0-3 Bears suddenly an important survival test for Broncos

Sean Payton or Russell Wilson: Who is to blame for the Broncos' struggles? (2:04)

The "Get Up" crew unanimously agrees that the Broncos' struggles this season are down to Sean Payton, not Russell Wilson. (2:04)

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- The 70 points the Denver Broncos surrendered in Week 3’s football disaster in South Florida wasn’t just a loss, it was a historical tattoo of sorts. One that put them on the shortest of lists and made history as the third-highest point total ever allowed in a game.

The Chicago Bears this week -- as well as any of the opponents who remain on the Broncos' schedule -- now have quite the view of what the Broncos' performance can look like.

“Teams are going to watch that and install every play they ran, I’m sure Chicago’s going to watch that and install the first 15 plays -- I would,’’ linebacker Alex Singleton said. “ … We’ve got to stand up and punch somebody back.’’

Miami's 10-touchdown barrage in the 70-20 blowout peeled the curtain back on a Broncos team that has yet to handle adversity well or show consistency on either side of the ball.

Facing the 0-3 Bears in Soldier Field on Sunday will be an enormous opportunity for the Broncos to show if they really have “the grit’’ Broncos coach Sean Payton has said they will all have to show in the weeks ahead.

“You’ve got to work your way out of this,’’ Payton said. “ … Look, [a win] would mean a lot … we need a win."

“[The Dolphins’] loss definitely doesn’t define this team and who we are and what we are trying to accomplish,’’ guard Quinn Meinerz said. “ [The] best thing we can do … is not allow it to happen again.’’

Payton has openly wondered how he, the coaching staff and players would handle the inevitable rough spots when they arrived. It has been a theme in the Broncos locker room during the current playoff drought -- seven years and counting -- of how to somehow rebound and keep losses from piling on top of one another.

Or how to find a way to make a play that stops somebody else’s momentum or creates their own. A rival personnel executive said this past week, after reviewing the Broncos’ loss to the Dolphins, that he couldn’t remember the last time Denver simply made a big-moment play that tipped the scales.

They’ve started 0-4 only four times in the franchise’s history -- 2019, 1999, 1994 and 1964 -- in addition to an 0-3-1 start in 1971. Two of those years were adjacent to momentous shifts in the organization’s path as the team was coming off back-to-back Super Bowl wins as well as Hall of Fame quarterback John Elway’s retirement heading into 1999 and Pat Bowlen hiring Mike Shanahan to be the team’s coach immediately following the 1994 season.

“No. 1, the attention to detail of what we are doing at practice has to improve,’’ Payton said. “ … This is one of those weeks where when you take a butt whooping like that, you find out a lot about everyone.’’

“We’ve got a lot of guys who believe we can dig our way out of the hole,’’ quarterback Russell Wilson said. “ …Everybody wants a perfect story, but it doesn’t make as good of a story if there [are] not some challenges along the way.’’

Defensively, as you would expect after giving up 10 touchdowns to go with 726 yards, the Broncos find themselves last in the league in total defense, scoring defense and rushing defense. They are 31st out of 32 in red zone defense and 29th in pass defense.

But that reeling defense will face a Bears offense that is 29th in yards gained per game, 27th in scoring and 31st in passing yards per game as Bears quarterback Justin Fields is 29th among the league's starters in passing yards and 31st in completion percentage. Safety Justin Simmons, a member of the Broncos’ 2016 draft class who has yet to play in a postseason game with the team, said Wednesday any good news, any good returns on their work would be welcome right now.

“You're fighting, you're scratching, you're clawing,’’ Simmons said. “ … They’re all must-wins every week, we always talk about the 1-0 mindset (each week), but this is a really, really important one for us to get in the win column.’’