MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. — This is the saddest Broncos team in their 47-year NFL history. But know what’s even sadder?
Vance Joseph will be the last to know what a stinky mess he has made for the next head coach of this franchise to clean up.
The Denver Softies went to the beach. And they got sand kicked in their faces by our old friend Adam Gase, who tried to run up the 35-9 final score with an onside kick. How does a Denver roster less than two seasons removed from a Super Bowl championship get embarrassed by the Dolphins, which had lost five straight games? Well, we now have a word for it.
Denver got Josephed.
Two safeties allowed in a single game? The Broncos can oblige, no problem. Surrendering a blocked punt? That’s become a Denver specialty, and special-teams coordinator Brock Olivo should have been required to hitchhike back to Colorado. An overall strategy that’s less coherent than doodles on a cocktail napkin? Hey, it’s what Joseph does best.
So I asked Joseph this point-blank question: Do the Broncos lack the talent to win at the NFL level, or have Denver players not responded to his coaching?
“That’s a good question … I can’t speak to our talent. That’s an offseason question. We can’t fix that now,” said Joseph, avoiding an examination of his own failures.
So should we push the blame to players losing one-on-one battles between the lines of a football field?
“Absolutely not,” Denver linebacker Brandon Marshall insisted. “We definitely have talent on the team. You look at the Denver Broncos on paper, I think you would say at every position they have guys. It’s not like we’re lacking in the receiving corps, DBs or at linebacker …”
Then it brings us a full 360 degrees, in a vicious circle, back to the inevitable conclusion that this mess must be the result of lousy coaching by Joseph.
How to stop this eight-game losing streak? Beats him. Ask Joseph how his team got penalized for delay of game prior to a kickoff against the Dolphins, and he’s oblivious to the fact it even happened. And maybe this is the saddest thing of all: Lose in the same embarrassing fashion on his home field against the New York Jets next Sunday and the wrath of Broncos Country will be beyond Joseph’s wildest imagination.
The Broncos have not won since they kissed their season bye-bye during the bye week in October. Embrace the tank. Stink for Sam. Jake it for Josh. Lose out, finish with a lucky 13 defeats and Denver could obtain the No. 3 overall pick in the 2018 NFL draft, maybe giving them a shot at Sam Darnold of Southern Cal or UCLA’s Josh Rosen as their next great quarterback project.
With heartfelt apologies to Paxton Lynch, this Denver offense is so bad it can make anybody cry … with the possible exception of fired offensive coordinator Mike McCoy, who should be laughing himself silly, because the issues clearly run deeper than the play-calling.
Lynch gave one of the worst performances in team history a week ago in Oakland, before retiring to the bench during the third quarter with a sprained ankle and a 38.4 quarterback rating, a grade-F failure. Well, Trevor Siemian was even worse against the Dolphins, chucking three interceptions for a QB rating of 30.5.
Embrace the tank. Let the pity party begin.
“Everything is going wrong for us,” Broncos linebacker Von Miller said.
The sellout streak for home games dates back to when Denver joined the NFL in 1970, and even Joseph can’t squeeze the air out of our mile-high passion for football. As I’ve also learned over the years, it’s above my pay grade or authority to organize a boycott by angry fans.
But here’s what I do know.
Joe Ellis, the franchise’s chief executive officer, leaned against a counter in the visiting locker room for several long minutes after the putrid loss to Miami, absorbing the vibe of a team that has lost its mojo.
“Oh, I was ballin’,” said Sanders, with self-deprecating sarcasm. “Two catches. For about 8 yards.”
Gallows humor. I don’t know where laughing through the pain stands in the five stages of grief, but that’s what it has come to for your Denver Softies.
If 10,000 ticket-buyers are so disgruntled they turn up their noses on these fetid Broncos and refuse to show up for the next home game, Ellis will also see all those empty seats in a stadium without a title sponsor. You know a company interested in investing millions of dollars to put its name on this stinky mess?
If die-hard Broncos fans want Joseph to leave town, then their decision on whether to attend any more home games should be an easy one.