ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Exhale, Broncos fans. Vic Fangio is still your coach.
Hey, watch it! Ouch. Cripes. No throwing things!
There have been talks, both before and after the Broncos were run over by the Cleveland Browns on Thursday Night Football, among the grand pooh-bahs, but no drastic changes in light of Denver’s crippling four-game skid that has wiped out an encouraging 3-0 start and then some.
"Yeah, I’ve talked to George (Paton), I’ve talked to John (Elway), I’ve talked to Joe (Ellis)," Fangio said in his day-after-game press conference Friday afternoon. "Yeah, we’ve talked and all very constructive and productive and we all want the same thing. We want to get this team back to winning."
It’s been four weeks since the Broncos whipped the Jets, 26-0, on Sept. 26. That win feels like it was detached from the present season. The Broncos have since lost four straight and they were behind by double digits in all of them. The shutout is erased from the minds from those who have watched the Denver defense get beat by third-string running backs on the ground, and second-string quarterbacks through the air and ground.
"What’s most concerning is our fundamentals are lacking, particularly on the defensive side of the ball," Fangio said. "And when that’s lacking that’s poor coaching on our part. That starts with me."
>>Video above: Broncos lose to Browns: Locked On Broncos
The starts, in particular, have been dumbfounding. The last four opponents – Baltimore, Pittsburgh, Las Vegas and Cleveland – all seemed more inspired, more prepared at kickoff. To the Broncos’ credit, they do not quit when they fall behind early. They have continued to fight and usually make a game of it. But there are no moral victories in the NFL.
Fangio was asked if he made any changes with his coaching staff, whether in job description, or operationally, or in coming up with new ideas on how to inspire.
"We always try to do a better job of inspiring them," he said. "I don’t have a problem with our efforts or our (intensity). We just have to do a better job of coaching these guys to be more fundamentally sound."
That was the overriding theme of Fangio’s press conference – patience, don’t panic by trying new things for the sake of change, stay the course. And eventually improved fundamentals will produce better play. Which is a tough sell to the restless natives who want Fangio and offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur to be delivered pink slips.
"I’m not worried about this coaching staff," Fangio said. "What I’m worried about is this team. And doing anything and everything we can to get our guys coached up to play better."
Injuries, particularly at all four linebacker positions, have forced Fangio to go well down his depth chart to make lineup changes. When a team is in a slump, it can also try to simplify the system.
"Or three, when you have a bunch of guys go down, recreate," Fangio said. "The recreates are usually short-lived with success. We just have to do what we do better."
On to Washington for game 8 next Sunday at Empower Field at Mile High. The one and only primetime game on the Broncos’ schedule is over with and it didn’t end well. If the Broncos don’t beat the team from D.C. with no nickname, the conversation with the pooh-bahs next week may not be so constructive.
Jeudy returns, Albert O might too
One problem during the Broncos’ slide is they have been missing some explosiveness at the skill positions. Jerry Jeudy, who appeared poised to join Courtland Sutton as co-No. 1 receivers as the season commenced, went down after his sixth catch in the season opener with a high ankle sprain. After sitting out the next six games, Jeudy will return to play against Washington next Sunday at Empower Field at Mile High.
"He was medically cleared to play this past game," Fangio said. "He wanted to play. We didn’t think it was prudent to play him with no practice."
Fangio said tight end Albert Okwuegbunam, out with a hamstring he suffered during the Broncos’ loss to Baltimore, will not only practice next week, there is hope he will play against Washington. That would be two much-needed weapons added to Teddy Bridgewater’s offense.
Purcell injures thumb
Starting defensive tackle Mike Purcell played to the last snap Thursday night but after the game it was discovered he had some damage to his thumb. 9News was the first to report of Purcell’s injury that is significant enough to consider surgery. Fangio said Purcell may miss a couple weeks and regardless of whether or not he has surgery, he will be casted up when he does return to play.
The banged-up Broncos players were off Friday and they will get a break through Monday before returning to work Tuesday. …
Fangio said linebacker Micah Kiser, who started in place of the injured Alexander Johnson, will be out a couple weeks after suffering a groin injury early in the game at Cleveland. Kiser may be headed to IR. …
Von Miller is day to day with a sprained ankle, but he said after the game Thursday he would play against Washington. …
The Broncos will hold a Ring of Fame ceremony for quarterback Peyton Manning both pregame next Sunday with the unveiling of his pillar and at halftime of the game against Washington.
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