As the Broncos get some much-needed rest during their bye week, attention will soon turn toward the back half of the season. At 3-5, Denver's opening slate has not turned out how the team has hoped, but there have been flashes of what the team can be — and as Head Coach Nathaniel Hackett said Tuesday, the fact that the Broncos have been in so many close games is a good indicator.
"The No. 1 thing is that this team fights," Hackett said. "You've seen it every game. It comes down to the wire, whether the offense has an opportunity, defense has an opportunity, the defense is keeping us in the game, or the offense having a chance to move the ball down and having a chance to win the game. That's so important. It's so important for this team to battle together throughout everything. That's the adversity that you go through in this game. To be able to get over that hump, it's about making those big plays."
In just 10 days, the Broncos will be back in action and looking to take advantage of the momentum they got with a win in London, and ESPN’s Jeff Legwold writes that their fortunes could depend on four big factors.
As Hackett referenced above, one of those is making big plays, and few players have provided more of those than speedster KJ Hamler, who has averaged almost 24 yards per reception on his seven catches this season. In Legwold's opinion, Hamler could be ready for a bigger role when the team returns.
"The Broncos have six pass plays of at least 45 yards this season and Hamler has made three of those," Legwold wrote. "And if London is any indication, the Broncos have found something worth exploring in grouping rookie tight end Greg Dulcich and Hamler on the same side of the formation.
"It creates indecision for the defense and results in coverage matchups with players too small to handle Dulcich and too slow for Hamler."
And from a more philosophical standpoint, Legwold posits, the Broncos should hold tight to the fortitude they showed in rallying against the Jaguars.
"They showed great composure in Wembley when they trailed 10-0 early and 17-14 in the final minutes," Legwold wrote. "They keep saying they're trying to shut out 'the noise,' but it's time to actually do it."
Below the Fold
A couple of Broncos players made a big impression in Denver's Week 8 win with Pro Football Focus, as they recently highlighted performances by Justin Simmons and Greg Dulcich. Simmons was one of two safeties selected for PFF’s Team of the Week, and Dulcich was ranked No. 12 in their Week 8 rookie grades.
"Dulcich has been on a tear ever since returning from IR in Week 6," Michael Renner wrote. "He's racked up 182 yards over that span, including 87 this past Sunday against the Jacksonville Jaguars. He caught 4-of-5 targets, with three resulting in a first down."