Inside Slant

The Sports Xchange

December 27, 2018 at 1:43 am.

Another poor season could cost Joseph his job

The final game of the season could be a rough one for the Denver Broncos. Not only are they 6-9 and not playing for anything, the Los Angeles Chargers have a chance to claim the No. 1 seed in the AFC with a win and a Kansas City loss. Then there’s the revenge factor. Denver went into Los Angeles last month and beat the Chargers on a last-second field goal to end their six-game winning streak. That win gave the Broncos life in the playoff race but they’ve lost three in a row to teams with losing records and are now just playing out the string.

Add to that the mounting injuries, which include two offensive linemen, the best cover cornerback and the top receiver and rusher, and the last game of 2018 might get ugly for Denver. But the Broncos have vowed not to quit despite not having anything to play for other than pride.

Head coach Vance Joseph, who is likely manning the sidelines for the last time, has praised his team’s effort throughout the season. What has become abundantly clear is the roster lacks depth. The loss of Chris Harris Jr. has exposed the thin secondary, the trade of Demaryius Thomas and the season-ending injury to Emmanuel Sanders put pressure on an inexperienced receiving corps, and the middling play of quarterback Case Keenum has not been enough to carry this team. Changes will be made and fingers pointed in the days after Sunday’s game against the Chargers.

Joseph will likely be the fall guy, although general manager John Elway hasn’t given him a roster to meet expectations of a Super Bowl contender. Joseph has had some issues with game management, from bad penalties to curious uses of the coach’s challenge on key plays, but he hasn’t had much to work with. Denver has some solid pieces to build upon for the future, but in hindsight this wasn’t a team that could seriously challenge for the AFC West or even a playoff spot.

The Broncos, who many thought would return to the playoffs with Keenum’s signing this summer, are relegated to a spoiler role. It’s not a role they are used to, but it’s the reality of the moment. And it will mean big changes this offseason.

SERIES HISTORY: 118th regular-season meeting. Broncos lead series, 65-51-1. The Broncos have dominated the series at home, going 40-17-1 against the Chargers. Denver has gotten the better of the matchup in recent years. Since the Chargers won four straight from 2009-11 the Broncos have won 12 of 15 in the series, including a 23-22 win in Los Angeles on Nov. 18 that began a three-game winning streak for Denver.