ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) — Ownership was counting on Sean Payton making Broncos fans forget all about Nathaniel Hackett's miserable 2022 season in Denver.
Only, not like this.
Scowls and scolds have replaced the hugs and handshakes, but some of the bigger embarrassments remain such as the penchant for penalties, the burned timeouts and the troublesome turnovers.
September isn't over and Payton's already scrambling to salvage the season following the Broncos' breathtaking 50-point loss at Miami, where only the mercy of Mike McDaniel kept Denver's debacle simply horrific and not also historic.
Rather than tack on a short field goal in the final minute, McDaniel had his backup QB take a knee on fourth-and-14 at the Denver 27, bypassing the chance to break the regular-season record for points scored in a single game set by Washington against the New York Giants in 1966 and tie the all-time record set by the Chicago Bears in their 73-0 wipeout of Washington in the 1940 NFL championship game.
Still, it was Denver's biggest loss in its history and the 50-point margin of defeat represented the combined scoring differential for Denver's first nine losses under Hackett.
"You take a butt whipping like that, you find out a lot about everyone," Payton said Monday after stressing that nobody's job was in jeopardy because of the drubbing.
"It's a tough film to watch. I debated about whether we were going to show it or not, but I think we'd be remiss if we didn't.
“We've got to sit in here today and as unpleasant as it's going to be, we've got to get these things cleaned up.”
The man who famously mocked his predecessor for last season overseeing what “might have been one of the worst coaching jobs in the history of the NFL," found himself picking through the debris Monday of one of the worst performances the league has ever seen.
“It was a tough day and today’s not going to be any fun,” Payton said. "And it probably won’t be fun anytime soon until we start winning some games.”
The Broncos allowed 726 yards, giving up 350 yards and five touchdowns on the ground and 376 yards and five touchdowns through the air. No defense in NFL history had ever put up that dubious double.
Broncos guard Quinn Meinerz said it was important for the Broncos to watch the film ahead of the preparation for the Bears this weekend because “obviously Chicago's going to put on that film and try to look at things to get advantages or whatever, to see what Miami did.”
“So, it's one of those film days where you really got to reflect on yourself, take good notes and really focus on the next week of work.”
Payton insisted there will be no hangover.
“You lose that game, and you lose it. It’s worth a loss. Now, you have to pay attention to how poor it was. You can’t ignore that or gloss over that. Then you go from there," Payton said. "We’ll pick ourselves up here this week and get ready to play next weekend.”
Russell Wilson is the least of Payton's problems, even though the coach spent all of last week taking shots at his quarterback.
WHAT NEEDS WORK
Denver's defense. Since the middle of the second quarter against the Commanders in Week 2, the Broncos have allowed 14 touchdowns and a field goal to go with a missed field goal, two possessions where the opponent didn’t try to score and just three stops.
Rookie Marvin Mims Jr.'s 99-yard kickoff return for a touchdown was the sole highlight for Denver on Sunday. The second-round draft pick from Oklahoma had 164 all-purpose yards after gaining 168 all-purpose yards against Washington. That's 332 yards on just 11 touches, or a whopping 30.2 yards per touch.
WR Courtland Sutton. On a day he catches a team-best eight passes for 91 yards and a touchdown, Sutton committed two costly fumbles that led to touchdowns.
The Broncos need Justin Simmons, their All-Pro safety, to get back on the field or they could face more long afternoons such as Sunday's mess in Miami. Making matters worse was the departure of ILB Josey Jewell with a groin injury.
0-3: Payton's record in Denver. Another loss next week at Chicago would tie Vic Fangio in 2019 for the worst start by a first-year Broncos head coach in their history.
The Broncos (0-3) visit the Chicago Bears (0-3) Sunday for a game between two of the NFL's most dysfunctional teams.
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Arnie Stapleton, The Associated Press