Photo credit: Ed Zurga/AP

The Broncos started the season 3-1 and looked decent while doing it. But Week 6, after the bye week, brought an embarrassing loss to the Giants, and things have somehow gotten worse since then. Yesterday’s 20-17 loss to the Bengals has them at 3-7 and in last place in the AFC West.

If the Broncos were looking for a season-saving win, yesterday’s game was probably their last shot. General Manager John Elway seemed to be trying to set it up as such, when he motivated(?) his team by calling them “soft” at an event last Friday.

The motivation didn’t stick, and the Broncos let go of a very winnable game. The defense, which has still been solid this season, held the Bengals in check for most of the game, but Denver’s offense only managed to put together five drives that lasted longer than six plays. A C.J. Anderson fumble late in the fourth quarter set the Bengals up to take a 20-10 lead, but the Broncos came back and scored a touchdown on the next drive. The defense stoned the Bengals to get the ball back, and the offense took over with just under two minutes left and a chance at winning the game. Brock Osweiler could only manage three incomplete passes and a sack, and that was that.

The players were not in great shape afterwards, particularly Anderson, who fought back tears while discussing his fumble with reporters:

The rest of the team, including head coach Vance Joseph, had to answer questions about Elway’s “soft” comment. Joseph and Von Miller agreed with Elway’s assessment through gritted teeth, but cornerback Chris Harris made sure to subtly remind everyone that there is plenty of blame to go around (via ESPN):

“Everybody in this organization is accountable for how we’re playing right now,’’ Harris said. “Ain’t nothing soft in my bones.”

Harris is right, and if there’s anyone who deserves to have this season laid at his feet, it’s Elway. From the moment Peyton Manning arrived in Denver in 2012, it was clear that lining up a competent heir was one of Elway’s most important tasks. The team was (and mostly still is) flush with talent at the skill positions and on defense, and it was easy to imagine them continuing to succeed with a good quarterback plugged into the offense in place of Manning.

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Despite having all those years to prepare for the post-Manning era, Elway sent the team into this season relying on Trevor Siemian and Paxton Lynch. When that plan didn’t work out, he went and got Brock Fucking Osweiler, who is completing just 53 percent of his passes this season.

The Broncos went 12-4 and won the Super Bowl just two seasons ago, and there are all sorts of ways to explain the fact that they are now 3-7 and very likely to miss the playoffs. But the biggest reason is the most obvious one: They don’t have a decent quarterback, and the blame for that rests entirely with Elway.

So pity Mike McCoy, who helped turn Tim Tebow into a viable NFL quarterback as the Broncos’ offensive coordinator in 2011, went on to be the head coach in San Diego for three seasons, and was re-hired as a coordinator by the Broncos less than a year ago. He got shitcanned today:

Sure, that will fix things.