DENVER - The Browncos fell to the Bungles Sunday 20-17.
John Elway was way wrong.
The team formerly known as the Broncos hasn’t gone SOFT.
Instead, the riddle inside a puzzle within a conundrum is LOFT.
Lack of Football Talent.
The Browncos don’t possess the talent necessary to succeed in the NFL. The players, the coaching staff and the front office. And even the great and powerful Elway.
As a result of suffering their humiliating sixth consecutive defeat Sunday afternoon, the Broncos have become the Browncos.
The Browncos are last in the AFC West and one of the first teams to be eliminated (unofficially, but realistically) from the postseason.
Denver representatives Martin Truex Jr. and Furniture Row are NASCAR Cup Champions, and the Browncos are in the pits.
The Browncos are historically horrendous on offense. No Denver team since 1971 has scored 23 or fewer points in eight games in a row. That season in the last eight games the Broncos scored 114 points. This season in the past eight games the Browncos have scored 117. During that stretch the Broncos won twice. During this streak the Browncos have won once.
Those ’71 Broncos finished with a 4-9-1 mark; these Browncos of the reverse year, ’17, could end up with more defeats.
Only the Browns (0-10) have a record worse than the Browncos in the AFC. Cleveland and Denver, once head-to-head challengers for the conference title, are Tank Towns now.
The Browns had three fumbles and two interceptions in their latest loss, which kept them ahead of the Browncos in the turnover race, 28-23. The Browns West had “only’’ one fumble and one interception and are minus-16.
The pick was a doozy.
In the first quarter, at 0-0, the Browncos blocked a punt and owned the ball at Cincinnati’s 29-yard line. Brock Osweiler took his offense to the 11-yard line and faced a third-and-three with a chance for the Browncos to earn a touchdown for the only time in the opening quarter in the last seven games.
Brock threw toward Cody Latimer in the end zone. Two yards deep, Bengals’ cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick grabbed the pass and began a cross-country jaunt, zigging, then zagging, then sagging. Without assistance, he fumbled after 87 yards. Dr. Dre retrieved the ball at the 1-yard line.
He had traveled 100 yards with no touchdown. The Bengals scored on third down, but the extra point kick was off.
The Browncos would reply with a 14-play, 75-yard drive for a 7-6 lead, but lost the advantage on the next Bengals’ possession and never caught up.
With under four minutes to play and the Browncos behind by only three points, the Bengals had another critical third down in their territory. Andy Dalton, who had never beaten Brock or the former Broncos, faked a handoff and faked out Von Miller, and ran for a first down. He stood up and spun the football on the turf. The game actually was over, although the Browncos got the ball once more and splattered and sputtered in three plays.
I recommended a week ago that Vance Joseph should be fired, but I knew Elway wouldn’t take such drastic action. Rather, he supported Joseph on Friday night, basically saying the leader of men was in a learning curve, and the team had gotten “a bit soft’’ after the 3-1 start and the early bye week.
A bit soft?
How about ductile and futile? The Browncos seemingly haven’t won a game in months. But they did win on Oct. 1, and December is almost here.
Let’s be honest. The Broncos have been inadequate since Peyton Manning carried them through four playoff seasons, just as John Elway used to carry the Broncos regularly to the postseason. The franchise needs another franchise quarterback, and there isn’t one among the four they have under contract.
They’ll have to find another QB next season, and about two dozen, or more, other quality players. They’ll have to replace the offensive coordinator and other assistants, and they’ll have to hire personnel people, and John Elway will have to look in the mirror and wonder if he’s become a bit soft.
Orange is the new Brown.