The Denver Broncos returned to practice on Monday at the UCHealth Training Center. As they prepare for Sunday’s game against the Tennessee Titans, the message is clear: winning games is the only thing that matters as they embrace a new slate in the second half.

Denver Broncos gearing up for a tough second-half stretch

The Broncos are gearing up for a demanding second-half schedule that prepares them to run the gauntlet against the Tennessee Titans, Kansas City Chiefs, Baltimore Ravens, Los Angeles Chargers, Los Angeles Rams, Arizona Cardinals, Carolina Panthers, and Las Vegas Raiders.

Players and coaches pushed the pause button on football during the bye week to reset for the second half of the season. As players returned to the practice facility on Monday, there was a renewed sense of eagerness as the coaching staff and players look ahead.

“It’s a new season—nine games,” Hackett said on Monday. “Everything is ahead of us. In this league, to be able to get to where you want to go, you have to win a bunch of games in a row, whether it’s in the beginning or whether it’s in the end. To put yourself in a position to get to the playoffs, you have to win, and you have to win a bunch of them. We have nine games available to us. I think it’s about what can you do individually to make yourself better to get us those one or two plays? We’ve been in so many games. It was a great start in this past game versus Jacksonville. We had a couple opportunities, guys made some big plays, and we need to build off that on offense, defense, and special teams. I think it’s about what we can do as an individual, then as a unit and as a team. We have nine games left. It’s a] big season and a long season ahead.”

Collectively, it will take every player on the roster and every member of the coaching staff to help turn things around. Actions speak louder than words and that’s what Broncos fans are holding Denver to for the remainder of the season.

Offensively, being more consistent on first down will help them be more efficient on third down where they have only converted 33 of 113 attempts, which equates to a league-low 29.2%. Defensively, the Broncos will have to be much more consistent against the run which will be tested this Sunday against the Tennessee Titans and Derrick Henry.

Broncos team captain Justin Simmons also shared how important everybody’s role on the team will be during this upcoming nine-game stretch.

“You always say it every week, especially with injuries, but it definitely hits home once you kind of get a breather,” Simmons said on Monday. “You tell the guys—you tell them before the season starts—we’re going to need everybody in this room at some point. Once you kind of get to the halfway point of the season, in some way, shape, form, or fashion, that always plays itself into fruition. A lot of the guys understand that now. You can see the accountability factor kind of kick in. I think you know you’re doing great, at least in your room, when guys are buying in and there’s not much you have to say or have to do to motivate guys. They understand what’s in front of them, they understand the opportunity, and you are kind of taking it full grasp. From a leadership standpoint, all I want is for us to win. I don’t care what that looks like, I don’t care how it happens. We just have to find ways to rally together as a team. Like I said, all I can control is when we’re out there on defense. We can’t buy into this, ‘You’re playing good enough, you’re doing this, you’re doing that.’ Even the games we played well enough to win; we didn’t win. We part of the problem of not winning those games because it’s a team game. That’s what I’m focused on and that’s what I think as a collective group everyone’s locked in about. It’s going to be a great push to close out the second half of the season.”

The room for error for Denver is very minimal as they embark on this second-half stretch.

Cody Roark is Mile High Sports lead reporter covering the Denver Broncos — Cody covers every practice, every home and away game plus community events related to the organization. He also co-hosts The Afternoon Drive with Aniello Piro on Mile High Sports Radio and is the host of the Locked On Broncos podcast. You can follow Cody on Twitter and Instagram @CodyRoarkNFL.