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Paul Klee: Despite 4-0 preseason record, Broncos need less "V.J." and more "yes, sir"

By: Paul Klee
August 31, 2017 Updated: September 1, 2017 at 12:27 am
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photo - Denver Broncos quarterback Kyle Sloter (1) is sacked by Arizona Cardinals linebacker Josh Bynes (57) during the first half of an NFL preseason football game, Thursday, Aug. 31, 2017, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
Denver Broncos quarterback Kyle Sloter (1) is sacked by Arizona Cardinals linebacker Josh Bynes (57) during the first half of an NFL preseason football game, Thursday, Aug. 31, 2017, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski) 

DENVER — Don’t get me wrong. From Instaface to Snapgram, social media can be a real kick in the pants.

Just not when it's used to show up the 23-year-old quarterback for the world to see. Right, Will Parks? And I’m over the moon for Menelik Watson and his lovely bride-to-be. It takes a full heart to propose marriage in front of 76,000 strangers. But during a game when guys on the field are playing for their jobs?

While it’s true the Broncos remain a threat to the Patriots because the ‘D’ is ready and willing to fight Handsome Tom, is it a good thing that Aqib Talib-Todd Davis was the undercard to Mayweather-MacGregor?

Yes, there was too much nonsense and matters unrelated to work in a Broncos preseason that wrapped up late Thursday night against the Arizona Cardinals at Mile High. Too much yada-yada-yada that wouldn’t fly in places like Foxboro and Pittsburgh, two cities where the road to Super Bowl LII will travel straight through.

It can’t fly here in Colorado if Vance Joseph’s first season is going to be a success. The coach who arrived with the reputation as a leader of men has seen too many grown men behave like little kids.

What makes the Broncos dangerous is also what can tear them down. They play with an earned reputation of tip-toeing the line between physical and dirty. They will rip the chain off your neck if it leads to a win. They don’t need another friend. They need a coach to show them who’s boss.

This version of the Broncos has more positives working in its favor than the Debbie Downers care to admit. It’s a team with too many Pro Bowl-caliber players to stink, one that came a dropped touchdown pass shy of making the playoffs despite fielding the franchise’s worst offense in over three decades.

Where there’s a Von, and a Chris, and an Aqib, and a Wolfe, and a DT, and a Ward (maybe), there’s a way.

But when the regular-season schedule is rated as the toughest in the NFL and the health of the offense depends on the health of a quarterback who gets injured a lot, there’s zero room for error. Or 45 penalties that led the league through three preseason games. I’m better with words than numbers, but 15 penalties per game is the kind of thing you see from the Raiders.

The old Raiders, not the new-and-improved Raiders.

This locker room would be a tough handle for any coach. It wasn’t that long ago that Talib eye-poked an Indianapolis Colt like a stooge. Those Broncos turned out OK and won Super Bowl 50. But it also wasn’t that long ago when pretty much the same locker room showed its focus was off in La-La Land and turned in one of the most embarrassing losses in club history, a home playoff defeat to the Colts, a rare moment of slippage during the all-business Peyton Manning era.

These Broncos don’t have a Peyton Manning to keep the locker room in line. The commander-in-charge must be the head coach, Joseph. The Broncos closed the preseason with a 4-0 record. So did the 2008 Detroit Lions, who went 0-16 when the games counted.

On a night for the third-stringers clawing to make the team, backup-to-the-backup quarterback Kyle Sloter showed there will be some anxious moments if Trevor Siemian trips over his dog walking down the stairs. But good luck finding anyone inside Mile High who would prefer Paxton Lynch over Sloter as the backup to Siemian. The best backup option at Dove Valley is Sloter, who completed 11 of 19 passes for 183 yards through three quarters.

This should have been a humbling offseason for the Broncos. They had a seat on the couch while their chief rival, the Patriots, celebrated in the Super Bowl, again. But the offseason ended with the roster emboldened to the point it questioned the brain functions of John Elway and the front office. When news broke that Denver is shopping popular safety T.J. Ward, his teammates put the general manager through the wringer on social media.

“Letting go of TJ would b (sic) a mistake,” linebacker Brandon Marshall told his 78,000 followers on Twitter.

Imagine for a second if that happened in New England. I’d pay for a media credential to witness the Bill Belichick press conference.

Hey, it’s cool with me if the Broncos want to let the players run the show. Talk about a season full of column ideas. But if the playoffs and beyond are still the goal around these hills, some discipline is in order.The Broncos need less “V.J.” and more “yes, sir.”

Twitter: @bypaulklee

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