DENVER — After a dismal 34-24 loss to the Las Vegas Raiders Sunday that had the paying customers streaming for the exits before the third quarter ended, an emotional Von Miller appealed to his Denver Broncos teammates to worry about one thing: themselves.
“Von said it in the locker room, it’s time for everybody to look in the mirror and see what we’re doing wrong, not looking to anyone else,” said tight end Noah Fant. “… Just farming our own land instead of looking around.”
“Basically … we’re not doing enough to win, it’s nobody’s fault, we’ve got to point the finger at ourselves,” Miller said. ” … We got all type of talented people everywhere … we’ve got to trust each other.”
Miller, in his 11th year with the team and the longest tenured Broncos player, has seen the highest of football peaks with the Super Bowl 50 win and the lowest of valleys with five consecutive playoff misses heading into this season. And now he’s seen a 3-0 start dissove into a three-game losing streak.
Sunday’s loss brought boos from the team’s faithful before halftime. It stung a little more given all of the turmoil the Raiders had faced in the days leading up to the game with coach Jon Guden’s resignation. The Raiders were the more prepared, emotionally ready team for most of the day, though.
Given the Broncos’ struggles of the previous five seasons — two three-game losing streaks last year or the 0-4 start in 2019 or the eight-game losing streak in 2017 — Miller felt the need to try to push the football train back on the tracks. Coach Vic Fangio will face some ramped-up scrutiny after another home loss — they are 3-8 in their past 11 home games — but Miller said the Broncos needed to keep the focus on the Broncos in the helmets.
“When you lose a couple games everybody’s open to suggestion,” Miller said. “… People start thinking maybe we should do this, maybe we should do that, we should try this, we should try that. This is pro ball, it’s not little league, high school. … We got to trust everybody to do their job.”
Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, safety Justin Simmons and Fant were quick to join that message. And while the offense’s struggles over the past three games, especially when the games are in the balance, has been a concern, the Broncos defense is suddenly a red-flag problem the team didn’t expect to have.
The Raiders, with the team’s primary playcaller in Gruden having been removed from the equation, put together seven plays of at least 25 yards against the Broncos. The Raven’s Lamar Jackson, the Steelers’ Ben Roethlisberger and the Raiders’ Derek Carr have combined for two 300-yard passing games, five touchdowns and just one interception over the past three games.
Miller has a half of a sack during that time and the Broncos’ secondary, which openly talked of being the best in the league during training camp, has one interception as opponents continue to pile up the big plays.
“It starts with me,” Miller said. “I’ve got to do a better job. I slipped, we started out winning, I got to double down, I’ve got to find a way to make a play, pressure the quarterback, I’ve got to do what I do best,” Miller said. “… I’ve got lead better, do a better job rushing the passer, I’ve go to do a better job all around. I’m confident that’s I will be able to do, I’m confident that I can get it fixed. That’s why I’ve been here 11 years, because I’ve always found a way to get it fixed. I’m confident I can get myself fixed.”
“Simply put, we got our butts whipped,” Simmons said. “We got to play better, I definitely have to play better, and I’m going to get this figured out. … At a certain point you can’t just say it, it has to be fixed.”