So, are the Broncos soft? (Asking for a friend.)
Their 20-17 loss Sunday to the Bengals dropped Denver to 3-7 and extended its losing streak to six games.
General manager John Elway, speaking Friday at a ceremony honoring former Broncos coach Red Miller and Pro Football Hall of Fame running back Terrell Davis, traced the current struggles to a fast start to 2017 that led to complacency: “To be dead honest with you, we got a little bit soft. We went 4-0 in the preseason, we started out 3-1, then we get a bye week, and if you exhale in this league, you’re in trouble.”
According to ESPN.com, several players said Elway’s comments were a topic in their meetings Saturday night. Then Sunday afternoon … another loss.
And then … the topic between Broncos players and reporters (via The Denver Post) was that four-letter word: S-O-F-T.
Linebacker Von Miller: “He’s the head guy. His comments — he’s the boss. … I was kind of taken aback by it, which you should be. If you have any kind of emotion about you … your reaction should be: ‘What? I’m not soft.’ But if you take a look back at it, the truth is, that’s what we’ve been putting out there. That’s the type of team that we’ve developed into. That’s what we got. It’s the truth. He’s telling the truth.”
Cornerback Chris Harris Jr.: “Everybody in this organization is accountable for how we’re playing right now. Ain’t nothing soft in my bones.”
Wide receiver Demaryius Thomas: “He wouldn’t have said it if he wasn’t telling the truth. We’ve lost six in a row. I think there’s a little softness in us somewhere and he’s talking about everybody, including me.”
Linebacker Brandon Marshall: “We definitely didn’t take kindly to those remarks. I understand this is his team and he put it together, so his name is on it. But it’s our skin in the game. Nobody is soft on this team. We work our ass off and we work hard. We play hard and we go out there and give it 100 every game and every practice. We just fall short.”
Nose tackle Domata Peko: “Losing five in a row, that’s soft. How many turnovers we’ve been giving away, that’s soft. Dropping punt returns, that’s softness. Letting people run on us last week and the week before — that’s what coach was telling us, too, and he showed us that last night. I feel like today we were out there playing hard as hell. I didn’t feel too soft today out there. I felt really good. That’s just constructive criticism that, as a man, you’ve got to take it.”