ENGLEWOOD, Colo. —** After two consecutive wins against the Jets and Colts, Head Coach Vance Joseph couldn't help but feel that the victories were a bit bittersweet.
The Broncos had finally began playing the kind of game he had long said would be key to wins — limiting turnovers on offense while letting the defense control the game — and though it has paid off, it's too little, too late for fighting for a playoff spot.
Go inside the visiting locker room in Indianapolis following the Broncos' 25-13 win over the Colts. (Photos: Gabriel Christus)
"It is bittersweet for me because it’s what we’ve coached and preached the entire season," Joseph said. "To finally see it the last two weeks, it’s good, but it could’ve been six weeks ago, seven weeks ago. It’s bittersweet, but I’m happy for the players. No one stopped working and no one stopped believing. Even to win two games in five days and play a Thursday night game—out of the playoffs, guys are sore, but guys pushed through. Everyone embraced the Thursday night game and it was a good night for us. That was fun to see the guys play so hard."
The key, of course, has been restraining their giveaways. In the past two games, the Broncos have only had one turnover. During the eight-game losing streak, Denver averaged 2.6 per game.
"The last two weeks we haven’t turned the ball over at a high rate," Joseph said. "We had one last night and we overcame that. I truly think how [Offensive Coordinator] Billy [Musgrave] has called the game for the quarterback has minimized mistakes and has minimized the ball being batted around. Miami didn’t speak to that, but last weekend and Thursday did. I think he’s done a good job.
"Defensively, if it’s an even game or if we’re ahead, this defense can be dominant. Again, it’s bittersweet because our formula was to run the ball, not turn the ball over and play dominant defense. It’s happened the last two weeks. I think it’s simple, not giving the ball away and playing to our strengths as a football team. That’s what’s happened the last two weeks."
Broncos were ready for emergency QB situation
Wide receiver Jordan Taylor was ready once again to play quarterback for the Broncos if an emergency arose.
Previously Taylor had prepared to play quarterback in Denver's preseason finale after Paxton Lynch suffered a shoulder injury, leaving Kyle Sloter as the only available quarterback because the team didn't want to risk injury to starting QB Trevor Siemian.
He once again had to ready himself on Sunday, this time because of an injury to Siemian. With Lynch inactive and Siemian hurt, Taylor was the only option to back up Brock Osweiler.
"He was prepared," Joseph said. "We had a package of a couple wildcat runs for [RB] C.J. [Anderson] and [RB Devontae] Booker. We have a plan at emergency quarterback. Jordan was our emergency safety last week. He’s done a lot for our football team. He’s a smart guy. I trust Jordan. But yes, that was real.
"We have some toss plays for him. We have some quick game that we’ve taught Jordan over the last couple of months. So, he is our emergency quarterback. We won’t bring a guy in to be our third. It’s going to be Jordan on game day if we lose two guys. He’s in, along with C.J. and those guys with wildcat runs."
Taylor last played quarterback in a primary role at Denison High School in Texas. The dual-threat QB threw for 2,472 yards, 27 touchdowns and seven interceptions while running for 1,356 yards and 23 touchdowns in his senior year.
'Something good is happening here'
Though this kind of year has of course not been what he has hoped for, Joseph wanted to make sure people know the two consecutive wins have meaning for the Broncos.
"My message would simply be something good is happening here," Joseph said. "The more we figure out our formula to win, it’s going to be better for us here. I’ve been proud of the players for how engaged they’ve been and how hard they’ve worked. We have a good team. We have a good locker room. It’s not perfect. We have to fix some things in the offseason, but it’s a special group of people here. It’s going to get fixed. I promise."