ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) — Jake Butt won’t be rescuing the Denver Broncos’ faltering offense, at least not this season.
The rookie tight end is headed to injured reserve along with quarterback Chad Kelly, the seventh-round draft pick from Mississippi who is still working his way back from knee and wrist surgeries.
“Chad Kelly came back to practice last week and numbers-wise it doesn’t make sense for our football team” to carry four quarterbacks, coach Vance Joseph said Monday. “We were hoping that Jake could come back and help us at this point, but he’s not ready yet.”
The former Michigan star was a projected first-round pick before tearing his right ACL in the Orange Bowl. He slipped to the fifth round and the Broncos were hoping he’d give them a much-needed boost at the midpoint of the season.
Going on IR “doesn’t mean I’m going to be checked out of these meetings and waiting on next year,” Butt said. “I’m still going to be locked in and trying to learn as much as I can this year. But in terms of the overall health of my knee, yeah, that probably is going to help me long-term just having extra time to rehab and strengthen it and get back to full health.”
Joseph also announced Monday that he’s sticking with Brock Osweiler as his starting quarterback despite his pair of costly interceptions in Denver’s 51-23 flop in Philadelphia on Sunday.
Despite making many mistakes and completing just half of his 38 throws, Osweiler energized the team after taking over for a turnover-prone Trevor Siemian and made several good decisions, such as his audible on his touchdown pass to Demaryius Thomas, Joseph said.
“So, I think Brock deserves one more week to kind of prove that he’s the guy for us,” Joseph said. “Because he had a great week of preparation.”
Joseph isn’t committing to any quarterback beyond Sunday, when the Broncos (3-5) host the Patriots (6-2): “I’m only concerned about the Patriots this week and we’ll see where we are next Monday.”
If Osweiler has another middling performance, Joseph might go back to Siemian or give former first-round draft pick Paxton Lynch a look, although he was quoted by the CBS crew Sunday as saying the ex-Memphis star wasn’t ready physically or mentally to play after getting hurt in the preseason.
Joseph explained Monday that he wasn’t talking about “a lack of football IQ,” but “I was talking more about time on the job. He’s missed so much time. So, to put him in an NFL game in Week 10 wouldn’t be fair to our football team or to Paxton.”
No matter who’s calling the plays, Joseph said the coaching staff has to do a better job preparing them.
Offensive coordinator Mike McCoy has stuck to a steady diet of three-wide receiver sets even though 18 of the 21 sacks and all 10 interceptions over the last six games have come out of that formation.
“Am I satisfied with the play calling” on offense? Joseph said. “I’ve said this after every loss, that we’ve got to coach better. When you lose football games in this league, you have to coach better; you have to play better. It’s a league that’s really built and operated to have equal parts. So, the difference sometimes is the coaching. The difference is the scheme and play calling.
“So, when you don’t win, absolutely you have to coach better. And that starts with me. And I understand that. Because in this league coaching is very important and the better-coached teams win. I’ll leave it at that.”
With five losses in six games, the Broncos are mired in their worst slump since a stretch of nine losses in 10 games that cost coach Josh McDaniels his job in 2010.
After each of their last four defeats, Joseph, a first-time head coach, has mentioned he didn’t see it coming because the team had great weeks of practice and had put together great game plans.
“Well, I’ll tell you this. I told the players this five minutes ago, I said, ‘Guys, we have worked hard and that’s to your credit. We have put some good work in. But you’re judged on Sundays. You’re judged one day a week and that’s the day you have to show up and perform,'” Joseph said.
“So, the practices, it’s been good. But it should be good. We’re NFL players and coaches. We get paid to do this job so we should have good work each week. It has not translated, obviously, in four weeks to wins.”
The silver lining is that Kansas City (5-3) has lost three straight so the Broncos are only two games out of the AFC West lead.
“We have time, but time’s running out,” Joseph said. “So, we’ve got to fix it right now.”
By ARNIE STAPLETON
(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)