By Chad Jensen
(247 SPORTS) – After all the team’s best-laid plans, the Denver Broncos are no better off eight games into the 2018 season than they were last year. On the heels of Denver’s 30-23 loss to Kansas City, the team sits at 3-5.
Despite GM John Elway giving him a second chance, Vance Joseph has been unable to move the needle. He’s a great guy and all — but as a head coach in the National Football League, he’s in over his head.
The writing is on the wall. This week’s road bout vs. the Chiefs was Joseph’s last stand. And it was the Broncos opportunity to stick their foot in the turf, and pivot this season away from ruin.
But Denver couldn’t get it done at Arrowhead, despite being handed a multitude of opportunities to win this game. Much of Denver’s plight can be laid at the feet of quarterback Case Keenum, who turned the ball over twice in the fourth quarter.
Incompetence at the coaching level is the primary culprit, if we’re being honest. Look no further than Joseph’s decision to call timeout on fourth down early in the second quarter with Brandon McManus on deck to attempt a 55-yard field goal.
Opposing coaches use timeouts as a weapon to ‘ice the kicker’ in such situations, but Joseph did it to his own guy. You never see that happen in the NFL — a coach icing his own kicker. McManus missed wide right and four plays later the Chiefs were in the end zone, taking the 10-7 lead.
The Broncos had three plays of 20-plus yards wiped off the board due to penalties. That doesn’t happen to well-coached teams.
This team has the talent. Even Keenum is better than he’s played this year.
A culture change is needed in the Mile High City. And there’s no quick fix to Denver’s woes, much to the frustration of the fanbase.
A new coaching administration is needed but Elway and the team brass are faced with the harsh reality that there are no viable options to replace Joseph in-season. There isn’t a no-brainer option to step in as interim head coach when Joseph is fired.
That doesn’t mean the Broncos won’t fire Joseph, because there are guys who could serve as the interim head coach — like OC Bill Musgrave, OL coach Sean Kugler, DL coach Bill Kollar and even STC Tom McMahon. Heck, when the L.A. Rams fired Jeff Fisher during the 2016 season, they tapped their third phase coordinator John Fassel as interim head coach.
Granted, Fassel only had to keep the seat warm for Sean McVay for less than a quarter of the season, and they lost all three remaining games, but the Rams survived as an organization.