Woody Paige: Let Vance Joseph, other coaches sit through Broncos' end-of-season misery

"Their punishment...they must stay & see it out."

Don’t fire Vance Joseph now.

I’m pleading with you, John Elway.

Weeks ago I wrote on thedenverchannel.com that Joseph’s initials needed to be reversed to JV because he was qualified only to be the head coach of a Junior Varsity team.

I unequivocally declared that the nice man, the “leader of men,” the man in over his head, should be fired by the Broncos immediately.

Since then, everyone else in the press and the public has picked up on the theme of “Joe Must Go.”

But we all are wrong.

Joseph has to be kept in place the rest of the season to give the Broncos the best opportunity to start over.

And Brock Olivo, Bill Musgrave and Joe Woods can’t be dismissed, either.

Their punishment for this debacle of a disaster of a devastation is they must stay and see it out. And if they do, the Broncos could lose all four remaining games and end up 3-13 – which would give the franchise a draft pick in the top four behind the Browns, the 49ers and the Giants. It’s even possible that the 49ers, who beat the Bears on Sunday, might win a couple of games, and the Giants, who fired their coach on Monday, might slip up and win.

And the Broncos might even get the No. 2 overall selection.  Last time that happened in 2011, the Broncos were able to choose Von Miller, arguably the best player in that draft. Von was the MVP of Super Bowl 50 because of his play against Cam Newton, the first pick that year.

After the last humiliating loss to the Dolphins, a game in which the Broncos – who two years ago were a Rocky Mountain High – reached an Atlantic Ocean Low, it would be an appropriate juncture to recommend again that Elway dump Joseph before he could do any more damage – a defeat at home to the Jets and another shellacking in Indianapolis for an all-time Broncos’ worst 10-game losing streak.

I intended to remind everyone that Josh McDaniels had been fired in 2010 with four games left.

The coach who replaced him then is still on the staff now. In fact, Eric Studesville was named this season the assistant head coach, in addition to his running back duties.

Eric is the longest-standing coach on the Broncos’ staff. He joined the Broncos in 2010 and has survived McDaniels, John Fox and Gary Kubiak, and will survive Joseph. He has been an NFL assistant in Denver, Buffalo, New York (Giants) and Chicago since 1997. Studesville was a quality control coach with the Bears and has been a quality coach in the league since the year the Broncos won their first Super Bowl.

In those final four games of 2010, the previous catastrophic season the Broncos suffered through, Studesville settled down the defensive assistants, who genuinely despised McDaniels, and the veteran players, and he also replaced incompetent quarterback Kyle Orton with Tim Tebow for the last three games. The Broncos were blown out in Arizona in Orton’s final start, but played admirably in a defeat at Oakland before bowing. Studesville and Tebow led the Broncos to a victory at home over the Texans and coach Gary Kubiak, and barely fell in the finale against the Chargers, 33-28,

Studesville was the right man for the moment.  He’d be the right man for this moment to solve the differences and disconnect between the head coach and his players and several of the assistants.

But that powerful, popular move would be too logical for Elway, and might actually provide the way to three victories against such lousy teams as the Jets, the Colts and even the Chiefs. And Elway, as I’ve written before, is not a man who admits to his mistakes.

Nevertheless, that decision wouldn’t be smart.

The Broncos need to lose, and Joseph and his coordinators are just the guys to make it happen.

In Los Angeles and Oakland, I was amazed at how fundamentally unsound the Broncos were and how scatter-brained the coaches were. Olivo has to be the worst special teams coach in NFL history. Woods certainly couldn’t replace Wade Phillips, and the defense has regressed, and Musgrave has done nothing as offensive coordinator after taking over for Mike McCoy – who already is receiving offers from other teams to become an advisor down the stretch, a coordinator next year.

No, Joseph should not be fired now.

But he should be fired on Jan. 1, 2018.

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