Another loss by the Denver Broncos hasn’t cost head coach Vance Joseph his job. General manager John Elway said on a Denver radio station on Monday, “At this point, we’re going to stay the course” with Joseph.
“I think there’s enough good things that are going on as far as us and the way that we’re playing,” Elway added on Orange & Blue 760, a Broncos broadcast partner. “I’m much more encouraged this year than I was last year.”
The 3-6 Broncos, who lost 19-17 to the Houston Texans on Sunday when kicker Brandon McManus missed a 51-yard field goal attempt as time expired, have gone 8-17 during Joseph’s tenure, which included a 5-11 mark in 2017, his first season as head coach. Denver has fared better against tougher competition – including the Los Angeles Rams and twice against the Kansas City Chiefs — in recent weeks, losing four games by seven or fewer points.
“The frustrating part for everybody … we haven’t made the plays we need to get over the hump,” Elway said. “Every game in this league is always competitive, and the teams that win are teams that are able to do it consistently. We have not been able to do it.
“I like the heartbeat of this team, the fact they’re competitors and they continue to work hard. As you know, they’re very, very frustrated because they’ve put in a lot of hard work and they’re not getting paid back for all the work they put in with the win.”
With fans and the media putting Joseph firmly on the hot set, how is he dealing with the pressure as the Broncos head into a bye week before facing the 6-2 Chargers in Los Angeles in Week 11?
“My focus is our team and getting our team to play weekly. … My future – that’s not my concern,” Joseph told reporters at a Monday press conference. It’s about the players and coaches and winning football games.”
Joseph was criticized for mismanaging his team — and the game clock — at the end of the first half and down the stretch Sunday in Denver.
As the clock clicked down in the second quarter and the Broncos trailed 13-10, Joseph decided to let McManus attempt a 62-yard field goal – with 22 seconds remaining.
After the kick went wide right, the Texans needed only two plays to move into position for a 46-yard field goal and a 16-10 lead.
“That’s totally on me; I was chasing points,” Joseph said Monday.
The Broncos’ offense also had time on its side in the game’s final minute to set up McManus again. A 5-yard completion to tight end Jeff Heuerman moved them to the Texans’ 32-yard line with about 40 seconds and a timeout left, but they gave up a yard — and precious seconds — when running back Phillip Lindsay was dropped for a loss on the next play.
The Broncos let the clock wind down before calling a timeout with three seconds left. That attempt went wide right, too.
“(After Heuerman’s catch), yardage-wise, we were good,” Joseph said. “Obviously, with (Houston’s) pass rush, I wasn’t going to drop back again and allow (Jadeveon) Clowney and (Whitney) Mercilus and (J.J.) Watt to hit the quarterback and (get) the ball on the turf and we lose the game. If they make a play, now we’re all idiots, right?
“My thought process was, ‘We have the yardage we need, let’s try and pop a run and get 5 or 6 more yards, kick the field goal and win the game.’ But I wasn’t going to expose our quarterback (Case Keenum) and our O-line to that pass rush one more time and now if they make a play, now we’re all idiots, right?
“It’s easy Monday morning to say that wasn’t right. But I’m very comfortable with that.”