ENGLEWOOD, CO — The Denver Broncos defense has gotten off to one of the worst overall starts in NFL history. As the team prepares for Sunday’s game against the Green Bay Packers, the focus is on gradual improvement.

Denver Broncos defense looking to build momentum

Despite a very rough start to the season, including a 70-point allowance in a 50-point loss to the Miami Dolphins, the Broncos’ defense is taking positive steps forward.

They can’t change what has happened, but what they do going forward can help them take the necessary strides forward. After holding the Kansas City Chiefs and Patrick Mahomes to one total offensive touchdown last week, the Broncos’ defense has found solace in simplifying their approach.

“[DC Vance Joseph] has simplified the calls some to make us fly around,” Broncos cornerback Patrick Surtain stated this week. “Being in the right positions at the right time and making plays. When you know what you’re doing on the defensive side of the ball, that’s what helps guys fly around and be more confident, I think shortening up the play calls a little bit helped a lot.”

Broncos defense getting back to basics

To expand on that, the Broncos’ defense schematically began to look like they did in phases of last season against the New York Jets, minus the struggles in the run department. Surtain saw himself shadowing Garrett Wilson primarily. Against the Chiefs, Surtain moved around a little bit more and saw some coverage on Travis Kelce on the outside and in the slot.

“It was during the Jets where we simplified some things,” Surtain said. “Going into the Chiefs we didn’t try to do anything too dynamic. [Joseph] allowed us to play and be where our feet are and work towards our strengths, and we played well.”

Denver held Kansas City to 4-of-13 (30%) on 3rd downs last week and forced them to settle for field goals while generating one takeaway against Mahomes.

On top of that, the Broncos’ red zone defense has drastically improved over the course of the last 12 quarters of play, going from 31st and jumping to 19th overall.

“That felt good because of our improvement, but winning is the ultimate goal,” Vance Joseph said on Thursday. “Not winning the football game is still disappointing for us. It’s not where I want it to be, defensively, anyway. In my mind, we could do a lot better. We’ve given away too many plays the last two weeks. It’s just us. The communication, we’re not doing our job—not being exact in doing our job. My standard is a little bit higher now. It was better Thursday, but we could play cleaner and better in my opinion.”

Denver has to find a way to generate takeaways against Jordan Love, Green Bay

Generating takeaways has been a consistent issue over the course of the last several years for the Broncos defensively. Entering Sunday’s game against the Packers, Denver has six takeaways on the year, ranking tied for 20th.

Jordan Love and the Packers offense have had some turnovers, but not at the rate of various teams around the NFL. Coming into Sunday’s game, the Packers offense has turned the ball over six times, ranking seventh in the league.

“I see a young quarterback with talent,” Joseph said of Love. “Obviously, this league is full of young quarterbacks who haven’t enough time to get to the point where they want to be. He’s a guy that has legs. He can throw the football and he can make off-schedule plays that are scary for you. They have a bunch of explosive plays on tape and a bunch of long DPIs. He can buy time and throw the ball 70 yards in the air. [It’s about] containing this young quarterback and making it hard pre-snap on him to look through layers of coverage and make decisions. Most of all, contain his legs because if he gets out of the pocket, it could be a problem for us.”

Leading the way for Denver, safety Kareem Jackson has two interceptions on the season, while Justin Simmons and Patrick Surtain each have interceptions as well. The other takeaways were Nik Bonitto’s strip-sack against Justin Fields and the Chicago Bears and another recovered fumble.

If the Broncos hope to win on Sunday, they’ll have to force Love to hold onto the football longer than anticipated, but pressure has to get home. With outside linebacker Baron Browning on track to make his season debut on Sunday, the Broncos defense should benefit with another talented pass rusher getting involved.

Can Denver Broncos run defense adjust to a scheme that’s given them problem?

The Bill Walsh, Mike Shanahan outside zone scheme has become a dominant fixture of today’s NFL. The Broncos have faced a similar scheme design twice already this season against the Miami Dolphins and New York Jets.

Packers head coach Matt LaFleur is aiming for his team to become more consistent in all three phases this week as Green Bya comes out of a bye week.

“Just a lot of inconsistent play,” LaFleur said on what he’s seen from his Packers team so far this season. “There’s certain things as a play-caller that you are disappointed with yourself in terms of putting guys in certain situations. It’s just been very choppy; we haven’t been able to get into a consistent rhythm. The early down execution has put us into some get-back-on-track situations and that’s really where we’ve struggled. We’ve had a ton of third and longs, which it’s hard to have success in this league if you’re living in third and 10 plus.”

Green Bay’s offense ranks 28th overall in terms of net yards per game, averaging 281.6. They’re solid in points per game (22.6), near the bottom in the rushing offense (81.6 yards per game), and are on par with Denver’s offense in passing yards per game (200).

LaFleur has likely referenced the Broncos games against the Jets and Dolphins for ideas on what worked to help get his rushing attack going with Aaron Jones and A.J. Dillon. Jones has dealt with some bumps and bruises this season, which has led to Dillon emerging as the team’s leading rusher so far this season.

How the Denver Broncos defense attacks or adjusts against LaFleur’s scheme on Sunday will be a key point to watch for.

Broncos practice report from Thursday

Following Thursday’s practice, the Denver Broncos released their practice report ahead of Sunday’s game.

Once again, tight end Greg Dulcich (hamstring) did not participate.

For the second consecutive day, outside linebacker Baron Browning (knee), defensive tackle D.J. Jones (knee), and center Lloyd Cushenberry were listed as full participants in Thursday’s practice.

Safety Justin Simmons (hip) was limited while Kareem Jackson (neck) upgraded to a full participant.

With Denver getting healthy defensively, it further emphasizes the importance of capitalizing on being more consistent as the season continues.