Last year, I railed against Broncos head coach Vance Joseph for not taking the reigns of the team forcefully enough. Poor play from Trevor Siemian, Isaiah McKenzie, and others was allowed to fester and persist long after identified. It was too little too late and by the time changes were made, the impacts negligible because the season was already a total loss.
What was so frustrating on Saturday night was that despite reports of running back Devontae Booker and quarterback Paxton Lynch struggling in training camp, they were given nods to start over the fresh young talent that could benefit and thrive with the reps.
There was no good reason to allow Booker to start over Royce Freeman. We already know what it looks like with Paxton under center. Didn’t Broncos fans suffer enough last year? Why is Denver starting 2018 by looking back fondly at 2017’s failures?
Why isn’t Vance Joseph using these valuable preseason games to try new things?
“If I know they’re bad, the other team obviously knows. Why Vance Joseph doesn’t seem to know is a mystery. We need him to stop being the last one to find these things out.”
My father relayed these thoughts to me when we did our usual post-game debrief. I don’t believe that Joseph doesn’t know. He’s got a staff, hours of video, and mountains of other evidence that tells him what all of us already know. Heck, Mile High Report has all the information he needs and it doesn’t cost him a dime.
I think it’s more complex. On the latest MHR Radio Podcast, Adam Malnati and Ian St. Clair shared their thoughts on Joseph. They’re thinking: If you had prior concerns about Joseph, he did nothing to alleviate those on Saturday night.
What kills me is that the coaching staff appears to want to establish a body of evidence to justify coaching decisions. Stop trying to justify and coach.— Jess Place (@Jezru) August 12, 2018
By most accounts, Freeman has outplayed Booker in TC. Why waste time and reps by starting Booker? Vance needs to own this team. Coaching to justify is awful football.— Jess Place (@Jezru) August 12, 2018
It appears that Joseph affords under-performing players second, third, and fourth chances so he can justify (to himself? Elway? The individual players?) whatever it is he’s ultimately going to do with them. There’s a consistent pattern of allowing sub-par play to continue and this justification is the only thing I can reason as to why.
While Joseph may be able to point his finger at the failure of these players, ultimately it’s on him. If the Broncos have any hope of success this season, Vance needs to grab the Broncos by the guts going forward. He needs to make bold decisions that show every player in that locker room that lackluster play won’t be tolerated. Bench guys, cut guys, give promising talent the opportunity to flourish. Don’t squander the preseason by playing the same people in positions that landed Denver a 5-11 season.
If Vance does the same things, the results at season’s end will be the same as it was last year. He needs to find his voice and light some fires or it’s going to be a long season.
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