players I've ever coached, and I've been fortunate to coach a lot of special ones. I'm looking forward to him getting back on that field where he belongs. He's one of the top rushers in the game, and I'm just praying that he gets back fast. He means a lot to me. He's the best of the best."


A former Broncos pass rusher in DeMarcus Ware was named a Pro Football Hall of Fame semifinalist on Wednesday, and Fangio offered his perspective on the dominant edge player.

"He was consistent," Fangio said. "He played the run [and] obviously was a good pass rusher too. [He] was one of those guys that had a good effect on the team — on the defense in particular. On the entire team, he was a leader. His attitude [and] his personality … it permeated through the team."

Ware spent the last three years of his career in Denver and helped the team to a Super Bowl 50 win. He ranks in the top 10 in career sacks since the stat was officially tracked beginning in 1982.

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