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History not kind to NFL teams that lose first two games, as Broncos look to avoid doing so

Only 11 percent have made playoffs since 2007
Posted at 5:19 PM, Sep 17, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-17 19:29:50-04

ENGLEWOOD -- Two weeks is not a long time. It is fundamentally unfair to judge with a glance, a peek, a sip. But then history clomps into the picture with an awkward, sobering reminder.

The Broncos have never started a season 0-2 and made the playoffs.

They have gone 0-2 three times over the last quarter century, in 1994, 1999 and 2019. The Ned Flanders folks on the Zoom call will suggest last year was an anomaly, a term coach Vic Fangio applied after he mistakenly failed to call a timeout on the Titans' final drive.

For the sake of Broncos Country, let's hope last season was an outlier because statistics are not kind to teams who go winless in their first two games. Only 11.2% have reached the postseason since 2017 — 12 of 107. And none made it a year ago.

I asked Broncos safety Kareem Jackson about weighing the record with the realistic issues of no offseason and a spree of injuries.

"You can say that, but for us we don’t want to balance urgency and perspective. For us, we want to do what we need to do to win. We don’t want to give ourselves a timetable and say, ‘Alright no preseason, we have a couple weeks to get it right.’ No, we want to get it right off the bat," Jackson said. "Obviously, Monday night, the outcome wasn’t what we wanted it to be, but for us you have to take it as a learning experience and just keep going forward."

Monday stung because it represented a winnable game. The Broncos offensive line didn't allow a sack and had zero penalties. The defense held an opponent to 20 points or less for the ninth time in their past 13 games. And the stage did not look too big for Drew Lock. But the Broncos could not overcome a Jerry Jeudy drop, a missed touchdown strike by Lock and horrific clock management that cost the Broncos an additional 45 to 50 seconds on their final drive.

Coach Fangio hasn't publicly discussed how the latter will be different. But expect those communication issues to be cleaned up. Thursday, the coordinators stuck by Fangio.

"Vic’s a hell of a play caller. He’s one of the best guys that have taken the sidelines in years," said defensive coordinator Ed Donatell on if he suggested he call the defensive signals to allow Fangio to shift his focus. "We’ve coached 200 games now together — almost 200. We have a flow about us. It’s an isolated incident. My job is to support him. We’re a team together."

Added offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur, when asked about getting in Fangio's ear to stop the clock, "We all communicate and it’s pretty seamless. I think he addressed it, so I’ll leave it at that.”

The Broncos recognize that no opponent cares about their injuries -- cornerback A.J. Bouye is out three weeks and Phillip Lindsay is not expected to play Sunday -- or inexperience. The schedule has done the Broncos no favors. They open with three opponents who are all expected to reach the playoffs in Tennessee, Pittsburgh and Tampa Bay.

Still, no excuses. The time to win is the present because the future offers little optimism for falling to 0-2.

The Broncos signed veteran outside linebacker Anthony Chickillo off the Saints' practice squad. He has not cleared COVID-19 protocols in his transfer to a new team, leaving him more likely to play in Week 3. ...

Outside linebacker Isaiah Irving was added to the practice squad and will compete with Derrek Tuszka for a spot on the active roster this week. ...

Shurmur is not concerned about Jerry Jeudy after his two drops. "I'm confident because I’ve seen him do too many good things. He’s a young player, and whatever happened in that game, all the young players are going to learn from it."

It’s a season of big sports events airing this fall on Denver7. Check out our upcoming schedule:

  • Sept. 21: NFL Monday Night Football: Saints vs Raiders
  • Sept. 29: MLB Wild Card Series
  • Sept. 30: MLB Wild Card Series
  • Sept. 30: NBA Finals Game 1 on Denver7
  • Oct. 1: Broncos vs Jets on Denver7
  • Oct. 1: MLB Wild Card Series (If needed)
  • Oct. 2: NBA Finals Game 2 on Denver7
  • Oct. 4: NBA Finals Game 3 on Denver7
  • Oct. 6: NBA Finals Game 4 on Denver7
  • Oct. 9: NBA Finals Game 5 on Denver7
  • Oct. 11: NBA Finals Game 6 on Denver7
  • Oct. 13: NBA Finals Game 7 on Denver7