ENGLEWOOD, Colo. – There are just over 100 days left until Sept. 12.
On that Monday evening, the Broncos will kick off their season against the Seattle Seahawks – and very little will look the same from the 2021 season.
Denver will feature a new head coach, a new quarterback and new schemes on both offense and defense.
Before the Broncos reach Week 1, they’ll have a trio of preseason games, a slew of training camp practices and a handful of remaining OTA and minicamp practices to prepare.
In wide receiver Tim Patrick’s mind, that’s not enough. If the Broncos want to take strides and break a streak of losing seasons, there’s more to do. And there’s little time to waste.
“It’s an every-day thing,” Patrick said of the team putting extra work in. “Helps It helps because, like you guys know, the offense is difficult and just the regular routine practice is not going to be enough for us to get it down pat.”
Patrick called the system a “one-of-one” offense that combines Head Coach Nathaniel Hackett’s principles with the system in which quarterback Russell Wilson has found success during his decade-long career.
“It’s not something that’s really been taught before,” Patrick said of the offense.
For the wide receivers, it’s also a system that should give them an edge against opposing cornerbacks.
“Everything plays off each other,” Patrick said. “There’s no tells in our plays. We have, I guess you would say, five routes that all look the same, so you can never just key in on one route. The defense has to play us honest, especially corners.”
That offensive variation, though, requires a little extra work to master. And the Broncos are determined to reach that level of competency faster than one might expect.
“We have to do things on our own so we can get it,” Patrick said, “because we don’t want to be one of those teams to make excuses – new coach, new quarterback, new offense – and we don’t get going until the end of the year.
“We want to come out of the gate firing on all cylinders, because it’s Super Bowl or bust this year.”
Patrick’s point about slow starts is well taken. When Peyton Manning arrived in Denver in 2012, the Broncos struggled to a 2-3 start and a 21-0 deficit against the Chargers in Week 6 before the offense clicked and led the Broncos to 11 consecutive wins. If the Broncos want to compete for their first AFC West title since 2015, that kind of slow start seems unwise – particularly as Denver faces a late-season schedule that features six consecutive games against top-tier teams and quarterbacks.
In addition to the normal installation meetings and practice time, Patrick and his fellow receivers have spent extra time with Wilson on the field and in the meeting room.
“Team meetings with Russ, team meetings with each other,” Patrick said of his schedule. “Meetings, meetings, meetings. There’s a lot.”
Patrick commented he needed to exit Wednesday’s media availability quickly to attend another meeting, which provided another example of the change in expectations at UCHealth Training Center.
“When you see somebody carry themselves the right way every day, it makes you up your game,” Patrick said of the Wilson effect. “Not to slack and to put winning first at the end of the day. We’re all here to win a Super Bowl, and if our quarterback is doing it, no one else has an excuse not to do it.
“… If you can’t put in extra work, you’re not serious about winning and you don’t belong on this team.”