Vance Joseph can survive the losses.
It’s the embarrassment that could get Joseph fired as coach of the Broncos.
“You have to win, not just compete,” Joseph said Thursday.
Win? Joseph stinks at winning. What’s worse is how badly his Broncos get beaten.
No team in the NFL has been embarrassed more often in 2017 than Denver Yes, San Francisco (2-10), the New York Giants (2-10) and Cleveland (0-12) have suffered more defeats than the Broncos (3-9).
None of the league’s worst teams, however, has been less competitive in defeat than the Broncos, who have been so hard to watch that sweeping out the garage has become a more rewarding activity on any given Sunday afternoon.
Is that a bold statement? Not really. Let’s quantify noncompetitive as a loss of at least 10 points.
Joseph has allowed Denver to be crushed seven times by double-digit losses. That’s tied for worst in the 32-team league with Cleveland, which has also lost seven games by at least 10 points.
As architect of the Denver roster, general manager John Elway deserves his share of blame for what could well be the worst Broncos team since they joined the NFL in 1970. The revolving door of lousy quarterbacks has done Joseph no favors.
But Elway hates to lose. So when he gave a sorry-state-of-the-team address to a local radio station, these are the words that stuck with me.
“This has been a tough year,” Elway told Orange and Blue 760. “It’s not what the Broncos are about. I’m embarrassed about it. …”
It’s never a smart idea to embarrass Mr. Elway on the football field.
After the Broncos were routed 35-9 by Miami, I coined a term for this embarrassment. Denver is getting Josephed.
On an all-too-regular basis, the game plan doesn’t seem to fit his team’s personnel. Firing offensive coordinator Mike McCoy gave the Broncos a scapegoat but has not improved the team’s ability to score points. The video of special teams has become a football blooper reel played on an endless loop.
In the NFL, it’s all about the scoreboard, baby. And no coach, from embattled Chuck Pagano of the Colts to beleaguered Hue Jackson in Cleveland, has looked worse on the scoreboard more often this season than Joseph.
As we enter Week 14 of the regular-season schedule, only six teams have already lost nine times. Every loser has an excuse. But, in the NFL, you are what your record says you are. And nobody gets blown out more consistently than Denver. Here is the average margin of defeat for the worst six teams in the league.
Broncos: 15.9 points.
Colts: 15.2 points.
49ers: 12.7 points.
Giants: 11.8 points
Bears: 11.0 points
Browns: 10.9 points.
That’s embarrassing for Elway, Joseph and everybody in Broncos Country.
Losing big is hazardous to a coach’s job security. The Giants have already fired Ben McAdoo. Our old friend John Fox is presumed gone in Chicago. Despite the support of his owner, Jackson might not survive another year as coach of the Browns. Although Pagano has never before endured a losing season since taking over the Colts in 2012, the absence of injured quarterback Andrew Luck might not save him as Indy languishes in last place.
Take Our Poll
Only Kyle Shanahan, who took a job with San Francisco when Elway hired Joseph, is presumed to be on solid ground at the bottom of the standings.
This awful eight-game losing streak, the worst endured by the Broncos since 1967, has to end sometime, doesn’t it? But maybe this is a measure of how far the team has fallen since winning Super Bowl 50 less than two years ago. The New York Jets, nobody’s idea of a juggernaut, are coming to town. And it’s viewed by Las Vegas oddsmakers as a dead-even game.
“We want to win these football games, and everyone’s engaged today to win a football game, not to just compete,” Joseph said. “It’s the NFL. You have one result on Sunday, and that’s to win or lose. That’s our goal Sunday, to win.”
It’s not so much how many games Joseph has lost, but how his teams have lost that puts him on the hot seat after only a dozen games as Denver’s coach.
If he wants to remain employed in Broncos Country, Joseph can no longer afford to lose big.