Lunch Special: Is it time for the Broncos to fire Vance Joseph?

Tuesday, 05 December 2017, 05:22:38 AM. Columnist Mark Kiszla on Monday answered questions from readers in a live Lunch Special chat. Here are the highlights:

Columnist Mark Kiszla on Monday answered questions from readers in a live Lunch Special chat. Here are the highlights:

Is it time the Broncos fire Vance Joseph?

Kiz: Vance Joseph is a good man. Players genuinely respect how he deals with them. So John Elway was correct: Joseph is a leader of men. But, time and again, it appears that Joseph’s resume did not properly prepare him for the big, multi-faceted job of coaching the Broncos. He’s not ready. That’s not his fault. But do Elway and Joe Ellis give him another year of on-the-job training? Will Broncos fans buy that. And I do mean “buy” literally. We’ll see in the final two home games how bad Joseph is for the game-day business of the Broncos. The organization takes this business seriously. A serious number of empty seats might force management to serious consider a move in a new direction.

Why don’t we buy Tom Brady?

Kiz: Cyber Monday came and went. You snooze. You lose.

Off season revamp. List some of the big contracts we have to jettison aside from the positional needs, like QB, offensive line, etc.

Kiz: Everybody must go! That’s what we all tend to shout in the middle of a historic losing streak for the Broncos. Well, everybody won’t go. Because you still need to send 11 guys out there on every snap. Unless, of course, you’re special teams coach Brock Olivo, who sometimes sends out 10 or 12. Olivo has to go. Doesn’t he? If Joseph stays, there will be major changes on his staff. But you want to know about players. The list of candidates for departure include Aqib Talib, Brandon Marshall, CJ Anderson and Demaryius Thomas, whose contract begs for a major overhaul. Not all of them will be gone. but not all of them will stay. Stay tuned.

Is it time to free up cap space (wide receivers) to pursue a free agent quarterback?

Kiz: It’s impossible to predict right now exactly which veteran QBs will hit the market. It could be a flood. Or maybe Kirk Cousins gets slapped with a franchise tag by Washington … and, who knows, maybe Eli Manning finds a way to kiss and make up with the Giants. Never say never in the Not For Long. On the free agent market, it seems likely Cousins can command in excess of $25 million per year. That’s a whole lotta money. But could John Elway free up that kind of dough? I’ll repeat: Never say never in the Not For Long.

Whats the probability on this scenario: Fire Vance, hire Jim Harbaugh, draft Saquon Barkley, sign Kirk Cousins?

Kiz: I like the way you think. But here’s the thing with dreams. The alarm clock rings at 6:15 a.m., no matter how much you’re enjoying the dream. Jim Harbaugh? Saquon Barkley? Kirk Cousins? It would be a minor football miracle if the Broncos land one of ’em in 2018.

Is Chad Kelly a dark horse for the Broncos quarterback job?

Kiz: Ah, folks love Chad Kelly. In large part because Kelly has not yet thrown a pick-6 and Trevor Siemian has. Stuff happens when you’re the starting quarterback, especially a young one in the NFL. Kelly could start a game for the Broncos in 2018. But, at this point, I’d say put the odds against it at about 25:1. Hope I’m wrong and he fools me (which isn’t hard to do).

Do you feel this will happen again next season? What can we do to come back?

Kiz: The temptation will be do get back to the top ASAP. John Elway is a competitive son of a gun, and he wants to win now as much as anyone in Broncos Country. But it seems to me the only way to get back to the playoffs next year with any certainty is to go spend big bucks on a free-agent QB like Cousins. Or, dare I say it, maybe Alex Smith hits the market. The way to rebuild for the long-term is to draft and develop a young QB. The Broncos drafted Paxton Lynch. They had not a clue how to develop him. So this is a franchise at a crossroads. Quick fix? Or knock it down and start over?

Why is Elway so indecisive for the first time in his life? Why wait for the end of the season when the writing on the wall is so clear that you and the fans can read it? Make coaching changes now and it is not just Vance. He needs to clean house.

Kiz: John Elway is not indecisive by nature. The sense I get is the Broncos would prefer not to fire Joseph, if for no other reason than to avoid spinning in the revolving door of coaches. But I’m not sure Joseph is giving them much choice. He must give Broncos Country a reason to believe.

