It is something that has been said time and time again in the world of sports: "they can only get better". When a team bottoms out, fans can at least find comfort in knowing the worst has already happened. For Broncos fans, that saying rings a bit hollow. Every time it feels like things in Denver could not possibly get worse, they inevitably do.
After enduring two gut-wrenching losses in weeks one and two, the Broncos went on to suffer one of the worst defeats in NFL history, allowing 70 points to the Dolphins in an embarrassing 70-20 loss. To make matters worse, Miami had a chance to tie the NFL record for points scored in a game, but instead of kicking a record-tying field goal, the Dolphins took a knee on fourth down in an act of pity for a dramatically inferior opponent.
Allowing 70 points is a new low point for Denver, but to anyone who has followed the team over the last several years, hitting a new low is nothing special. In the post-Manning era, the Broncos have perpetually floundered between organizational lows that continuously get lower.
2022 as a whole felt like the lowest point Denver could possibly stoop to, yet here we are just three weeks into 2023, reacting to a historic 50-point loss while calling for jobs and formulating trade packages in our heads. It's a deflating feeling. The Broncos are 0-3 and fans are already having conversations about blowing up the team and tanking for the number one draft pick.
If there is a bright side in all of this, it is that the Broncos still have 14 games remaining to turn things around. The problem is that the defense has been so pitiful winning even a couple games feels like an impossible task. The Broncos simply do not have the right personnel or coaching on that side of the ball to make winning a substantial amount of those remaining games feasible.
As it stands now, the Broncos will not be cutting ties with any coaches or coordinators. After the 70-20 debacle in Miami, fans have been calling for defensive coordinator Vance Joseph's firing, but it looks like Joseph will remain on the sidelines for the time being.
While I personally would be all for cutting ties with Joseph, it is understandable why the Broncos are keeping him in place. For an already struggling defense, losing its defensive coordinator just three weeks into the season would be of no benefit. The defense ultimately lacks talent, and Joseph isn't a good enough coordinator to make up for it, but the Broncos have their hands tied. There is no coach who can magically transform the defense, and no available player who can change its fortunes on a whim. They are stuck with a bad unit, that is just the reality.
It is a strange feeling. The Broncos have relied solely on it's defense to stay afloat over the last few years. Now that the offense is finally average, the defense has fallen off a cliff. While the defense regressing into one of the league's bottom feeders was unexpected, it is still no surprise that something has gone horribly wrong for the Broncos.
After witnessing the last seven (going on eight) seasons of subpar football, Broncos fans have grown to expect the worst. Even with the addition of Sean Payton, expectations for the 2023 Broncos were fairly low. Now, through three dreadful weeks of football, those low expectations have dropped even further.
It is still possible for the Broncos to turn things around. Denver's next two games will be against arguably it's two weakest opponents in the Bears and Jets, and Sean Payton-coached teams historically perform better after September, but this is Denver. If the last seven years of Broncos football serves as any evidence, things can and will get worse.
Low expectations, half-empty stadiums, a fanbase filled with feelings of apathy- these are the modern era Broncos. These Broncos snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, they suffer debilitating lopsided losses and when they've hit rock bottom, they just keep digging.