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Next-Day Notebook: Broncos could look to 'narrow' down focus

Posted Nov 13, 2017

In order to play a "cleaner brand of football," Head Coach Vance Joseph said Monday the team might have to "scale it back."

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- Simplicity may be the watchword in the short-term future for the Broncos.

After a fifth consecutive loss in which self-inflicted wounds played a key role in the Broncos' demise, Head Coach Vance Joseph said that the Broncos will have to "narrow it down" to try and avoid the miscues that have helped put the Broncos behind early in each of their last five losses.

During their current losing streak, the Broncos have gone into halftime with deficits of 14, 14, 14, 22 and 18 points. Nine of their 15 turnovers in those five games have come in the first half, including Isaiah McKenzie's first-quarter muffed punt that set up New England's first touchdown two plays later early in Sunday's 41-16 defeat.

"We have to find a formula that helps us win," Joseph said. "When you're game-planning for an opponent, you can sometimes have so many answers that it costs you somewhere else.

"We’re making too many small mistakes within the game plans. Sometimes you have to scale it back and not have so many answers, but play a cleaner brand of football."

Getting to that point could necessitate some changes in on-field responsibilities to reduce the risk of costly mistakes. McKenzie's struggles have been amplified by the fact that his two lost fumbles in the last three games have led directly to 10 points.

“He has five fumbles in 28 attempts, but he’s also top-10 in [punt] return yards," Joseph said. "With that being said, that goes back to my first point about our football team. We have to figure out how to minimize those huge errors and play a cleaner brand of football."

That goal could lead to a change on punt returns and placing possession ahead of the potential for a breakaway return.

"If that means having someone go in, just getting the ball caught and possessing the ball after a defensive stop -- if it happens, it happens," Joseph said.

DESPITE THE SPECIAL-TEAMS ISSUES over the last several weeks that peaked Sunday night with a series of miscues that led to 24 Patriots points, Joseph said that he still has confidence in Special Teams Coordinator Brock Olivo.

“I do, and here’s why,” Joseph said. "I’m in his meetings every day and he’s a detailed guy. He goes over those guys’ assignments over and over again. Lots of energy, he’s a very bright guy and he’s learned a guy who’s the best in the entire league (Chiefs Special Teams Coordinator Dave Toub).

"I watch him work every day and the mistakes that we’ve had -- Brock’s responsible and I’m responsible -- but he hasn’t muffed a punt. I watch him work with our returners every day before, after and during practice. I work with the returners also, so I know what’s being taught there. I’m not down on Brock.

"That game yesterday was bad for us as far as the [special] teams. We had ... four errors that lead to 24 points, but I’m fine with Brock. Brock works hard, he’s a young coach and he’s a bright coach. He’s going to be a great coach, in my opinion."

AT RIGHT TACKLE, Allen Barbre had a "very solid" game working in place of the injured Menelik Watson, but whether Barbre makes his third start of the season at right tackle could depend on the recovery of Donald Stephenson from a calf injury that has sidelined him for the last four games.

"We should get Stephenson back and see where we are," Joseph said. "But I’m not sure who is going to start next week."

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