It’s out with the young and in with the old as the new calendar year approaches. If only we were already onto that new football year.
But soon enough, soon enough.
Following the meltdown in LA, Broncos CEO Greg Penner decided enough was enough and even with two weeks to go, Nathaniel Hackett could no longer keep his office at Dove Valley.
And only with a little irony, the guy replacing him for the last two games is the guy Hackett brought in Week 4 to help him with game management.
Now Jerry Rosburg will be the ultimate game manager - the head coach.
#Broncos face their toughest game all season - #Chiefs at Arrowhead.— Doctor of Words (and tights) (@docllv) December 31, 2022
And they're doing it with interim head coach Jerry Rosburg taking the reins: "I'm not scared."
I am, but I still love that he's not https://t.co/CRopA456Pd
And even though he has two weeks, the experienced new guy has lofty goals for this mess of a team.
“I’m not scared,” he said when asked about his first NFL game as a head coach, which happens to be against the best team in the division and perhaps the NFL.
But Rosburg definitely understands how fans are feeling and gets the fact that accountability is a No. 1 priority for these final two games, even if winning is mostly impossible.
“These fans in this area are tired of watching what they have been watching, especially with the team that we are playing this week. They’re frustrated and they are expressing their frustration. I understand that, and I understand that to a core,” he said before launching into a defense of owner/CEO Greg Penner & Co. as well as GM George Paton. “This has been a mess. You are all aware of that. The fans are tired of it, but we made this mess. … We have to humble ourselves and go change this thing.”
Which is exactly what Rosburg plans to do with an offense that can barely score touchdowns and a defense that gave up 51 points to the backup QB last week.
Although this team came close to finally beating KC a few weeks ago - as it rallied from a 27-0 deficit - beating the Chiefs at their place is what we as overreacting journalists like to call “insurmountable.”
Thankfully, Ejiro Evero is remaining in his spot as defensive coordinator, to help the Broncos defense do its best to keep Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs’ high-octane offense in check.
“We just need to start fast,” Evero said of changing the defense’s approach from the last meeting where they settled in after a disastrous first half. “We all have to understand [Mahomes] is going to make plays and we just have to continue battle and continue to stay with the game plan.”
But you have to hand it to Rosburg. He sounds like he’s been biting his lip for weeks regarding some of the Broncos’ worst performance issues - beginning with special teams and the offensive line.
So that’s why in his first hours as interim he fired Dwayne Stukes and Butch Barry.
“I said yesterday that I was going to jump into the middle of special teams, and that is what I’ve done,” he said while complimenting interim special teams coach Mike Mallory. “We’re trying to improve the special teams because as you all would agree, it needed work. I’m providing Mike and the players with my view on things. Mike is doing all of the dirty work. He’s drawing up the schemes, he’s dealing with the depth charts, and he’s organizing the practices and doing all of that. Then I go and do my thing because I can.”
And as Rosburg noted, the clock ticks on and he has just a few hours to get the team ready for the Chiefs.
“I don’t know this Kansas City team like I would if I had been coaching against them,” he said. “I would know everything. I don’t know this team inside and out like I need to, so I’m trying to catch up as well. I appreciate those guys that are helping me. The clock is ticking. This much I know. They’re not waiting for us. This league waits for no one. It rolls on. … Their roster is littered with stars.”
But as has been the story of the season for this team, Denver will be without some of its stars such as Randy Gregory and Greg Dulcich while Jerry Jeudy, Baron Browning and DJ Jones are all questionable.
Still, cornerback and lone Pro Bowl starter from the Broncos Pat Surtain is aiming to finish the season strong, beginning with the Chiefs.
“We have to limit their explosive plays. That’s where the team rallies around. It starts with their quarterback, Patrick Mahomes, and their perimeter guys that create plays for him. If we limit that, we have a good chance of slowing down their offense,” Surtain said. “Obviously, we got put in a certain circumstance, but at the end of the day, we have to control what we can control. That’s finishing the season out strong. That’s the main thing for the team moving forward.”
It would be hard to blame fans for not caring too much about these final games as most attention has turned to the head coaching search and fans begin hope for next season far earlier than they had ever planned.
But as the Broncos literally go limping onto the field in KC, Broncos Country can [maybe] hope for a decent showing and before moving on quickly to fixing this dumpster fire.