ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — "We're not a team that's just going to roll over to get draft picks, that's not what we do, that's not what the Denver Broncos do."
It doesn't even take an American to know that.
Those are the words of Austrailian-born Adam Gotsis, who talks about the proverbial 'Bronco way' as much as just about anybody. It's something he's talked about since the day he stepped into team headquarters as a bright-eyed second-round pick. Why? Because the Denver Broncos are a globally-recognized organization, known for championship culture. Gotsis has known what the Broncos are about for a long time.
The Denver Broncos can't and won't tank. Heck, they don't even know how to.
"Fans and people here are posting stuff on social media talking about tanking, "Aqib Talib said in a cheery locker room. "Like, how do you tank? We don't even know how to tank."
"I don't even know how you go out there and play for draft picks," Gotsis added. "Like, how does that start? How do you ask professional athletes that are getting paid to go out there to go lay down and tank."
Here's the thing—you don't.
In its purest form, tanking is done far before the season begins. If you want to tank, you better be ready to construct a garbage roster—something the Broncos do not have—because these guys aren't going to quit for the idea of some kid who may be coming in there to take their job anyway.
If you want to tank, you better have a roster that's going to lose even when they give their best. A roster that looks like, say, the Indianapolis Colts.
"We're not thinking about no draft picks," Chris Harris Jr. said.
Two full games after the team had been eliminated from postseason contention, Harris didn't know that fact.
"Are we eliminated from the playoffs?" He asked mid-interview, clearly still feeling like his team might still be able to do some damage.
As you can see, these guys don't look at this stuff the way you and I do. They don't measure everything by draft picks or championships. They're in it for pride, for passion, for their family, for their livelihood. They play for contracts, for All-Pro selections and Hall of Fame honors.
The Denver Broncos weren't ever going to tank. We should have known better than to ever consider otherwise. And while you may be salivating over Josh Rosen, Sam Darnold or somebody else, you should be glad that your team doesn't roll over and die.
Winning—at all times—is important.
"It's really important," said linebacker Shane Ray. "Right now we feel like we're laying down the building blocks. Reconstructing the team. There's nothing we can do about this season at this point but what we can do is start to build on next year with each team that we play. You just see guys collectively rallying to that."
That right there should put a smile on your face, Broncos Country. John Elway has made it very clear that he expects to compete next year and that starts now. It starts with beating bad teams; it starts with finding the right mix, it starts with believing in the head coach.
"We want to turn it around for him, man," Harris said of Vance Joseph.
"All year we've been trying to find a formula to be great with the guys that we have," Ray added. "It's about finding that formula, and we're slowly finding ways to get better as a team, and we just want this to continue to carry over to next year."
Sure, it was the Jets and the Colts, but this stuff matters. It matters because the coach is going to be here next year. It matters because a good portion of these players will be here next year, as well. It matters because the Broncos hit rock bottom and they’re getting a head start on climbing their way back up.
With a second win in five days in their pocket, the Broncos went wild in the locker room. They exploded for Brock Osweiler when he got his well-deserved game ball, they oohed and ahhed at C.J. Anderson's 158 yards, they smiled, they joked they laughed.
They looked like a team again.
If Denver is going to get a top-five pick in April's draft, they're going to have to trade their way into it, and that's quite alright.
"We gotta win out," Gotsis said. "We're building; we're building that momentum... We want to win games, that's what it's about."
The Denver Broncos can't tank, they're too proud, too talented and dammit they're the Denver Broncos. That very fact is more valuable than any draft pick.