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Next-Day Notebook: Even after Week 1 win, Broncos focused on meeting higher standard

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — It’s far more enjoyable to correct mistakes after a win rather than a loss.

Thirteen teams with 1-0 records are rediscovering that as they wake up Monday morning and turn their focus toward next week.

That’s especially good news for Denver, which earned a 27-24 victory over Seattle on Sunday but has plenty to fix ahead of a Week 2 game against the Oakland Raiders.

On offense, quarterback Case Keenum and the offense must find a way to protect the ball after turning it over three times on Sunday. Defensively, the Broncos will aim to shore up their tackling to prevent any other plays like the 66-yard Will Dissly catch and run that prompted a Seattle score.

Those plays left a blemish on an otherwise strong performance that included three takeaways, six sacks and more offensive yards than they’d totaled since Week 17 of 2015.

But as Head Coach Vance Joseph explained Monday, the team’s self-evaluation isn’t limited to a “W” or an “L.”

“It’s good to win, but we do have standards,” Joseph said. “And our standards can’t be measured by who we play. It’s got to be by how we play. I told our guys, ‘I’m excited about the win, but we can play better.’ We have higher standards than that. Especially defensively, not giving up four explosive plays. Yes, we’re satisfied to win, but we understand it’s a long year.

“It’s only Week 1, and we’re going to play good teams down the road. So we can’t play that way and expect to win every game by giving the ball away three times and giving up five explosive plays. It can’t happen.”

For an organization that’s started the last two seasons fast — 7-3 in 2016 and 4-1 in 2017 — that improvement will be paramount to its hope of maintaining success throughout the season.

KEEPING UP WITH THE JONES:

When Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson tossed up a last-gasp throw on Sunday, the Broncos’ newest cornerback came down with the ball.

And Adam Jones did far more Sunday than record a final-minute interception.

As Joseph said Monday, Jones was a key part of the Broncos’ efforts to neutralize the Seattle passing game.

“I thought he performed well,” Joseph said. “Obviously he wasn’t here in training camp with us. He was only here about a week and a half with us and played against Arizona a little bit. But I was very pleased on his assignment check and his eye placement and his technique. He challenged those guys a couple times where Russell wanted to go back to [Seahawks receiver Brandon] Marshall, and he couldn’t because Adam was all over him. He played well.

“One thing I know about him: He’s competitive and he’s tough. He was going to compete and he was going to tackle.”

On special teams, Jones also flashed his potential impact. He returned the first punt he caught 24 yards to the Denver 44-yard line, but a holding call wiped out the play. Jones was sure-handed on his other return, which came in the third quarter.

Jones did miss a couple of plays, though. Joseph wanted to see the veteran returner catch a first-quarter punt that bounced near the 10-yard line and was downed at the Denver 2-yard line and a fourth-quarter punt that backed the Broncos up to their own 13-yard line.

Joseph has reason to believe the 12-year veteran should improve as the season progresses. 

“As a returner, he’s going to do a good job for us,” Joseph said. “Now, he had two balls he should’ve caught. The one on the 10-yard line, he’s got to catch that ball and the last punt of the ball, he’s got to catch that ball. But the first one, you see what he can do with the ball in his hands. And he doesn’t have his legs yet. Honestly, he’s not in great shape right now. He’ll tell you that. But moving forward, he was a great guy to sign by John [Elway]. He’s helping our team in a large way.”

A LOT ON THE LINE:

One week into the season, the Broncos’ offensive line looks sharp.

In the team’s game against Seattle, Denver allowed just one sack — and Joseph said Monday that one miscue came on a play that called for a quick throw.

Joseph seemed particularly pleased with his offensive tackles Jared Veldheer and Garett Bolles. Veldheer played “really well” according to Joseph, and Bolles made strides after leading the league in holding penalties as a rookie.

Bolles’ visible improvement comes, in part, from a change in the way the Broncos are coaching him.

“I think, first, we’re coaching Garett differently,” Joseph said. “He’s a long, athletic tackle. We’re coaching him to set quicker and not give as much ground, to use his quickness on guys. If you’re facing a great rusher and you give him space, he can bull [rush] you or he can run around you. We’re getting Garett on guys quicker so he can use his feet and his great quickness to stay in front of guys. It’s preventing him [from] being so soft in the pocket like he was last year.”

Joseph knows Bolles and the line must continue to develop if the Broncos are to find sustained success.

“Offensive line-wise, I’ve been really, really pleased with preseason til now how they’ve played in the run game and the pass game,” Joseph said. “And that’s the key. If we’re going to win … and help Case play better and better each week, we’ve got to run the football and protect Case. So far, so good. Those guys [are] playing well for us.”

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