“A leader of men.”
That’s what we heard ad nauseam about Vance Joseph when he interviewed and was eventually hired by John Elway and the Denver Broncos. “He has a great feel for the locker room.” “He knows how to connect with his players.” Heck, I was guilty of it. My fandom got in the way, and I apologize.
After Joseph’s first seven games as a head coach, and yet another performance that screams “my team is not prepared” after a 29-19 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs, the evidence says otherwise. The moment is too big for him, and as is the case with rookie head coaches, they get stubborn. What makes you hit your forehead even harder is his refusal to admit Trevor Siemian is a terrible quarterback. If Siemian ever throws another pass for the Broncos, that says everything you need to know about Joseph.
As was pointed out on Twitter: How the hell does Jamaal Charles get benched for his fumble, but Isaiah McKenzie and Siemian go blame-free? Joseph doesn’t think twice about keeping both on the field. How on any level does that make sense? And what does that say to the rest of the team? It shows you a coach who has no clue what he’s doing on the sideline, who is lost in a season that got away from him.
There was risk of a locker room split after the embarrassment against the Los Angeles Chargers. Joseph should have made the move to Brock Osweiler as soon as that game ended but refused. Instead, Joseph uttered the line that will come to define his tenure in Denver: “It’s not a Trevor problem.” What will the excuse be after Monday night against the Chiefs? Who else will he look to blame for the ineptitude of his quarterback after another atrocious game?
The issues that have plagued this offense since Week Two aren’t getting fixed, and they tie back to the trash at quarterback. Against Kansas City, the Broncos were terrible on third down (5-of-13) and in the red zone (2-of-4), but both were garbage time touchdowns. That’s about all you can rely on from Siemian (aside from constant checkdowns and interceptions): Padding his stats when the game doesn’t matter. But, hey, Joseph may again say, “We saw a lot of great things on tape.”
Cornerback Chris Harris left no doubt. The Broncos’ defense is frustrated: “It’s hard to win when you don’t score points.”— Nick Kosmider (@NickKosmider) October 31, 2017
The only reason the Broncos were in this game was because of the effort of the defense. Denver’s offense committed four turnovers, with a fumble returned for a touchdown, yet somehow still had a chance to win the game. As Adam Malnati said on Twitter, Denver lost to a kicker and its own offense. The anticipated split in Denver’s locker room just became a sure-fire lock (as you see from the comment by Chris Harris, the second week in a row he’s voiced that frustration).
At this point, Joseph is right: It’s no longer a Trevor problem, it’s a Vance problem.