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It's still Super Bowl 'or bust' as Broncos reconvene

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. --Most of the coaches and some of the players changed over the three months separating the divisional-round loss to Indianapolis from Monday's start of offseason workouts. The Broncos' mentality, however, did not.

"If we don't bring a Super Bowl to this city this year, then it's a bust season, and that's the standard," said wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders.

Getting there begins with mastering the details over the next five months, from the first repetition Monday morning until the Week 1 kickoff -- which, if the Broncos begin on a Sunday, is exactly five months away.

When Head Coach Gary Kubiak walked into the team meeting room, he looked up at seats filled with players, and a two-word message on the back wall in all-caps: "BE ACCOUNTABLE."

The Broncos got back to work Monday, April 13, with the first phase of their offseason program.

"Just like Emmanuel's shirt says, 'Iron sharpens iron.' That's where it all starts out -- guys being there for each other and digging in. These OTAs, mini camps and training camp, that's where it starts. You build that," said outside linebacker DeMarcus Ware.

"The conglomerate of guys that are together in the trenches week-in-and-week-out -- that's what [Kubiak] sort of talked about. It starts right here in this room and it's about the small things. Taking care of all the small things from the fundamentals and doing everything you need to do in the classroom."

It's about mastering the tiny details now to create big success later. And it's also about putting the past where it belongs.

To that end, the only part of history that Kubiak wants his players to consider is what created world championships, not what caused the Broncos to fall short of their goal.

That led the new coach to screen a 10-minute highlight film of big Super Bowl plays from the last 20 world champions during a Monday morning team meeting -- including Super Bowl XLVIII, which the Broncos lost to the Seahawks, 43-8.

"It definitely hurt (to see Super Bowl XLVIII clips)," Sanders said. "I didn't even play in that game, and I was just like, 'Wow,' but at the same time, it's motivation. We want to get back there and we want to win it. That's the main focus of this group -- is to win a Super Bowl. That's the expectation."

Optimism is easy to find around Broncos headquarters, even though a third loss in the last four divisional playoffs left a sour taste in players' mouths. That began a two-month period in which the team was in flux.

In addition to overhauling the coaching staff, the Broncos invested heavily in keeping some of their elite players via Von Miller's fifth-year option, the franchise tag to Demaryius Thomas and the five-year extension for Chris Harris Jr. signed in December.

But they lost four starters from January's playoff defeat. That group doesn't even include tight end Julius Thomas, who finished his second Pro Bowl season by playing 38 snaps in a rotational role.

If the Broncos linger over those departures, they'll falter. But new coaches and new nomenclature give the Broncos plenty of reasons to keep their focus on the moment and what's ahead.

"I think when you have your first meeting, the meeting is always about, 'The time is now. What are you in this room for?'" Ware said. "Our motto was, if you sit back and you think about the past, you can think about we could've done this in the playoffs, we could have done this two years ago. What about now? What about the guys in this room? How far can you take each other in this room?"

If the Broncos follow the words on the wall in their meeting room, they believe they can go as far as their abilities allow.

"[Kubiak] pretty much told us that it's going to take a special group of men to bring a world championship to this city," Sanders said, "but we've got the guys in this room that are going to do it."

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