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Five things we learned from the Broncos season-ending loss to the Bengals

As it stands now the only team in the AFC with a worse record than Denver is the Cleveland Browns.

Cincinnati Bengals v Denver Bronco Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

The Denver Broncos are on to 2018.

At least this disaster is over in quick fashion and we don’t need to fret about it anymore. It’s not a surprise for those of us who watched last season, but there’s always hope in Broncos Country. After the 20-17 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals all hope is gone. Well, not exactly, since Denver has the tie breaker over Cincinnati and the New York Giants. Why does that matter? As is stands now the Broncos would select at No. 4 in the NFL Draft. If the Giants continue to win, #LOLChiefs, Denver could select in the top three.

Perhaps it’s sad, but it’ll make the rest of the 2017 season fun. As it stands now the only team in the AFC with a worse record than your Broncos is the Cleveland Browns. That’s quite the company for Broncos Country to keep.

Here are the five things we learned from Sunday’s season-ending loss.

Vance Joseph should get fired

Should and will are two different things. But since the franchise made Mike McCoy the fall guy, they need to take the next step and fire Joseph, who hired McCoy in the first place. What you see on the field in Denver is a result of Joseph’s rank incompetence.

As I said in my column after Sunday’s game, Joseph should never coach another game for this team. He’s not just in over his head, he is wholly incompetent. He has no idea what he’s doing on any level and, as the cliche goes in the NFL, the results speak for themselves.

The Broncos have been shutout for the first time in 25 years. They also just lost at home to the Bengals for the first time since 1975. And now they’ve lost six-straight games for the first time since 1990. But it goes beyond even the results, however that’s possible.

Joseph and his staff are made to look like fools week in and week out. They look lost, and with it their team looks lost. Joseph and his staff have no plan for any moment in the game. One could say Joseph has been outcoached by amateurs but that would imply Joseph is even that. But, hey, at least they have great practices, right?

As Adam Malnati and I said on the MHR Radio Recap, even more damning for Joseph, Elway and the organization is that Joseph has become a meme. He’s a joke no one takes seriously. If that belief hasn’t crept into the locker room yet, it’s only a matter of a time.

Yes, there’s a debate as to whether Elway should give Joseph another year and “let him grow and learn.” That to fire Joseph now or at the end of the season is a “knee-jerk reaction.” Where, pray tell, is the evidence to support such a statement that Joseph will “grow and learn?”

Admit the mistake, limit the damage and move on. It’s not like Elway is in danger of losing his job over this decision, as bad as it was. At this point Elway is delaying the inevitable, but that’s another theme for this organization the last two seasons so it makes sense. This team is no longer run on expectations of success but the hope it may happen.

Time to, once and for all, go all-in on Paxton Lynch

This should have happened in August 2016, but here we are. Elway and Denver has to find out what it has in Lynch. At least get an idea prior to the offseason so the Broncos aren’t in this situation for the third season in a row.

What should help give Lynch, the offense and the coaches some confidence is how bad the Oakland Raiders pass defense is.

All we know at this point is it can’t get worse, so throw Lynch out there and see what he has. And as Adam said on Twitter, that’s the way for Broncos Country to make this season not a total waste. It’s time to know which direction the franchise will head in 2018.

If Elway, Joseph and the Broncos still will not get behind Lynch with the season over, it’s time to move on.

Mile High Salute to Demaryius Thomas

There isn’t a player who creates such a wide range of emotion and reaction from fans as Thomas.

Thomas gets ridiculed, rightly, for his drops. But he produces like few receivers in the NFL and history of the Broncos. Sunday is yet another example of what you get with Thomas. A few forehead-slapping drops but still finds a way to produce and make history. You run the gamut with Thomas and you get it in one game.

His touchdown in the fourth quarter ties him with Shannon Sharpe for the second-most touchdown receptions (55) in franchise history. Regardless of how you feel about Thomas, he’s left his mark on Denver’s record book as a receiver.

Broncos need to release Jamaal Charles

To get more evidence Joseph and his staff have no clue what they’re doing see their usage of Charles on offense. They have mismanaged and underutilized Charles from the start of the season. As others have pointed out, how a team that struggles in the passing game to get running backs and tight ends involved doesn’t use this valuable weapon is beyond stupid. It’s not like he hasn’t shown flashes either because he has. We’ve heard for six weeks how Charles will get more touches and get a bigger role in the offense. We’re still waiting.

Thus, Elway needs to release Charles and give him the chance to sign on with a team that knows how to utilize him properly. Give him the chance to play and sign with a contender. Broncos fans won’t like this, but imagine Charles with Tom Brady and the New England Patriots offense. That’s a head coach and offensive staff who knows what it’s doing and what they have in Charles.

It makes no sense to keep Charles in Denver to stand on the sideline, watch and eat up a roster spot. One could say the same about Trevor Siemian. Why does this team need three quarterbacks?

What happened to the AFC West?

It’s not just the Broncos who have underperformed, it’s the entire division. Remember the talk prior to the start of the season about how the AFC West is the best in football? Yeah, not so much. It’s the quite the opposite, in fact.

The Oakland Raiders are the Raiders, which is glorious.

The Los Angeles Chargers flogged the Buffalo Bills but they’re still two games under .500.

The Kansas City Chiefs just lost to the hapless Giants, which is glorious. As I said on the MHR Radio Recap, the Chiefs will win the AFC West and proceed to win as many playoff games as Denver, which is glorious.

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