ENGLEWOOD, Colo. – The Denver Broncos insist they're not as rotten as their record or their luck.
"We're 0-4," linebacker Todd Davis said, "but we're not an 0-4 team.”
They're not the dreary Dolphins , who have been outscored 163-26.
They're not the bungling Bengals , who have been outscored 110-57.
They're not the revolting Redskins , who have been outscored 118-66.
The bedeviled Broncos have been outscored 93-70.
They've taken two 3-1 teams to the end in the Packers and Bears and they've lost twice on field goals as time expired, to Chicago and Jacksonville.
Still, the Broncos are 0-4 just like Miami, Cincinnati and Washington.
"I think the most frustrating thing is that we've had chances to win games, and we haven't been able to do that," general manager John Elway said on 850 KOA in Denver this week. "I think that's why I am still very positive about what we've got going on. I really like our staff and really believe we have the players to win."
Vic Fangio, who's off to the worst start for a head coach in franchise history, insists all this losing isn’t due to a talent drain.
"I still believe in them," Fangio said. "I think they're winners as individuals. We have to find a way to be winners as a team and we're not playing well enough consistently enough to do that. But I do believe in these guys."
The Broncos ended September trailing the Chiefs by four games in the AFC West, but they suffered their biggest loss of the year this week with word that rising star Bradley Chubb was done for the year.
He played on an ACL tear Sunday against Jacksonville and nearly won the game for Denver with a strip of quarterback Gardner Minshew II, but like every other game this year, the ball didn't bounce their way. The football ricocheted right back at Minshew, who got the throw off just in time.
With a few breaks, the Broncos could be 2-2 or even 3-1 and feeling good.
“When we do come out of this, you’re going to look back on this time period and see how much character it’s built on this football team,” quarterback Joe Flacco said Wednesday. “I think it’s going to pay dividends once we come out the other side.”
It gets no easier, though: none of their remaining opponents have a losing record right now.
When they visit the Los Angeles Chargers (2-2) on Sunday, the Broncos will be trying to snap an eight-game skid, the longest active losing streak in the league.
On film, Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers said, these Broncos remind him of the 2017 Chargers, who lost their first four games before rebounding to finish 9-7 and narrowly miss a wild-card berth.
“Golly, they could very easily be sitting there 2-2 or 3-1 just the way these games have gone,” Rivers said. “And that’s much like our start in ‘17 when we ... you look up and you’re 0-4 and you know you’re better than that. And I know what we see on tape is a good Denver Broncos team.”
The Chargers are 23-9 since that 0-4 start under coach Anthony Lynn that included three losses by seven total points.
“We just didn’t flinch and stayed true to the process,” Lynn said. “We kept reemphasizing things because at that point you need clarity and the guys need to understand exactly what the expectations and standards are and as long as you do that it’s going to turn. I knew then it was going to turn and I’m pretty sure Vic knows it’s going to turn with his squad. I’m just hoping that he doesn’t turn it this week.”
Like Lynn two years ago, Fangio is keeping the faith.
“We've got the players here to win," Fangio said. "I believe in these players, I enjoy being around them every day. They're a bunch of good guys. They're trying their butts off. We just have to play a little bit better. Along with that, we have to coach better. If we're breaking down fundamentally in certain areas at critical times that is an indictment on us as coaches, too.”
Elway was asked this week by 850 KOA's Dave Logan, the team's longtime-play-by-play announcer, if there would ever come a point where he'd consider walking away, given his notoriously competitive nature.
"It's always tough, and it doesn't get any (easier) the older you get. It actually gets probably a little bit tougher. Ultimately, this comes down to me, so I'm here to get this thing figured out, and we're going to keep battling on this thing, and we're going to try and find a way to win some football games,” Elway said.