CENTENNIAL, Colo. -- Trevor Siemian had a chance to play college football at Harvard. He understands the current criticism. Wednesday, he showed up looking like he stepped out of a boxing ring.
Revealing the residue of Melvin Ingram's eye-opening hit, Siemian's nose was slightly swollen, symbolic of an offense that has scored three touchdowns in its last four games. "It's good. It's a little bruise. I probably should have broken it," Siemian said. "I deserve it the way I played."
Siemian will get no argument on talk shows or social media. Few are coming to his defense after his six turnovers in four games. Siemian dropped to 3-8 when he throws at least 35 times. He owns a 3-6 road record. He is a captain. He needs to lead, but that starts with his own improvement.
"I wasn't holding up my end of the bargain. It's tough to get on guys when you are not playing well," said Siemian, who is on a season pace of 21 touchdowns and 19 interceptions. "I have to play better. It starts with me. We have great leadership on offense. Guys are frankly embarrassed with what we put out there last Sunday. We have to play better. I have to play better. Everyone knows that."
For Siemian, the directive is simple: take care of the ball. There has been speculation he has been tipping plays, but coach Vance Joseph dismissed that theory. The Broncos are minus-8 in the turnover battle in losses, and even in wins. They need a reliable Siemian. It starts with a run game. The Broncos have been as balanced as a baby giraffe in recent weeks. In their wins, the Broncos average 154 yards rushing. In their losses, it sits at 75. What is the key, I asked Joseph, to reviving the ground attack?
"We have to, first of all, block the heavy fronts, block the eight-man fronts. And we need the backs to make the guys miss who are unblocked because there's going to be one guy unblocked in that front," said Joseph, explaining teams are no longer relying on zone coverage. "In the pass game, we have to be efficient. When they close the middle or play man free or cover-three, we have to be efficient. And that hasn't happened."
Wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders and linebacker Todd Davis, both out with ankle injuries, did not practice. They will be racing the clock to be ready for Monday night. ... Not only will outside linebacker Shane Ray make his season debut Monday, he will start. "I am ready," said Ray, who will wear a cast on his left wrist that has screws inserted to promote the healing. ... Right tackle Menelik Watson (calf) is making progress toward returning against Kansas City. ... Cornerback Aqib Talib believes Siemian is handling the pressure of this slump well. He has no choice. "He came out there today and had a great day. That's part of his job. He has the hardest job in the world. If we lose, he gets all the flak. And if we win, he gets the credit. It comes with it. He's a grown man, and that's why he's our starting quarterback." ... The defensive linemen rocked out at the Broncos' Halloween party, going as members of KISS, decked out in full makeup. Von Miller went as Colonel Sanders and linebacker Brandon Marshall, um, went as Von Miller.