CENTENNIAL, Colo. -- Brock Olivo is no stranger to public criticism. He ran for Congress in Missouri in 2008. It takes thick skin to enter the political arena. However, even a unsuccessful campaign could not have prepared Olivo for his public flogging as the Broncos special teams coach.
Denver ranks near last in every meaningful category and bottomed out last Sunday when a fumbled punt, a blocked punt, and a kickoff return allowed for a touchdown. Olivo called it a 'deplorable' performance.
"Any vitriol that I would receive would be justified because it was a deplorable performance. This place has a high standard and that’s why I love being here, because it does have a high standard. You don’t want to be in a place where mediocracy [sic] is accepted. Nobody wants that," Olivo told me. "This place is known for its Hall of Famers and its Super Bowls. I have to live up to that level. So no, I’m not surprised at the vitriol and, in fact, I deserved it. I need it and it’ll make us better.”
This remains a prove it week for the Broncos. Fans are tired of hearing about great weeks of practice and the right mindset. They want the team to be about it, not talk about it. This is a results-oriented business. Joseph has been challenged not only to steer the train back on the track, but hold his coaches more accountable. Olivo referenced this point, saying he had to be tougher on underperforming players. It has led to changes. Isaiah McKenzie is out as the punt returner, replaced by Jordan Taylor. McKenzie will be inactive, needing a mental break to better understand the value of the fair catch.
The Broncos also brought in a left-footed punter, Jeff Locke, to get Taylor comfortable facing the Bengals Kevin Huber. There will be personnel changes as well. Look for linebackers Deiontrez Mount and Joe Jones to add athleticism and speed to the Broncos coverage units.
It has been 47 days and counting since the Broncos' last victory on Oct. 1 against Oakland. That also marks the last time the Broncos scored a first quarter touchdown, which eloquently explains how they have been outscored 106-24 in the first half during their five-game losing skid.
"Every NFL game is tough. Every week is a ‘prove it’ week in the NFL. For us, it’s a week to play cleaner football game," Broncos coach Vance Joseph said. "That’s our goal, to play our best game of the year Sunday. Prove it or not, we have to go get a win. However you put it, we have to go get a win this week.”
Tight ends A.J. Derby (shoulder) and Jeff Heuerman (knee) were ruled out for Sunday's game. The Broncos are considering activating practice squad tight end Austin Traylor or simply using a second tackle in double tight end sets. ... Allen Barbre will make his second straight start at right tackle. ... Paxton Lynch remains in line to back up Brock Osweiler this week, which would leave Trevor Siemian inactive.