By Zack Kelberman
(247 SPORTS) – When the Denver Broncos emerge from their bye week, Vance Joseph will still be their coach.
In an appearance on Orange and Blue 760 on Monday, Broncos general manager John Elway revealed he’s not making any major changes “at this point in time.”
“We’re going to stay the course,” Elway said. “There’s enough good things going on as far us and the way that we’re playing that I’m much more encouraged this year than I was last year.”
It was always a longshot that Elway fires Joseph at this point in the year. It would’ve taken a catastrophic loss to the Houston Texans for Denver’s czar to even consider such a drastic measure.
What he got instead was a two-point loss on Sunday, which dropped the Broncos to 3-6. It was a winnable game sabotaged by Joseph, whose bungled clock management proved to be the difference in a hard-fought affair.
“I can sit there and say I can second-guess Vance, but I can also understand his mindset that he didn’t want to make a mistake and have a setback,” Elway said.
The entire NFL world second-guessed Joseph for the way he handled Denver’s final drive. The offense marched into Houston territory and had time to give kicker Brandon McManus an easier game-winning field goal attempt. Instead, they played not to lose, running a dive with Phillip Lindsay that went nowhere. It set up a 51-yarder for McManus, which he pushed right.
“We were in range there and the time was ticking down, so we want to kick it in the middle for B-Mac,” Joseph explained after the game. “Our line was the 35, we were there, so it was time to kick the ball.”
Elway appeared to support Joseph’s rationale, saying a 50-plus-yard field goal with a normally reliable kicker was preferable to risking a sack.
“The last thing we wanted to do is make a mistake and go backward,” he said. “We didn’t want to take any chances and figured with Brandon and the year he’s having him we could trust him at 51.”
Fans were desperately hoping that another Joseph-caused defeat would’ve given Elway enough ammunition to pull the plug. Realistically, though, the embattled coach will likely get the rest of the year before receiving his walking papers. There’s no up-and-coming in-house replacement waiting in the wings, and the Broncos couldn’t hire an outside successor right now even if they wanted to.
Rather than further upsetting the apple cart, a prideful Elway is pocketing the white flag for as long as possible. He continues to count moral victories and ignore the wholesale rebuild that awaits.
“We haven’t the plays that we need to get over the hump,” he said. “I like the heartbeat of this team, the fact that they’re competitors and they continue to work hard.”
As I’ve said again and again, it’s a matter of when — not if — Joseph gets pink-slipped. Elway’s approach is straight out of the GM handbook, which calls for the condemned coach to spout cliches.
“That’s not my focus,” Joseph said of his future. “My focus is our team and getting our team to play weekly. Obviously, we have a month and three weeks left in the season to win some games. That’s not my concern – my future. It’s about the players and coaches and winning football games.”
Everything is right on schedule.