Griffin praises defensive mindset
The coach's head was supposedly on the chopping block, there were noises that the five-eighth wanted to walk and their final pre-season hit-out was a 44-point hiding at the hands of the team that finished one point ahead of them on the 2013 competition table.
Yet somehow in the space of a fortnight the Broncos have found a defensive resolve missing for much of last season to be undefeated after two rounds with a determination to defend their line that has conceded just 12 points in both games to date.
They're hardly the thrill-a-minute Broncos of the club's halcyon days but they're winning, and that's all the success-starved city has been craving for the past two seasons.
The Broncos conceded an average of 19.9 points per game throughout the 2013 season and while Griffin insists there wasn't a particular focus on rectifying that statistic, he is quietly delighted at the commitment his players are showing to each other.
"We're hanging in there, only letting 12 in every week, and that's what's getting us home at the moment," Griffin said after the Broncos' 16-12 win over North Queensland.
"Everyone's playing for each other and that's coming out in our defence at the moment. Obviously not in our attack at times...
"We had a bit of an air-swing over in New Zealand with that [trial] but we work hard on our defensive game and if you're going to play at this level you've got to be able to do that. But it's not something that we've drilled down and said, 'This is who we're going to be,' it's just the way it's turning out at the moment."
In their 16-12 defeat of the Cowobys on Friday night, the Brisbane defensive line was only breached by a rampant James Tamou laying on a try for Johnathan Thurston and a Gavin Cooper four-pointer from a cross-field kick that threatened to be the match-winner until Andrew McCullough's clincher five minutes from full-time.
It's a far cry from the two trial games that produced a combined scoreline of 80-12 and captain Corey Parker believes they are displaying exactly the type of attitude required to win games early in the season.
"I think it's just a commitment between the group," Parker said of their new-found resolve. "To win footy games you've got to be the best defensive side.
"Early in the year you're not going to be at your best but if you can turn up defensively, that is going to help a fair bit to winning some footy games.
"With any game of football, win lose or draw, if you can walk off and be able to look your mate in the eye and know that you've worked hard for each other, there's some satisfaction in that. Tonight, the fortunate thing was we did that and we got the win, so that was pleasing."
Griffin joked at the club's season launch three weeks ago that when he told his daughter that the start of the season didn't make him nervous her response was, 'You should be.' But perhaps as critics repeatedly quoted 2013 as the worst in the history of the club, the coach saw something in the way the season finished that gave him cause to believe 2014 was going to be better.
"Even though we didn't make the playoffs I thought last year we finished quite well," he said. "As a football team we had some good wins and we had a good off-season, we got a lot of our key people fit and on the field earlier in the year.
"We've still got a few to come back in [Corey] Oates and [Justin] Hodges and people like that but we're wanting to win football games and not thinking it's anything other than what it is. We've worked hard for two wins and we went into the season confident that we were going to be competitive and able to hold our hands up."