It looked bleak for Vance Joseph after the Denver Broncos were destroyed by the slumping Miami Dolphins, 35-9, on Dec. 3.
The Broncos' head coach was unable to prevent his team from losing its eighth consecutive game, a skid that included four defeats by at least three touchdowns.
After the game, Broncos chief executive officer Joe Ellis stood back in the back of the losing, visiting locker room, appearing distraught as he observed his players' reactions and the mood of the room.
It was rare for Ellis to hang out so long in the locker room after a game, although he was similarly present following the Broncos' 10-6 loss at Kansas City late in the 2010 season.
A day later, Josh McDaniels was fired as the Broncos' head coach.
A similar fate did not await Joseph. Instead, Broncos' general manager John Elway said after the Miami loss he would not make any staff changes until after the season.
The season is now hours away from ending and Elway has yet to declare Joseph is coming back. He hasn't said he's not coming back, either.
After the loss to Miami, Joseph led the Broncos to two consecutive wins, albeit against similarly bottom-dweller teams in the New York Jets and Indianapolis Colts. The Broncos shut out what had been a fairly hot Jets team, 23-0.
Joseph appeared safe after the 25-13 win at Indy, but then the Broncos played poorly last week at Washington and lost, 27-11. It was their eighth defeat by at least 10 points.
There will be changes to the Broncos' coaching staff in the next few days -- sources close to Elway say as many as five assistants will be dismissed. The number could increase if Elway makes a change with his head coach.
The 5-10 Broncos will give playing time to several young, inexperienced players – most notably quarterback Paxton Lynch – in the regular season finale Sunday against the Chiefs. This would seem to be an indication Joseph wouldn't need to win to save his job.
He is one year into a four-year contract. Moving forward, the Broncos will add either a quality free-agent quarterback this offseason, or draft one with their top 10 pick, or both.
Is Joseph, whose expertise is on the defensive side, the right head coach to usher in Denver's new quarterback era?
Elway seemed to be leaning toward keeping Joseph this week. But if we've learned anything since Elway took charge of the Broncos' football operations in 2011 it is that the general manager is unpredictable.