The Broncos haven't just lost five games in a row. They've been non-competitive in each of their five consecutive losses.
They’ve lost by 13, 21, 10, 28 and 25 points. An average margin of 19.4 points during the skid. Worse, the Broncos have been beaten from the jump in all five losses. They have been outscored 55-9 in the first quarter during those five games.
When a team loses, doesn’t compete in defeat - then blame starts with the head coach. To Vance Joseph’s credit, he has not been dismissive, testy or defensive in the face of criticism.
“I get it,’’ he said Thursday. “I feel the same way the fans feel and the outside people feel. I’m disappointed in how it’s gone. We started 3-1 and it was going pretty well. We had a bye and we had a game we should of won [against the then 0-5 New York Giants] and we didn’t win it, and we haven’t won since.
“I’m disappointed, so I get it. It’s a hard job and my only goal is to win football games, so I get the criticism and I don’t mind it. It’s well-deserved if you’re not winning football games.
“With that being said, we have seven weeks left and at the end we’re all going to be judged for what we’ve done during the season. Right now, we have seven weeks to go, so we’ll see.”
The upcoming schedule gives the Broncos hope of getting their team right again. They face the 3-6 Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday, then 4-5 Oakland, 4-5 Miami, the 4-6 New York Jets, 3-7 Indianapolis and 4-5 Washington before finishing up with 6-3 Kansas City.
The Broncos before the losing streak would have been capable of winning four or five of those games. The Broncos of the past five games might not win any.
Brock back throwing
After not throwing during practice Wednesday because of a right shoulder/chest bruise, Brock Osweiler zipped the ball around well Thursday. He will start his third game of the season Sunday against the Bengals.
Paxton Lynch again worked with the No. 2 offense. Trevor Siemian is No. 3. Ordinarily, the No. 3 quarterback doesn’t dress but Joseph indicated he might dress all three quarterbacks Sunday.
Broncos work out punter Jeff Locke
It used to be standard operating procedure. When the Broncos were facing a left-footed punter, they would bring in a free-agent left-footed punter officially for a workout, but unofficially so the team’s punt returners could get acclimated to catching a ball with left-footed spin.
This year the Broncos had not been bringing in lefty punters, instead reversing the spin on their JUGS machine to work against upcoming lefty punters.
But after returner Isaiah McKenzie whiffed on a punt by New England’s left-footed Ryan Allen on Sunday night, and with the Bengals’ left-footed Kevin Huber up next, the Broncos brought in former Minnesota Viking and Detroit Lion left-footed punter Jeff Locke for a post-practice workout Thursday.
Locke punted to Broncos’ punt returners Jordan Taylor, McKenzie and Emmanuel Sanders following practice.
Taylor will be the Broncos’ punt returner this week.
“He was punting ‘em pretty good,’’ Taylor said. “It was good to see them off a live leg. It’s just not the same off the JUGS.’’
Traylor on call
Tight ends Jeff Heuerman (knee) and A.J. Derby (shoulder) again missed practice Thursday. That leaves only Virgil Green as the only Broncos’ tight end healthy enough to practice.
With the game Sunday, the Broncos are preparing practice-squad tight end Austin Traylor to get ready to play the Bengals.
“Very possible,’’ Joseph said.
Traylor was undrafted out of Wisconsin last year. He was on practice squads for five teams last year, including the Broncos and has been on Denver’s practice squad through the first 10 weeks this year.
At 6-foot-3, 255 pounds, he has the skills to both block in the run game and catch the ball in the pass game.
Special teams newcomers
A little more speed would help Broncos’ special teams coordinator Brock Olivo. The Broncos are planning to play both Joseph Jones and Deiontrez Mount against the Bengals.
More speed could help Olivo better scheme.
“Brock is a good coach and he’s a detailed coach,’’ Joseph said. “If you watch the guy coach, you would wonder why we’ve had some issues because every detail is being covered. He’s a great teacher, so the week hasn’t changed with Brock."
"I’m in every meeting, we gameplan together and we put our best gameplan together for that opponent. He’s very detailed and we should play to that detail on Sunday.”