Elway says coach Vance Joseph’s job is safe for now
AP Pro Football Writer
ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — John Elway says he’s going to “stay the course” with Denver Broncos head coach Vance Joseph despite his 8-17 record.
Elway told Broncos broadcasting partner Orange & Blue 760 that he’s encouraged by the team’s improvement despite its 3-6 record, which is identical to last year’s mark after nine games.
“At this point in time, we’re going to stay the course. I think there’s enough good things that are going on as far as us and the way that we’re playing,” Elway said. “I’m much more encouraged this year than I was last year.”
A year ago, the Broncos were in the midst of a franchise-worst eight-game skid that included its first shutout in a quarter century and a series of double-digit losses.
This year, they’ve hung tough with some of the league’s top teams, losing by a combined 16 points to the Texans (6-3), Rams (8-1) and Chiefs (8-1) twice.
Brandon McManus missed a 51-yard field goal attempt as time expired in their crushing 19-17 loss to Houston on Sunday .
Although the Broncos have lost six of their last seven, Joseph hasn’t lost the locker room.
“I like the heartbeat of this team and the fact that they’re competitors and they continue to work hard,” Elway said. “As you know, they’re very, very frustrated because they’ve put in a lot of hard work and they’re not getting paid back for all the work they put in with the win.”
Earlier this season, Elway said it was difficult to make many changes midseason and he reiterated that Monday.
“You’d love to have the magic wand and throw the fairy dust on this thing and have some good things happen and get us over the hump,” Elway said. “We’ve been in six one-score games, so I’m much more encouraged this year than I was last year because I think that guys are still playing hard and we’re in games.”
Elway acknowledged last year that he considered firing Joseph after his 5-11 rookie season
Joseph said this summer that he knew he had to get off to a fast start in 2018 for his job security but in the midst of another trying season, he said Monday his focus is on football, not his employment.
“That’s not my concern right now, my future,” Joseph said. “It’s about the players and the coaches and winning football games.”
Joseph has taken heat for his clock management at the end of both halves Sunday, when McManus missed consecutive kicks for the first time in his five-year NFL career, a 62-yarder in the second quarter that led to a field goal by Houston instead and a 51-yarder as time expired that would have given Denver a 20-19 win.
Joseph accepted the blame for the first one, saying he got greedy in going for the long field goal and leaving the Texans enough time to kick their own field goal for a six-point swing at the half.
“Put that on me,” Joseph said. “I was chasing points. That’s wrong.”
Joseph, however, staunchly defended his decision-making on the second one when he decided not to risk Case Keenum getting sacked again after the Broncos had crossed the Houston 35-yard line with about 40 seconds left.
Phillip Lindsay ran up the middle for minus-1 yard and then Denver called timeout with three seconds left.
“I have no problem with how we handled that situation,” Joseph said.
However, McManus is much more accurate from inside of 50 yards than outside.
He’s 23 of 30 in his career between 40 and 49 yards for a 77 percent clip.
From 50-plus yards, he’s just 13 of 25 for a 52 percent success rate.
“Our field-goal line was the 35-yard line. We got to the 33,” Joseph said. “So, at that point, yardage-wise we were good. Obviously, with that pass rush, I wasn’t going to drop back again and allow (Whitney) Mercilus, (Jadeveon) Clowney and (J.J.) Watt to hit the quarterback and the ball’s on the turf and now we lose the game.
“So, my thought process was we have the yards we need. Let’s try to pop a run and get five or six more yards and kick the field goal and win the game. But I wasn’t going to expose our quarterback and our O-line to that pass rush one more time and now if they make a play, now we’re all idiots, right?
“It’s easy Monday morning to say that wasn’t right. But I’m very comfortable with that.”
Follow Arnie Melendrez Stapleton on Twitter: twitter.com/arniestapleton