Off to an 0-3 start for the first time in 20 seasons, the Denver Broncos aren't exactly partying like it's 1999.
Still, the Broncos aren't panicking entering Sunday's matchup against the visiting Jacksonville Jaguars, either, knowing they need to eliminate mistakes and channel some consistency to get into the win column.
"Even though we're 0-3, we don't have that end-of-the-world feeling," Denver cornerback Chris Harris said.
The Broncos will entertain a team that has experienced its own early-season struggles. The Jaguars (1-2) are coming off their first victory of the season and will have the benefit of extra rest after defeating the Tennessee Titans 20-7 last Thursday.
Denver lost 27-16 at the Green Bay Packers on Sunday, struggling to recover after falling behind 24-10 in the third quarter at Lambeau Field.
Deficits have become familiar to the Broncos, who have led for a mere 11:41 of 180 minutes played in 2019, a 4.9 percent rate. Denver has trailed for 140:45.
"When you're 3-0, you're under a magnifying glass," receiver Emmanuel Sanders said. "When you're 0-3, you're under an even bigger magnifying glass because everybody is looking to point their finger at certain plays that could determine the outcome of the game."
That includes plays that go unmade, especially in the early going. The Broncos have scored just 13 first-half points in three games. Their offense ranks 14th in the NFL in rushing at 111.3 yards per game and is 16th on third down, converting at a 40.5 percent rate.
"When you're playing with a lead, everybody is a little more relaxed," Sanders said. "When you're playing from behind, you don't want to say it, but you do play a little tight because you know if you don't score and give the ball back, it could be a two-possession game."
Jacksonville's defense dealt with the ongoing drama surrounding Pro Bowl cornerback Jalen Ramsey's recent trade request to stifle the Titans. Defensive end Calais Campbell led the way, collecting seven solo tackles -- including three sacks and an additional tackle for loss -- to earn AFC Defensive Player of the Week honors.
Ramsey, who missed practice Monday due to illness, did not practice Wednesday because of a back injury and then left the team for the birth of his daughter in Nashville, Tenn. The team issued a statement Wednesday evening saying Ramsey's departure had been planned beforehand with head coach Doug Marrone, and that Ramsey would return to the team "when he's ready."
D.J. Alexander missed practice with a hamstring injury, while fellow linebacker Myles Jack remains in the concussion protocol but practiced in full Wednesday.
Offensively, the Jaguars rank 16th in the NFL with 243 passing yards per game, buoyed by rookie quarterback Gardner Minshew, who has filled in capably after Jacksonville lost Nick Foles to a broken collarbone in Week 1. Minshew is 65-for-88 passing, a 73.9 percent completion rate, for 692 yards, five touchdowns and one interception.
The Jaguars will hope to revive their rushing attack in Denver. The team ranks 23rd in the league with 90.7 yards per game on the ground. Marrone this week challenged the offensive line to improve its play in front of running back Leonard Fournette, whose 14 carries on Thursday other than a 69-yarder went for a combined minus-3 yards.
"I'd be the first one to say Leonard has to do a better job, but we're not giving him a chance," Marrone said. "We're not doing a good enough job up front. I have not issues with how Leonard's working and trying. I think he may be trying too much because of the frustration.
"I think that he has the ability to be a great player. I look at the leverage stuff, what we're doing, and we've got to get this thing going."
Denver's Wednesday practice inactives included cornerback Kareem Jackson (hamstring), linebacker Josey Jewell (hamstring), defensive end Derek Wolfe (ankle) and cornerback Bryce Callahan, who had a non-surgical procedure on his troublesome foot and will miss 4-6 weeks.
--Field Level Media