As eight teams begin to practice and focus on their opponents heading into NFL Wild Card weekend, the Denver Broncos have a different focus, and it is not getting rest for the divisional round. Sure, any team with a bye week in the playoffs wants to lick their wounds before having to play again, but the Broncos, as a whole, understand that they are not a finished product by any stretch of the imagination.
One thing that the coaching staff from head coach John Fox down, as well as Peyton Manning, has stressed all season is the ability to improve in areas that have given them problems from week to week. The Broncos will never boast of their record, their individual accomplishments, or anything else they have done to receive a first round bye and home field advantage throughout the playoffs.
Instead, the only fodder that the media or fans will ever be privy to is the fact that they still have work to do in all phases of their game. That is what separates great teams from good teams when all is said and done. Early in the season when timing and costly mistakes were an issue, all we heard was that they will continue to grow and work on their faults. The Broncos did that.
Each time the Broncos came out slow in the first half, and fell behind their opponents, Manning and company would simply state that they needed to play a full 60 minutes in order to compete at a level that would bring them closer to their goals. They fixed that as well. Now is definitely not the time for the Broncos to be complacent with their abilities and what has gotten them to 13-3.
“Right now, I think we need to focus on us,” cornerback Champ Bailey said. “Make sure we correct the things that we struggle with or things that we’ve had little problems with and then from there, we’ll find out who our opponent is and then start preparing for them.”
The Broncos have had trouble on special teams and in their running game of late with fumbles by PR Trindon Holliday and RB Ronnie Hillman. These issues can not creep up in the playoffs against the likes of the Baltimore Ravens, Houston Texans, Cincinnati Bengals, Indianapolis Colts or the New England Patriots. These teams are just too good and will capitalize on any mistake an opponent makes.
“It’s just ourselves, individual technique, anything,” defensive end Elvis Dumervil said of what to correct. “As a player, look in the mirror and just try to get better. There is always room for improvement.”
As the Broncos find out who their opponent will be after this coming weekend, hopefully they will be able to go into game preparation knowing that they have looked at themselves individually, then as a team, and given themselves the best chance to advance to an AFC Championship game. One thing is for certain, they will not be playing the likes of their division opponents this postseason. No, what lies ahead is more reminiscent of what they battled through the first few games of the 2012 season. They tried, and failed, to mount comebacks in three of those games against the Atlanta Falcons, Texans and Patriots, all playoff teams. They do not want to be in that predicament again.
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