Forget about cap space. Why would Drew Brees or Kirk Cousins want to come be the king of our garbage heap? I vote we suck for Sam.

Kiz: Drew Brees would be nuts to leave New Orleans for Denver. So unless he’s nuts, he won’t. Cousins? That could be a different story … But, hey, I’m optimistic by nature. They don’t call me Mr. Sunshine for nothing. Ha.

Hey, pitchers and catchers report in few months, so not all hope is lost!!

Kiz: True dat. The Rockies are the best pro team in town. And who would’ve thunk any of us could ever say that?

The Browns need a win, when do they play the Broncos?

Kiz: Well-played, sir. Snark always welcome round here. I don’t know what the oddsmakers in Las Vegas would say. But I’m thinking the Broncos would be favored over the Browns by 4.5 points on a neutral field. And preferably that field would be in the middle of nowhere, maybe 50 miles out of Fargo, so none of us would have to watch the game.

In hindsight, did it make sense to bust the salary on a linebacker that gets 11ish sacks per year?

Kiz: Von Miller is the real deal as a defensive force. Some of us tried to warn Broncos Country that defense might win championships, but great D is not as crucial as a great QB in the NFL. And what has been revealed this year: Miller is a good teammate. He’s a positive influence in the locker room. But it’s not Miller’s nature to be a great leader, in the mold of DeMarcus Ware or Peyton Manning. And, as things have gone bad, the Broncos have missed that leadership.

What happened? Are the Broncos burning out or are they being game planned against?

Kiz: The Broncos pulled off a once-a-decade or so miracle and won Super Bowl 50 with a great defense and sub-par play at QB. Then they came back and tried to defend the championship, rather than getting on with the tough task of rebuilding the roster. That’s not a sin. It’s human nature for any competitive person or organization. That Trevor Siemian was given 22 starts to show he’s a career back-up (and a capable one) in the NFL was a joke. Paxton Lynch was not ready to play in 2016. He’s not ready now. But the Broncos had to find out with more than a 3-game tryout. It’s a hard decision that this team chose not to make.

I know the margin between winning and losing in the NFL is thin, but it is astonishing that someone with the experience of John Elway could have put this team and staff on the field without knowing it would be historically bad. Going from a world championship to a NFL cellar dweller in less than two years defies credulity.

Kiz: Nobody knew the Broncos would be historically bad. Nobody I know made that call. But John Elway did offer hints that he knew this would be a bumpy season. If Denver was truly planning on competing for a championship in 2017, Elway would not have hired a first-time head coach, drafted a rookie to play left tackle and made the QB job a competition between an immature draft pick (Lynch) and a 7th-rounder with limited upside (Siemian). I doubt Elway saw this train wreck coming. But he knew this season wasn’t going to end in a Super Bowl parade.

Seriously … what’s left to watch for this season? At least with Paxton Lynch I could convince myself that there was something worth tuning in to see – however it turned out. But, now …I can’t come up with anything. Am I missing something?

Kiz: One of the most interesting moments in the locker room after that wretched loss to Miami was when Emmanuel Sanders invited the media over for a chat. At one point he admitted that having something to look forward to is a huge part of his weekly motivation. And Sanders further admitted he wasn’t certain what that thing to look forward to is now. Like many fans in Broncos Country, looking forward to the sun coming up tomorrow ain’t what it used to be. And that’s one reason why a team with playoff aspirations that goes bad can run far off the rails, because the shock to the system is so great that athletes stop playing football and start wondering where they will be next year.

Do GMs ask players their thoughts on what is wrong with the team or coach, why they are losing, etc.. or do they have to try and figure it out by just observing the games and practices?

Kiz: A coach or GM can lean on a wise-old head in the locker room. Some NFL coaches have a players council. Peyton Manning knew all, saw all. There’s no player with Manning’s authority on the Broncos now.

It’s easy to say “fire Joseph” but who do we get to replace him?

Kiz: At this time a year ago, did casual NFL fans know who the heck Sean McVay was? He’s going to be coach of calendar year 2017 with the Los Angeles Rams.

Find the full chat transcript below:

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