Denver Broncos: Failure against Browns likely to cost people jobs

DENVER, CO - DECEMBER 15: Head coach Vance Joseph of the Denver Broncos stands on the field before a game against the Cleveland Browns at Broncos Stadium at Mile High on December 15, 2018 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)
DENVER, CO - DECEMBER 15: Head coach Vance Joseph of the Denver Broncos stands on the field before a game against the Cleveland Browns at Broncos Stadium at Mile High on December 15, 2018 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images) /

The Denver Broncos failed to win a home game against the Cleveland Browns. This loss will likely cost a number of people their jobs.

The Denver Broncos lost a regular season home game to the Cleveland Browns when only giving up 17 points, and now heads will start to roll.

The Broncos’ loss to Cleveland hurts on a number of levels, but the lack of aggressiveness at the end of the game by Denver ended up costing them significantly, and they couldn’t mount a comeback on the last drive of the game.

How did it happen?

The Broncos looked awful at the start of the game, going backwards on their first drive and giving up a touchdown to the Browns on their first drive of the game.

It was a horrendous start for Denver and not what the team needed out of the gates, but they responded with a nice touchdown drive of their own and ended up actually taking a 10-7 lead.

The Browns struck back with a field goal of their own, and each team traded turnovers as Case Keenum threw an interception in the end zone and Baker Mayfield followed suit. Each team was matching almost exactly blow for blow in this game.

Coming out of halftime, the Browns had a nearly nine-minute drive that ended with no points as Adam Gotsis, one of the best players of the game for Denver, came up with a huge strip-sack of Baker Mayfield, setting up the Broncos with good field position.

The Broncos ended up taking a 13-10 lead on a Brandon McManus field goal, and appeared in control of the game into the fourth quarter when Von Miller broke the team’s all-time sack record, setting up the offense with the ball and a three-point lead.

On the first play from scrimmage following the Browns’ punt, Keenum lofted up one of the worst interceptions he’s had on the season, and the Browns were in business ahead of midfield.

They ended up putting together a nice drive and scoring a touchdown, ultimately, taking a 17-13 lead.

The Broncos responded yet again with a solid drive of their own and set up inside the Browns’ 10-yard line needing a touchdown. As the clock ticked away, the Broncos ended up with a 4th-and-1 inside the 10, and Vance Joseph opted to kick a field goal instead of going for a touchdown.

The Broncos trusted their defense to get a stop and they eventually did, but not before the Browns took two minutes off the clock and years off every fan’s life with a fourth-down stop to take the ball away, again Adam Gotsis coming up with the big play.

Denver’s drive stalled at midfield as two all-out blitzes from the Browns forced a throw away from Keenum followed by a game-ending sack on fourth down.

What happens next?

This is incredibly disappointing. I’m not sure what would have happened if the Broncos had found a way to win this game, but they failed and there are a number of things that contributed to the loss, but the offensive gameplan fizzled in the second half, Keenum’s shots downfield this week were ill-advised, and the coach’s decision to kick a field goal with less than five minutes remaining in the fourth quarter on 4th-and-1 inside the 10 yard line is mind-boggling.

With eight losses again this season, the Broncos face the unfortunate reality of making wholesale changes at the end of the year.

This team has suffered through a number of significant injuries, and specifically in this game was playing with Justin Simmons and a bunch of safeties at cornerback along with Tramaine Brock.

The number of injuries the Broncos have had to deal with is something out of Vance Joseph’s control, but there are certain things during the course of the game he can control, like going for it on 4th-and-1. If you trust the defense, why not try to gain another yard?

The Broncos went for it so much on fourth down against the 49ers, showing their desperation, and obviously, they weren’t within four points, but that’s not the type of decision that wins games in the NFL.

Joseph was right to trust the defense, but he should have trusted the defense by asking his offense to gain two yards and go win the game.

It’s hard to believe the Broncos wouldn’t make wholesale changes after looking back on this season, the opportunities missed, and the decisions that led to those missed opportunities. Many players wear t-shirts during the week that say “Accountability” on them, and someone’s got to be held accountable for all of these injuries.

The Broncos’ $36 million quarterback isn’t making enough plays to put this team over the top. The team is constantly falling one step short. Why does that happen? It appears as though the roster has enough pieces on it — even with the injuries — to be able to win games like this against teams who are also dealing with injuries.

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This type of play is simply not tolerable in Denver, so we’ll see what the repercussions of this loss and the 11-19 record overall in the first 30 games are.