DENVER • There was a bad moon rising Sunday night in Denver.
Because the Broncos are on a bad run.
With just over three minutes remaining in the latest loss, Vance Joseph started shaking his head on the sideline. So did the rest of us remaining at Broncos Stadium at Mile High (B.S. at M.H. seems appropriate.)
“When you can’t stop the run, you can’t win,” the coach would say later.
He may have been lamenting Todd Gurley’s personal-best 208 running yards, or the Rams’ total of 270 yards. Or perhaps he was moaning, and groaning, about the 593 run yardage – 593! – amassed by the most recent two opponents, including 219 by the Jets’ Isaiah Crowell.
An overall average of 8.43 yards per carry.
Or maybe Joseph was wailing in reaction to the Broncos’ four-game repulsive run.
Here’s a bad sign you won’t read or hear anywhere else:
The Broncos have writhed through at least four consecutive defeats in the 2016-2018 seasons. The Broncos didn’t make the playoffs the previous seasons and won’t this year. In the franchise’s seven-decade history, whenever the team has fallen in four or more in a row, the Broncos have never reached the playoffs.
Vance might have been shaking his head because the end is in sight. If the Broncos flop in Arizona Thursday night and Kansas City on Oct. 28, there’s no way, Elway, that John must allow Joseph to coach another game in Denver. Broncos CEO Joe Ellis gave Joseph the dreaded quasi-vote of confidence days ago.
The Broncos not only lost a game on Sunday afternoon, they’d already had lost a large portion of their previous partisan patrons. A crowd close to capacity was announced, but the vast number of empty seats made it seem more like the 46,943 who were in attendance on Dec. 30, 1990.
Blame no-shows on the no-snow, which had disappeared before the game, and the second coldest kickoff temperature in October. Possibly, people were more interested in seeing the aspens turn than the Broncos twist in the wind. It might have been a silent protest for the first time since the Josh McDaniels Error in 2009-10.
Joseph’s “moral” efforts against the Super-Bowl contending Chiefs and Rams – at HOME – don’t matter for the coach or quarterback Case Keenum, who said after the Jets’ debacle he was “not into moral victories.”
But the Broncos don’t amp the rhythm on offense until the fourth quarter in any game.
Joseph guaranteed changes. It was assumed that he would order a few changes in the starting lineup and new schemes to shut down the run, and that he definitely would have the Broncos run the football more frequently with rookies Phillip Lindsay and Royce Freeman, one of the best early-season tandems in the league.
Lindsay & Freeman combined for 13 attempts (nine by Royce) for 40 yards. The previous week they managed 17 rushes (12 for Phillip) for 92 yards.
What in the name of Terrell Davis? Against the Cardinals, will the Broncos run at all?
Arizona running back David Johnson has struggled this season (55 yards in the Cardinals’ setback to the Vikings Sunday) after being out all but one game in ’17 because of injury. Johnson’s eyes must be wide open, though, after seeing how running backs are chewing up yards and the Broncos.
Gurley and Crowell might as well have been playing 8-man football. Crowell ran off a 77-yard touchdown. Gurley was “held” to a 29-yard burst, but did score two touchdowns while racking up yard upon yards upon first downs.
Oh, Emmanuel Sanders did have a statistically special game with seven receptions for 115 yards. His longest was for 43 – but a yard and a brain-burp short. Sanders was pulled down, the officials ruled, on the one-yard line when the game was tight in the first half. Thinking he had scored, Emmanuel was judged guilty of taunting. Instead of a go-ahead touchdown (7-6), the Broncos were penalized back to the Rams’ 16. They would manage only a field goal.
The four-point difference at that point actually mattered in a three-point defeat.
Spot in the second reader might run 150 yards against the Broncos. Run, Spot, Run. Bad, Broncos, Run.