Fangio stands strong in face of Denver’s dismal start

<p>
              Denver Broncos quarterback Joe Flacco, right, is sacked by Green Bay Packers linebacker Rashan Gary during the second half of an NFL football game Sunday, Sept. 22, 2019, in Green Bay, Wis. (AP Photo/Matt Ludtke)
            </p>

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) — Emmanuel Sanders, one of eight players on Denver’s roster who remember what winning a Super Bowl felt like, declared after the team’s latest loss that the Broncos are “living in a world of suck.”

No wins.

No sacks.

No breaks.

No takeaways.

No deep throws.

No easy answers.

But no panicking, either.

“He was just repeating what I had said in the locker room after the game,” Fangio said Monday. “I told them, ‘We’re going to have to deal with everybody thinking we suck.’ And (it’s) all of us, not just players coaches, everybody, the whole organization.”

The Broncos won’t deal with that by taking chances or by making changes, said Fangio, the first head coach in the franchise’s 60-year history to start 0-3.

“We’ve just got to stick through it and get through the hard times,” Fangio said.

He said the “easiest thing to do is just make wholesale changes, whether its personnel, scheme, this, that and the other thing. There’s the old saying, ‘Keep doing the same thing and expect different results, that’s not smart.’ But there’s also a saying, ‘Change for just change’s sake isn’t very smart, either,” Fangio said.

He acknowledged that staying the course is a harder sell without the reinforcement of results.

“I think you just show them the video evidence of why you feel that way,” Fangio said.

One thing he’s certain of is the Broncos, who host Jacksonville next weekend, have the talent to turn it around quickly.

“We just have to play a little bit better,” Fangio said. “And along with that, we have to coach better.”

WHAT’S WORKING

Second-year WR Courtland Sutton, whose 52-yard catch was the gemstone of his five-catch, 87-yard day, also had a key downfield block that helped RB Phillip Lindsay cap a 36-yard catch-and-run that set up a TD.

Despite Denver’s defense not getting any inside push to collapse the pocket, OLB Bradley Chubb had three tackles for loss and the lone hit on Aaron Rodgers in the Broncos’ 27-16 loss at Green Bay.

WHAT NEEDS HELP

The pairing of Fangio and Miller was expected to make history, but not this kind: Since 1982, when sacks became an official statistic, the Broncos are the only team to go this deep into a season without a sack or a takeaway.

“I’ve got to find a way to play better,” Miller said. “I have to find a way to get sacks and do my job.”

Although Miller dropped into coverage about a half-dozen times, including the game’s first snap, Fangio tried to dispel growing speculation that his scheme and his superstar linebacker just aren’t a good fit.

“I don’t think that’s correct because he’s playing basically the same way he’s played his whole career,” Fangio said.

Not helping matters is Denver’s plodding offense with QB Joe Flacco (six sacks, two turnovers on Sunday) holding onto the ball far too long. The Broncos never led Sunday and they’ve have only had the lead for 12 of 180 minutes so far.

STOCK UP

LT Garett Bolles didn’t get flagged after collecting four penalties the week before, but the real hero of the O-line was rookie LG Dalton Risner, who put his pig-wrestling skills he honed while growing up on a Colorado farm to good use on fourth-and-goal when he grabbed Lindsay and spun him into the end zone .

STOCK DOWN

Sanders had just two catches for 10 yards a week after posting 11 receptions for 98 yards against Chicago. Fangio said Sanders’ holding penalty that negated Royce Freeman’s touchdown wasn’t ticky-tack.

“No, he held him,” Fangio said.

INJURED

DE Derek Wolfe (high ankle sprain) and LB Josey Jewell (hamstring) went for MRIs Monday. Fangio said FB Andy Janovich (pectoral) is getting closer to returning but wasn’t as optimistic about CB Bryce Callahan (foot).

KEY NUMBER

8.

That’s how many sacks NFL leader Shaquil Barrett has for the Buccaneers after bolting the Broncos for a one-year, $4 million deal last spring, by far the biggest bargain in free agency.

NEXT STEPS

Baby steps, starting with the Jaguars (1-2) and rookie QB sensation Gardner Minshew , who will try to extend Denver’s losing streak to eight games, which would tie for the third longest in team history.

“We’ve just got to figure out a way to go out and play our best, cleanest game this week,” Fangio said.