Denver Broncos coach Vance Joseph bemoans QB Trevor Siemian's 'horrific decisions'

By The Sports Xchange  |  Oct. 31, 2017 at 8:24 PM
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ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- Chris Harris Jr. was at wit's end late Monday night.

The Denver Broncos' All-Pro cornerback is having another season that could earn him All-Pro consideration again. At the minimum, it should earn him his fourth consecutive Pro-Bowl selection. The Broncos' defense is doing its part; it forced two turnovers from a Chiefs offense that had gone 438 offensive snaps without a giveaway and held the high-powered Kansas City attack to a solitary touchdown.

"Frustration is very high, man," Harris said. "Tired of losing. Tired of losing the same way every game, man. We're not giving ourselves a chance to win."

Once again, Denver's dominant defense played well enough to win.

Once again, its efforts were torpedoed by an offense that passed out footballs like candy to trick-or-treaters.

Denver didn't lose 29-19 to the Chiefs because of its defense. It lost because of five turnovers, three of which were delivered via Trevor Siemian interceptions.

Siemian now has eight interceptions and a 67.1 passer rating in the Broncos' last five games, four of which they have lost. Denver's offense has mustered just 12.2 points per game in those contests, squandering the work of a defense that has allowed just 17.6 points per game and 1.4 touchdowns per game in that span.

"Tonight, our defense played winning football, in my opinion," Broncos head coach Vance Joseph said.

It has played winning football throughout the season, even during the Broncos' recent 1-4 slide. But that hasn't been enough because of the giveaways, which hit an epidemic point Monday night thanks to three Siemian interceptions on what Joseph called "horrible throws."

"I mean horrific decisions, with those three he threw," Joseph said. "But he had 20 other plays that were really, really good."

However, it's the interceptions that leave Siemian's job in jeopardy. Joseph said that he is evaluating the quarterback position, and while he had not made a decision as of Tuesday afternoon, a change to Brock Osweiler is a possibility.

"If a switch is made, it would be considered (to be) what's best for the football team," Joseph said.

More and more, it seems that Siemian isn't what's best -- not as long as he keeps giving away the football.

"I mean, it's high tension, man," Harris said. "We're not winning. We're not taking care of the football. We're giving games away."

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Is Osweiler ready to start if the Broncos called on him?

That, as much as the play of Siemian, could determine whether the Broncos make a quarterback change this week.

Osweiler's game action has been limited to one series of work late in the first half against the Giants in Week 6 as he serves as the Broncos' backup while continuing to undergo what Broncos general manager/president of football operations John Elway called "football rehab" nearly two months ago when he signed Osweiler to back up Siemian while Paxton Lynch recovered from a sprained right shoulder.

Lynch's recovery and work getting up to speed has not progressed to the point where Joseph is considering starting him against the Eagles, leaving Osweiler as the only other option. Osweiler has as many regular-season starts in the NFL as Siemian -- 21 apiece -- but the Broncos are his third team in the last 12 months after the Texans traded him to Cleveland, which released him at the cutdown to 53 players in September.

Broncos general manager/president of football operations John Elway indicated that if Joseph opted to start Osweiler, he would be comfortable with the choice.

"If a decision is made to go that direction, I think we would be fine," Elway told KDSP-AM 760 in Denver on his weekly radio show.

REPORT CARD VS. CHIEFS

--PASSING OFFENSE: F -- Trevor Siemian collapsed entirely against the Chiefs. He didn't get much help from others; wide receiver Bennie Fowler, who started in place of the injured Emmanuel Sanders, dropped a potential touchdown pass that could have pulled the Broncos within 10 points midway through the third quarter and given them a better platform from which to try and build a rally. But Siemian's three interceptions came on what Broncos head coach Vance Joseph called "horrible throws" and "horrific decisions" and overshadowed everything else.

--RUSHING OFFENSE: B -- C.J. Anderson left the game lamenting that he could have done more, but at the same time, he, Jamaal Charles and Devontae Booker were the most consistent aspect of the Broncos' offense once they got uncorked, working through sizable holes for 177 yards. Charles' lost fumble in the first quarter marred the night, but the overall production offered something on which the Broncos can build as they try to get some level of consistent production from their struggling offense.

--PASS DEFENSE: B-plus -- Tyreek Hill didn't dent the Broncos at all, but TE Travis Kelce was able to find enough space in coverage to post his third consecutive 100-yard game at the Broncos' expense and score Kansas City's only offensive touchdown. Aside from that, the Chiefs mustered little momentum against the Broncos' passing game, and the defense was able to rediscover its turnover touch with a pair of takeaways via a Darian Stewart interception of a Hill pass and a Shaquil Barrett strip-sack fumble of Alex Smith, who completed just 14 of his 31 passes.

--RUSH DEFENSE: A-minus -- Denver's defensive line continued its strong start to the season, allowing Kansas City to get little push while holding the Chiefs to 3.0 yards per carry on 26 attempts. Kareem Hunt mustered just 46 yards on 22 carries, and the Chiefs didn't rip off any of the game-breaking runs they have been able to post for most of the season to date.

--SPECIAL TEAMS: D-plus -- A series of high punts helped contain Tyreek Hill, although a holding penalty against the Chiefs saved the Broncos on Riley Dixon's first punt and wiped out a 36-yard return. Kicker Brandon McManus got back on track by hitting two field goals. But Cody Latimer muffed one kickoff and Isaiah McKenzie muffed a punt. Latimer recovered his muff, but McKenzie couldn't corral his loose football, allowing the Chiefs to recover and score via a field goal three plays later. McKenzie has four fumbles in his last three games.

--COACHING: C -- Defensively, coordinator Joe Woods' game plan only left Travis Kelce free; Kareem Hunt and Tyreek Hill were largely non-factors and the Chiefs struggled to generate any consistent production. On offense, Mike McCoy got the ground game going after two inefficient weeks, returning it to its September production level. But all of that was undone by errors of execution: three Siemian interceptions and a Charles fumble that Marcus Peters returned for a touchdown to put the Broncos behind for good less than six minutes into the game. Joseph now faces the biggest test of his young head-coaching career -- what to do at quarterback. His locker room could be fracturing as the defense grows weary of carrying the struggling offense once again. Even if the Broncos don't have a better option in Brock Osweiler, he may have to make a move just to shake things up and send a message that the current level of production from the offense is unacceptable.

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