Broncos Vance Joseph says no 'excuses' about roster as team in free fall

CENTENNIAL, Colo. -- The Broncos' free fall continues. They own eight straight losses, one shy of the franchise record for a single season, ramping up speculation about coach Vance Joseph's future.

"I am focused on winning football games. I can take it (the criticism)," Joseph said. "My thoughts to the players were, 'We have one quarter to go. We have to finish strong.' It's been hard on the fans, hard on the city, hard on the players. ... We have to improve."

Joseph said there are no excuses, that he and the staff must do better. Problem is, nothing changes. The players receive the message, execute it in practice and unravel on Sundays when the first adversity strikes.

"I wish I could explain it," defensive lineman Zach Kerr said.

Lacking talent, especially offensively, remains a glaring issue. However, it does not explain this team's shortcomings. They are wide-ranging and cringe-worthy. 

Joseph fell back on his default answer for the latest loss -- turnovers compromised the defense, mangled field position and left players pressing to make something happen, leading to mistakes and fundamental breakdowns. It was a mess, starting with Trevor Siemian's three interceptions (he remains the starter) and finishing with a battery of special teams breakdowns that, in part, resulted in Isaiah McKenzie losing his punt return job again.

"Everything came easily for me in college. I have to be better," said McKenzie, who will be replaced by Jordan Taylor the remainder of the season. "I have to secure the ball."

Joseph told the players not to focus on survival. Translation: Don't just show up and punch the clock. It remains an important evaluation period for those staying and going. 

"It's about pride," said safety Justin Simmons, who played slot corner against Miami, showing his versatility. "When it comes down to it, it's just pride. You don't want to go out there and put bad film out there."

The reality is sobering. The Broncos once again are looking to avoid history in a season when they were shut out for the first time since 1992, remain winless on the road (the last time it happened was 1964). Only the 1967 team lost nine in a row. The Broncos' longest skid is 11 straight, but that bridged the 1963 and '64 seasons.

"When you are not successful at your job, they usually make changes," Kerr said. "But you never know what's going to happen. With a situation like this, every organization is different. That's not my job to worry about. It's my job to go out on Sunday and try to win us a game."

Footnotes

Nose tackle Domata Peko no longer has a brace on his sprained left knee. He remains hopeful about playing against the Jets. "It's been a long time since I was hurt. I will be cautious. But if I can go, I will go," Peko said. ... Cornerback Aqib Talib returned to the locker room after his one game suspension. He politely declined to talk to the media, suggesting we interview those players who performed well on Sunday like Simmons and his replacement Bradley Roby. ... The growing likelihood Derek Wolfe lands on the injured reserve continues to increase. The team continues to get evaluations on his neck injury. 


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Want Broncos news? Denver7 Broncos insider Troy E. Renck is your source. He talks to the players, covers the games and reports scoops on Denver7 and the Denver7 app. He is a CU grad who has covered pro sports in Colorado since 1996, including 14 years at The Denver Post. Follow him on Facebook, Twitter and TheDenverChannel.com’s Broncos page. Troy welcomes most of your emails at Troy.Renck@kmgh.com.

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