ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- The Denver Broncos will not be able to avoid their first losing season of the John Elway era as general manager. That was assured with last week's 35-9 loss at Miami.
They will finish the regular season with Vance Joseph as their head coach. During his weekly radio interview with KDSP-AM 760 on Tuesday, Elway said that he would not make any coaching changes prior to the end of the campaign.
"We're going to finish the season out," Elway said.
What the future beyond Dec. 31 holds is anyone's guess, and is likely predicated on whether the Broncos can generate some positive momentum -- and victories -- from a closing four-game stretch against a modest quartet of teams, none of whom has a winning record through 12 games.
Of course, the Broncos have faced some pedestrian teams during their longest losing streak in 50 years. The eight-game skid began with a desultory 23-10 loss to the then-winless Giants, and included defeats against the Chargers, Chiefs, Bengals, Raiders and Dolphins, none of whom is better than .500.
The lack of quality of most of the teams that beat the Broncos in recent weeks is bad enough. But it's the lack of competitiveness in most of the games during the eight-game skid that rankles Elway the most. Seven of the eight losses were by double-digit margins, including four by 20 or more points. In only one of those games did the Broncos have the football in the fourth quarter with a one-score deficit.
"Losing obviously is one thing, but I think the way that we've lost has been the most frustrating thing," Elway said. "The expectations for us, whether we win or lose, is to get out there and compete and continue to get better about how we respond to mistakes that we make and stay competitive for 60 minutes.
"For us to lose eight in a row, and I think we've lost six of those eight by more than 10 points -- that's not competitive football and we've got enough good football players on this team that that should not be happening."
But it has.
"I'd like to get us competitive," Elway said. "With the way that we've turned the ball over and we've been out of football games and that's the most disappointing thing."
Still, the Broncos haven't really been competitive in a calendar year. They went 1-3 down the stretch of the 2016 season to finish 9-7 after an 8-4 start, which gives them a 4-12 record in their last 16 games.
The Broncos' defense remains a top-five unit, but their offense has become a disaster, and has now gone 10 consecutive games without accounting for at least 20 points.
"This has been a tough year," Elway said. "It's not what the Broncos are about. I'm embarrassed about it, the fact that this has happened, and will do my part to hopefully get this thing turned around next year, and the expectations of Broncos fans should be for us to get this turned around. That is fair.
"But before we get that done, we're going to take pride in what we do and finish this season as strong as we possibly can."
SERIES HISTORY: 35th regular-season meeting. Broncos lead series, 18-15-1. Broncos have won four of the last five. Most historic meeting between these two teams was on Jan. 17, 1999, when the Broncos defeated the Jets 23-10 in the AFC Championship Game in what would prove to be John Elway's final home game as a player.
--One defining trait of the Broncos' eight-game losing streak has been how quickly their plans have unraveled, particularly on offense. One play goes askew, and it seems their entire offense comes apart.
That happened again last Sunday in Miami, when the Broncos began with a promising drive, but saw it end when a Trevor Siemian pass bounced off the hands of Emmanuel Sanders and into the grasp of Miami's T.J. McDonald for an interception.
One bad play seems to lead to others, in part because the offense seems to force it after falling into trouble.
"When things aren't going well, you want to make a play," Siemian said. "You want to do something. You want to fit a ball in. You want to make sure you don't miss a play and that's when bad things happen. For me, I just go back to feeling the flow of the game and not trying to do too much."
That requires changing the mindset, which can be a difficult task. The Broncos know what they want their mindset to be.
Said Siemian, "I think one is a mindset not to tell ourselves, 'Here we go again. Here is another tipped interception. Here is another muffed punt. Here is another defensive touchdown.' I guess that is the mindset, move on and go to the next play. Everyone continue to do their job consistently at a high level."
--Denver will finish the regular season without defensive end Derek Wolfe, who was placed on injured reserve Tuesday because of a neck injury, but he will not need surgery -- just two months of rest and recovery.
"Bounce back coming," Wolfe tweeted Tuesday.
According to a report from KUSA-Ch. 9, Wolfe has a form of spinal stenosis and multiple sprained joints in his neck. Wolfe learned of these from an appointment with spinal surgeon Dr. Robert Watkins, who also performed spinal-fusion surgery on Peyton Manning in 2011.
"He has the entire offseason to get right, so we'll see where we are with that," Broncos head coach Vance Joseph said.
Shelby Harris will start in his place on the defensive line for the rest of the season.
NOTES: QB Paxton Lynch will miss another one to three weeks because of a high-ankle sprain suffered in Week 12 at Oakland. Trevor Siemian will continue to start in his place. ... NT Domata Peko did not practice Wednesday because of a sprained MCL. Peko did not play against Miami because of the injury and has not practiced at all since suffering it against Oakland on Nov. 26. ... ILB Joe Jones missed Wednesday's practice because of an Achilles injury, but the special-teams player is expected to play Sunday. ... WR Demaryius Thomas needs a late-season surge to secure his sixth consecutive 1,000-yard receiving season. Thomas leads the Broncos with 651 yards on 58 receptions and is currently on pace for 868 yards. ... RB C.J. Anderson has run for 652 yards through 12 games, putting him on pace for 869 yards. Anderson would need to average 87 rushing yards per game the rest of the season to finish with 1,000 yards for the first time.