ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- One of the most cherished things about Pat Bowlen's ownership tenure with the Denver Broncos is that they have reached more Super Bowls (seven) than had losing seasons (five).
That losing season total, however, will move to six once this troubled football year officially goes in the books. The Broncos are 3-9 with an eight-game losing streak, the team's longest since 1967, or 16 years before John Elway was a rookie quarterback.
So the city, the region, those who work in the Broncos' building and all of the families involved, are all in one big funk with first-year Broncos coach Vance Joseph feeling the brunt of it.
"We get it," Joseph said Monday. "We get it, it's been hard, the fans, the city, you guys, us, our families, it's been hard, we get it. But we have to continue to go to work and make something positive."
Joseph is 12 games into his first season on the job and in Bowlen's tenure the team has never fired a head coach after just one season -- Wade Phillips had two seasons and Josh McDaniels has just under two seasons. But with the Broncos' seemingly growing struggles since their 3-1 start -- they've lost nine of the last 10 -- the question about Joseph's future has become the hottest of topics in the local social media world as well as in drive time.
"I'm not concerned about that," Joseph said. "I'm concerned about one thing and that's the Jets on Sunday. I've been in the league a long time, I'm not concerned about that."
In his last public comments, outside of weekly appearances on the team's website or on a radio station the team has an ownership stake in, Elway has offered support of Joseph.
Two days before the Broncos' Nov. 19 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals, Elway was asked if his confidence in Joseph had wavered, and he said:
"Nope. You know there's going to be growing pains in the head coach, and especially the first-time head coach, as well as we've got a lot of youth on the staff when it comes to coordinators, too, so there's growing pains there. Just like with players you've got to give them a chance to grow and get better and learn from certain situations. Obviously, it's been a little bit tougher situation, but sometimes you learn a lot more in tougher situations than you do when things are going good. So Vance in my mind is doing just fine and continuing to get these guys to fight hard and the energy is still there, so we'll work our way through it."
The Broncos have since fired offensive coordinator Mike McCoy and promoted Bill Musgrave to interim offensive coordinator. The Broncos players, however, especially high-profile players like linebacker Von Miller, wide receiver Demaryius Thomas and linebacker Brandon Marshall, have consistently publicly supported Joseph through the losing streak.
After Sunday's 35-9 loss to the Miami Dolphins, Miller went as far as to say:
"100 percent. He's our coach. Just not putting wins on the board. It's -- I don't know -- it's everything is going wrong for us. Coach, it's been all over the place. If we could level out for him we would make his job easier as well. We have all types of situations, all types of problems going on. He's doing the absolute best that he can do with everything that is going on.”
Monday, Joseph said he continues to meet with Elway daily to discuss a variety of issues, including personnel.
"It's been great, we talked for an hour (Monday) morning," Joseph said. "Just talking about how to improve it, how to make it better. We're both disappointed in the season, how it's gone, it's our job to fix it."
Asked for specifics of those conversations, Joseph termed them as private, but added "talking football, talking personnel."
Joseph has also been asked about his coaching staff and whether or not more change, beyond firing McCoy with two years remaining on his contract, will be seen on the staff in the offseason.
"When you're losing football games, everything gets magnified," Joseph said. "I'm not surprised [about the questions]. I get that, we have a good staff, I trust our staff, our staff is full of guys who've won a lot of games in this league," Joseph said. "That's the proof we have a good staff. Now, we've lost eight games in a row, it hasn't been good enough so I can't defend those comments. I know what we're teaching each week, I watch the meetings, I watch the coaching, I'll disagree with [the criticism]. Obviously it's a bottom line business, it's a win or loss business. We've lost and I'll take it all."