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Paul Klee: The Vance Joseph Era can't end soon enough for Broncos after smackdown by Patriots

By: Paul Klee
November 12, 2017 Updated: November 13, 2017 at 10:36 am
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During the second quarter Denver Broncos tight end A.J. Derby (83) is stopped short of a first down by New England Patriots cornerback Jonathan Jones (31). The Denver Broncos and New England Patriots played on Sunday Night Football at Sports Authority Field at Mile High Stadium on Sunday, November 12, 2017. (Photo by Jerilee Bennett, The Gazette)

DENVER — The Broncos can wait to fire Vance Joseph. 

They can draft a quarterback with their top-10 (top 5?) pick and see what Joseph does with the kid. Let this thing play out. See if he turns it around.

Maybe VJ’s Broncos will learn you play with 11 men, not 12 or 10. Sunday night in another embarrassing loss, this time 41-16 to the Patriots, the Broncos had the Patriots in a 4th-and-5. Flag. Twelve men on the field. First down, Patriots. A couple snaps earlier, the Broncos took the field with 10 men, and the Patriots ran the ball into the end zone for a touchdown.

Maybe coordinator Brock Olivo and the special teams will learn to cover a kickoff (the Pats returned one for a touchdown), catch a punt (the Broncos fumbled one) and properly punt (they had one blocked). Maybe they won’t be outscored 58-18 in the first half, as they were in the past two games. Maybe next time Denver and New England play each other — they're not scheduled to play in 2018, by the grace of God — the Patriots won’t treat the Broncos like a practice squad. Maybe. But I doubt it.

This season ended Sunday before 75,284 at Mile High. The “VJ” era can’t end soon enough.

“We have to look at personnel, scheme, all of it,” Joseph said.

Hate to keep beating a dead horse, but Joseph is in so far over his head I’m concerned he can’t see the field. His Broncos have become a bye week.

Broncos Patriots
Broncos head coach Vance Joseph, Joe Woods, defensive coordinator, Bill Kollar, defensive line coach, and Marcus Robertson, defensive back coach (left to right) confer as the Patriots near the goal line. The Denver Broncos and New England Patriots played on Sunday Night Football at Sports Authority Field at Mile High Stadium on Sunday, November 12, 2017. (Photo by Jerilee Bennett, The Gazette) 

The Patriots will conduct their practice work this week at the Air Force Academy. They held their first practice Sunday night.

It’s the first time the Broncos have lost five straight games since 2010, when Josh McDaniels was fired in Week 14. It can’t get worse than this: in a span of four calendar weeks, the Broncos have lost coming off a bye week to a winless team (the Giants), in a shutout (to the Chargers), to a division rival (the Chiefs) and to a legendary coach-quarterback combination (the Patriots).

At no point during the losing streak have the Broncos been competitive. In four of five games, they never held a lead. In the other one, they led for 6.7 percent of a 28-point loss at Philadelphia. Six. Point. Seven. Percent.

Let the analysis of the 2018 NFL draft begin. 

Perhaps the most telling moment arrived at halftime. The Broncos entered the tunnel to boos from the home crowd. No biggie. Broncos Country is a demanding bunch. They've booed before. But these weren’t angry boos, the kind that sting, the kind that suggest disappointment. They were halfhearted boos, as if the locals expected a blowout. Apathy is always worse.

The Patriots won back-to-back games at Mile High for the first time since 1965-66. And you know it’s bad when Bill Belichick and Tom Brady are winning here. Handsome Tom improved to 4-7 in Colorado. Belichick avoided his usual, antsy altitude act and politely allowed the Broncos to hand him a win.

The Broncos obliged, as they always do these days.

"I think everyone's frustrated right now," quarterback Brock Osweiler said.

"It's not for a lack of effort. I can tell you that," Osweiler added.

The Broncos didn’t lose to Brady. They were already down 14-3 by the time Brady threw his fourth pass. If Olivo, the special teams coach, still has a job here by happy hour Monday, Dove Valley truly has become the Land of Fourth Chances. I would regurgitate the special teams disaster that made its weekly cameo, but this is a family publication and I love my job.

The Broncos used to break records. Now they're a broken record.

"We have to do a better job of covering tight ends and (running) backs," Joseph said.

"Effort is not the problem," he said. "It's execution."

"When you lose like this, it's on all of us," he said. "It's the staff that we chose and we felt great about."

The Broncos can wait to fire Vance Joseph. There's a phrase for that. It's called delaying the inevitable.

Twitter: @bypaulklee

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