ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- As fan frustration reaches a boil following the Broncos' sixth loss in seven games, general manager John Elway shared their disappointment Monday, but has no plans to fire coach Vance Joseph during the bye week.
"At this point in time, we're going to stay the course. I think there's enough good things that are going on as far us and the way that we're playing. ... I'm much more encouraged this year than I was last year," Elway said on Orange and Blue 760 AM during his regular spot with team-affiliated station. "We haven't made the plays that we need to get over the hump. I like the heartbeat of this team, the fact that they're competitors and they continue to work hard."
Joseph owns an 8-17 record and is 4-7 in games decided by one score. He drew fierce criticism for his clock management in last Sunday's 19-17 defeat to the Houston Texans. Joseph took blame for "chasing points" at the end of the first half, attempting a 62-yard field goal that led to a six-point swing. Brandon McManus missed the kick, and the Texans picked up 20 yards as Su'a Cravens and Josey Jewell were beaten on pass plays, leading to a Houston field goal.
"That's on me," Joseph said Monday. He told me the team's record influenced his decision as he was attempting to change the script for a struggling squad.
A feel-good ending began to develop on the final drive before another failed kick clobbered the Broncos. Quarterback Case Keenum, whom Elway praised for playing his best game this season, marched the Broncos into field range by converting a pair of fourth downs to Jeff Heuerman and Emmanuel Sanders. Keenum praised Sanders' route on Monday. His signature moment, though, quickly turned sour.
The Broncos reached the 32-yard line with roughly 30 seconds remaining. Joseph made the decision to stay conservative because he "didn't want to go backward" with a sack or a penalty from the offensive line, an indictment of the group's struggles. Phillip Lindsay lost a yard on a run play Joseph thought would be good for 5 yards when called.
It left McManus with a 51-yarder that he missed badly right, leaving the Broncos on the wrong end again. The numbers supported moving closer. McManus has converted 73 percent of his kicks between 40 and 49 yards (22-for-30) and 50 percent from at least 50 (13-for-26, including 5-for-11 over the past two seasons).
The Broncos haven't won a home game since Sept. 16. Elway met with Joseph Monday morning to discuss the decision-making. He agreed with Joseph's thinking on the last offensive play.
"The last thing we want to do is make a mistake and go backwards. I'm not sure if it's at 35 (yards) if he makes it because he pushed it right," Elway said.
The Broncos are clearly a team in transition, if not rebuilding mode, though that phrase is never uttered at Dove Valley. Of Joseph's 17 losses, 10 have been by double digits. He is 2-10 in road games.
Monday, Joseph was asked, as he was prior to the Arizona game earlier this season, if he's concerned about his job status.
"That's not my focus. We have a month and three weeks left," Joseph said. "It's about the players and coaches, and winning football games."
Left unsaid about possibly making a change is the staff does not feature a ready-made interim. Veteran Geep Chryst fits the mold, but would that make a difference? And the coordinators -- Bill Musgrave and Joe Woods -- are dealing with the performance issues from their respective units. Special assistant Gary Kubiak's name is mentioned, but the idea of him returning for seven games given his health issues is not realistic.
For now, the Broncos will stay put. And without a remarkable turnaround, they will be playing for a high draft pick.
"Nah, I’m not OK. I’m about winning," cornerback Chris Harris Jr. said. "I’m a winner, so I’m not OK with it at all."