In many ways, this is the worst single-season stretch in Denver franchise history.
And yet, the news from Broncos headquarters Monday was no news.
Which was surprising. What would Red Miller do?
At the very least, the old coach probably would have screamed and hollered and kicked some chairs around. Of course, it was a different era then.
“I didn’t yell,’’ said Broncos’ head coach Vance Joseph. “I told the guys that I’m disappointed of where we are right now because we’ve played good enough football outside of the huge errors to compete. Until we find a way to not spot good teams 14 points, we can’t win. I told them I’m disappointed because that’s my job to figure out a way to play a cleaner brand of football. That comes from gameplan. It comes from game management—all those things. We have to figure out how we can get back into an even game. I’ve said it for the last month, but it hadn’t happened.”
The Broncos will formally induct Miller, their head coach from 1977-80, into the team’s Ring of Fame on Friday night. Miller, who led the Broncos to their first playoff appearance and Super Bowl in the same season of 1977, passed away in September a few weeks shy of his 90th birthday.
His wife Nan will represent him at the ceremonies this weekend.
While this week is for Red, it’s the Broncos’ current head coach who is under the microscope.
This is the Broncos’ 58th season. Never before had they lost as many as five in a row and lost each one by double digits. The scores of the Broncos’ last five defeats: 23-10, 21-0, 29-19, 51-23 and 41-16.
And yet, with the probable exception of pulling rookie Isaiah McKenzie as the team’s punt returner, it appears to be status quo at the UCHealth Training Center.
The two Brock O’s will keep their jobs. Brock Osweiler remains the Broncos’ starting quarterback. As he should. He played well Sunday night.
Brock Olivo remains the special teams coordinator. After the special teams disaster that led directly or indirectly to 24 points in a 41-16 loss to the New England Patriots, that took some explaining.
“I’m in his meetings every day and he’s a detailed guy,’’ Joseph said of Olivo. “He goes over those guys’ assignments over and over again. Lots of energy, he’s a very bright guy and he’s learned a guy who’s the best in the entire league (Kansas City special teams coordinator Dave Toub).
“I watch him work every day and the mistakes that we’ve had, Brock’s responsible and I’m responsible, but he hasn’t muffed a punt. I watch him work with our returners every day before, after and during practice. I work with the returners also, so I know what’s being taught there. I’m not down on Brock. That game yesterday was bad for us as far as the (special) teams.
“We had three errors, well, actually four errors that lead to 24 points, but I’m fine with Brock. Brock works hard, he’s a young coach and he’s a bright coach. He’s going to be a great coach in my opinion.”
Brandon McManus, the Broncos’ fine kicker and special teams captain, also defended Olivo.
“I watch his press conferences when he talks on Friday and he talks about blaming himself,’’ McManus said. “But, there’s a time and point when it’s on the players. And the players have to step up and understand the scheme and understand what we’re trying to do.’’
There is no sense making Olivo a midseason scapegoat when special teams were only the latest unit to go wrong, not the first.
Still, it was not unreasonable to expect a few shakeups this week. This is the Broncos’ 58th season. Never have they lost as many as five in a row, and lost each one by double digits, within the same season.
The losses have been by an average score of 33-14. Call it three touchdowns.
If there were no changes Monday, why should anyone expect anything to be different on Sunday, when the Broncos host Red Miller’s family and the Cincinnati Bengals?
Say this for the Broncos’ current head coach: He is not panicking.
“We understand that we have a good football team,’’ Joseph said. “There is plenty of season left to fix it.’’
Simmons appeal Tuesday
Broncos safety Justin Simmons, who was terrific against the Patriots, will have his appeal hearing Tuesday on the $24,309 fine he received for his unnecessary roughness hit on Kansas City receiver Demarcus Robinson in a game played October 30 at Arrowhead Stadium.
Simmons led with his shoulder on the play but was still penalized 15 yards.
Simmons had the team’s only sack on New England quarterback Tom Brady, tied for a game-high 10 tackles and was the only Broncos’ player to play all 70 defensive snaps.
Joseph said tight end A.J. Derby has a sore shoulder and linebacker Todd Davis aggravated his high ankle sprain Sunday night, but neither injury was considered serious.
Joseph added Donald Stephenson should practice in full this week after the offensive tackle was sidelined the previous four weeks with a strained calf.