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'We've got to win more games': Broncos know they must find more team success to earn future Pro Bowl honors

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — The Pro Bowl formula is no secret.

Win, and you're more likely to have a slew of players featured.

The one-loss Eagles had eight members of their team selected to the 2023 Pro Bowl Games, and the Chiefs (11-3) and Cowboys (10-4) each had seven players make the list.

The aforementioned teams may have been spurred to those records in part because of their talented rosters, but it's unlikely they'd receive the same amount of Pro Bowlers if they sat closer to — or below — .500 for the season.

An elite performer can bypass a team's difficulties, as Pat Surtain II showed in becoming Denver's first Pro Bowler since 2020. Largely, though, individual accomplishments are a byproduct of team success.

So while Head Coach Nathaniel Hackett believes there are many players who are deserving of Pro Bowl consideration, he recognized Thursday that Denver must first find more on-field success as a group.

"I'm biased," Hackett said. "I think everybody should be considered [for] that, but we've got to win more games so that more discussion can happen there. There's so many guys who have done such a great job for us. We've just got to win some more football games first."

Safety Justin Simmons nearly joined Surtain in the Pro Bowl despite the lack of wins and missing five games this season. Just one free safety was chosen from each conference, though, which left Simmons on the outside of the league's all-star game. Simmons also suffered from the timing of the vote, as his recent two-interception game came a couple of days after Pro Bowl voting ended.

"[I'm] obviously disappointed, right?" Simmons said. "One of my goals was to be a starter, but I think with putting things in perspective, missing five games this year — the four on IR and then obviously missed the Titans game after the bye — it was disappointing, but at the same time, missing five games and still being able to be up there in the conversation is still special. I think it's really cool, just a testament to my play and how coaches and other players around the league look at that as well. I think it's also a great group of guys. No ill will or shots at them. I think they're amazing talents and elevating the safety position. Obviously I think highly of myself and [am] confident in my abilities. It's just more motivation. Just like last year, making first alternate. … [I'll] just continue to build and keep this thing going."

Hackett said be believed Simmons would have made the cut if he hadn't missed what equates to more than a quarter of the season, but as the Broncos move forward, they'll aim to focus on team goals.

"I just think as a team all around though, we had potential obviously this season," Surtain said. "[It] didn't go the way like how we wanted it to, but as a team, we're just focused on team goals. We don't try to look at all that other stuff as a team. We just try to see what we can accomplish, the goals that we set before the season … that we can improve on. As far as [the] Pro Bowl goes, we can't control who goes in and who's not in. As a team, as of late right now, we've improved a lot and we've gotten better week in and week out."

The Broncos will look for wins in the weeks to come — and when the new season arrives.

If they're successful in improving in the win-loss column, they should find the Pro Bowl respect will follow.

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