ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — I still think there is a mental toughness head coach Vic Fangio instilled into this Broncos team that will eventually pay off.
All those extra training camp practices, those extra long practices, and those numerous physical, padded practices will bode well for the Broncos at some point.
Whether this toughness becomes a factor this Sunday at Green Bay remains to be seen. It would help if the Broncos also had a little more depth and overall team speed to go along with that mental toughness, but one step at a time for a team coming off 5-11 and 6-10 seasons.
On paper, this is a mismatch. Not a Patriots-Jets or Dallas-Dolphins mismatch but the 0-2 Broncos will be decided underdogs Sunday when they play at 2-0 Green Bay.
What’s been surprising about the Packers’ nice start is their defense has carried them. The Broncos’ offense has moved the ball with the best of them through two games, but they’re scoring among the worst.
Follow this Klis List and the Broncos can pull off the upset Sunday at Lambeau Field:
Aaron Rodgers, the Packers’ great quarterback, has been sacked seven times through two games. Most quarterbacks known for extending plays are sackable.
Which the Broncos need. Von Miller, Bradley Chubb and the Fangio defense don’t have one sack yet this year. They should get three or four against Rodgers.
*Play from ahead
And we’re not talking a field goal lead after the first possession. The Broncos need a two-score lead if they are to play to the strength of their defense, which is supposed to be their pass rush.
*Short field through turnovers or kicking game
So far, the Broncos have been a 50 yards-in-12 plays type offense. Methodical is putting it mildly. It’s not easy going 80 yards without mixing in a big play.
Which explains why for all their sustained drives (42.12 yards per possession, 5th-best in NFL) the Broncos have had little to show for it (15.0 points per game, 5th-worst in league).
Start a drive from the 50 on in and see if the Broncos can find the end zone. A takeaway would help – the Denver D has yet to get one through two games.
And with the big leg of Packers punter JK Scott, a former Mullen High School standout, perhaps Broncos returner Diontae Spencer can break off a long one.
*Stop the holding penalties
The Broncos have been called for 9 holding penalties in two games – five by left tackle Garett Bolles, three by right guard Ron Leary and one by tight end Noah Fant.
They have been drive killers.
*Better red zone
The Broncos have converted just 2 of 7 red-zone possessions into touchdowns, a .286 percentage that ranks 30th in the league. Only the Cardinals and Bengals are worse.
*Give Lindsay a crease
Second-year running back Phillip Lindsay remains the Broncos’ most explosive player. He just hasn’t exploded yet. After rushing for 1,037 yards in 15 games as a rookie, Lindsay has been held to 79 yards in two games on 3.3 yards a carry.
His receiving production is up as he has 8 catches for 53 yards. A big play from Lindsay, though, would do wonders for the Broncos’ offense.
*Fear not, Lambeau Field
The Packers are only 7-6-1 in their last 14 games at home, dating back to the second half of their 2017 season. OK, so Rodgers was hurt and didn’t play in the Packers’ 1-4 home finish in 2017. Still, the Pack is not quite as invincible at home as people might think.