ENGLEWOOD — The Broncos boast a 3-4 record. They have lost four straight. They remind me of life as a young parent when I left the house without the diaper bag.
"It's not time to panic, but it almost is," Broncos quarterback Teddy Bridgewater said when I asked about balancing urgency with pressing. "It's definitely a locker room that's still together. You can sense, like man, I told the guys yesterday we have to have a sense of urgency. ... This thing can go in the wrong direction fast."
Bridgewater believes a competitive mindset in practice can help the Broncos execute a U-turn. There's no denying that the season is teetering. Denver has replaced a perfect September with an 0-fer October, losing all elasticity and siphoning goodwill. There are no mulligans left after losses in winnable games against the Steelers, Raiders and Browns.
As disappointing as the defense is — opponents' 45 percent third-down conversion rate remains staggering — the offense continues to impersonate a sloth. The Broncos have scored two first-quarter touchdowns this season. They are averaging 4 points in the first half during the current skid.
Improving on early downs to make third down more manageable is a clear priority. However, it will require creativity — perhaps mixing in some uptempo or using the pass to set up the run. The return of Jerry Jeudy should help.
After a six-game absence with a sprained right ankle, Jeudy is set to start on Sunday. He and Bridgewater formed a strong connection this offseason, and Jeudy brings a special skill set, differing from standout Courtland Sutton and always reliable Tim Patrick.
"Jerry is a guy who is quarterback friendly. He's one of those guys, if he missed numerous days or weeks, when he's out there he just finds ways to get open," Bridgewater said. "He communicates with the quarterback with his route running. He's easy to throw the ball to."
Young and Restless
Excuse Kenny Young for not reacting to his trade to the Broncos with smiles and party balloons. He starred at UCLA and became a standout with the Rams this season. So after notching a sack in a win last Sunday, the last thing on his mind was a deal.
"You never know what to expect. It's the business of football. My obligation is to do my job. I will just keep it at that. At that time, we were on a run, and it was confusing to me for a second," Young said.
Young exited, believing he was part of a financial transaction. The Rams wanted to save roughly $1.3 million by playing a rookie, and did not intend to sign Young after the season. In Denver, Young joins a struggling team — he does have the UCLA connection with GM George Paton — but could become part of the longterm future if he starts and plays well.
I expect Young to appear in significant snaps this weekend after the Broncos linebackers slumped against the Browns.
Outside linebacker Von Miller (left ankle) worked on the side field. He remains questionable for Sunday's game, but said last week he planned to play. ...
Safety Justin Simmons admitted there have been several meetings with coaches and players to try and get the defense back on track. "There's no one jumping off the ship in terms of our building. But you've got to have the sense of urgency that, 'Alright, listen. We have been preaching this the last four weeks and we've got to go out there and do it.' At this point, there's no talking about it. It's about getting a win."