ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — As the Broncos approach a divisional matchup with the Las Vegas Raiders, they hold a 2-1 record, a dominant defense and an opportunistic offense that has risen to the occasion in each of the last two fourth quarters.
But Head Coach Nathaniel Hackett and quarterback Russell Wilson both have far higher expectations for the team's offensive unit.
Through three weeks, the Broncos have totaled just three touchdowns and have averaged the second-fewest points per game of any team. As the Broncos' season continues, both Hackett and Wilson know those numbers must increase.
Fortunately, they each see the path forward.
"Scoring a lot of points and scoring in the red zone and converting on third down," Hackett said Wednesday of the desired goal. "Getting good run game, good pass game, good balance between the two of those. I think that's what we're aiming for. We have yet to really turn it on, I think. Right now, it's a lot of self-inflicted wounds. I think that's the positive thing. I think it's about us as a group. It's about me as a play-caller, first and foremost, and then getting Russell in a rhythm, getting the running backs in a rhythm, getting everybody in a rhythm to be efficient and also be able to get explosive plays."
Perfecting the offense, though, will take time. Hackett reiterated the impact the newness of the system and that the Broncos weren't "just going to get up there and roll right away."
The Broncos' head coach has seen signs of progress and of "great moments." Now, Denver's offense just needs to find those moments on a consistent basis.
"That starts with me being able to get him in a rhythm and understanding him," Hackett said. "I can help him with the play calls that make him get into that flow, get him into the rhythm with the different players that he has around him. We've just got to continually grow and continually get better. It's early in the season, and we just want to keep getting better."
How long that process will take is anyone's guess. Hackett said there's no perfect answer, and it's varied at his previous stops.
The process, Hackett said, is not simple. An offense attempts to meld the cadence, play call and route patterns to find an edge. Plus, there's the overarching need to understanding the intricacies of an offense and how it lends itself to attack defenses.
"There's so many things that go into this game," Hackett said. "Sometimes it happens quicker, sometimes it takes a little longer. I think in the end as long as we're continually learning from the different things and guys are growing within the system, I think it's going to be good."
Wilson, who has come up big in key moments in the Broncos' two wins, believes the success that follows that growth is not far off.
"In terms of where I think we're headed and where I think we're going, we're so close — there's just so many [plays] — like the deep ball to Jerry [Jeudy against San Francisco]," Wilson said. "It was just [so close]. We almost had that one. There's just so many other moments throughout these games. The great part is that we have the work ethic, we have the focus and we have all of that."
And when the offense clicks, Wilson believes the Broncos could have a truly special team.
"We're excited," Wilson said. "We're excited because with our defense, how elite they're playing, how great they are and how amazing they've been, I can't wait for when we turn it around and how great it's going to be, because we could be really unstoppable. We really believe that, and we're going to be. You just take it one day at a time and one moment at a time. You don't look at the whole end journey, you just look at the moment right now, the next play, the next moment. You have to win that moment. When that happens and we're able to continually do that, it gives us a better chance to be successful week in and week out."
The Broncos will get their next chance this weekend as they visit a Raiders team that ranks 21st in total defense and 24th in points per game.
The Denver offense has all the pieces to find success. On the road against a division rival, they'll try to put it all together.