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ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — “Fire Vance Joseph!”
“Sack Joe Woods!”
“Bench Case Keenum!”
The calls can be heard from every partially-full section of Mile High all game long. The people have seen enough, they want change, and they want change now.
It’s an understandable feeling for fans who have spent a year and a half now watching their team play bad football on their way to a 7-15 record in 22 games. These are the folks who spend their whole week looking forward to Sunday, people who take out a second mortgage on their house so they can afford season tickets. They’re sick of seeing the same thing fail over and over again.
There’s just one problem.
“I wish at this point in time we had the magic switch that we could switch that magic switch and fix this thing,” general manager John Elway told Orange & Blue 760 on Monday. “But once you get in the season there’s not a lot of fixes to it.”
“The only fix is to continue to work hard and get better and have the coaches get better and have the players play better,” he added. “At this point in time, that’s really the only thing that we have to get this thing turned around because there isn’t a magic switch, there isn’t a magic answer this time of year that you’re going to do it, and it’s going to turn around and all of a sudden fix everything.”
A cold, hard truth from the man in the corner office at Dove Valley.
Once free agency is gone, the draft is over, and training camp has passed, you’re kind of stuck with what you’ve got.
Sure, you can fire Vance Joseph, but then what? You promote a struggling coordinator and put even more on their plate? You promote a position coach and put more pressure on a short-handed staff?
The Broncos don’t exactly have a coordinator that they want to test drive in the head coach position and they don’t exactly have a guy that the players adore and would step up their game to get behind.
It’s a dead end.
Sure, you can fire Joe Woods, but then what? A reeling head coach takes over the defensive playcalling, stretching him even more thin and putting even more of a microscope on him while once again putting more on the plates of a short-handed staff?
Like the aforementioned lack of a head coach in waiting, Denver doesn’t exactly have a future defensive coordinator ripe for the picking on the staff. At least when they fired Mike McCoy last season, they had a tailormade offensive coordinator waiting in the wings.
Another dead end.
This is where it gets a little more interesting. Quarterback is the one place where you have a clear backup plan, the young gunslinger, Chad Kelly. Kelly had a promising training camp and preseason in which he very-clearly outdueled Paxton Lynch, locking up the No. 2 QB job and sending Lynch to the streets.
Kelly also had a very promising college career, has put a ton of work into his body and also appears to have put his maturity issues behind him.
With all of that being said, there is still a big roadblock for the second-year signal-caller. This coaching staff, a staff that is hanging onto their jobs by a thread, is at practice every single day. They see Chad Kelly every day, and they see Case Keenum every day, and with that information in hand, they have decided every week, despite his struggles, that Keenum is the better option.
In the eyes of this staff, Keenum gives them the best chance to win games and seeing as they desperately need to win games, they can’t help but to roll with the guy who shows himself to be the better option based on their knowledge.
Now, here’s where the first 600+ words in this story could go up in flames. There comes a point for every team and every coaching staff where you’re so desperate that you just start pulling levers all over the place to see what happens when you do. Maybe it’s the GM firing the coach, maybe it’s the coach firing an assistant or benching the starting quarterback. Eventually, even though it usually comes long after the fans want it, the team gets to a point where they’re willing to throw caution to the wind and just create change for the sake of it.
The only problem with that is that it rarely creates any sort of positive change. The Broncos bringing in Tim Tebow—who was a first-round pick, mind you—digging themselves out of that hole and backing into the playoffs was a once-in-a-lifetime scenario. Nine times out of ten, a bad team making a desperate move is still a bad team.
The Broncos may be on the verge of making a desperate move, but just keep in mind the level-headed words of the man in charge, “I wish at this point in time we had the magic switch that we could switch that magic switch and fix this thing, but once you get in the season there’s not a lot of fixes to it.”
They may end up turning over every rock, but in the end, there is no magic switch.