"We hear everything," safety Will Parks said after a 23-0 win over the New York Jets.
They hear that Vance Joseph may be on the hot seat, they hear that the team could be heading for a major rebuild, they hear which players are being put on the proverbial chopping block. They hear it.
"We don't want the whole team to get blown up," linebacker Brandon Marshall said. "Nobody wants that. It was headed that way, and it's still headed that way if we don't win. I think we just need to keep winning so people can keep their jobs."
Now sitting at 4-9, the Broncos have been officially eliminated from the playoffs. They've seen rock bottom. They only thing they truly have to play for is the person next to them. They're playing so that their locker can still be next to the guy that they hoisted the Lombardi trophy with, or the guy they suffered through their rookie training camp with.
They're playing for a coach who—contrary to popular belief—they believe in.
"I hope he stays here, man," Parks said in reference to questions about Vance Joseph's job security. "He's probably one of the best coaches I've had playing football.... That's exactly what this was—win for 'VJ' and win one for each other, man."
"If we keep winning, everybody will keep their jobs, hopefully," Marshall added. "I think if we finish 7-9, man, everybody can keep their job, hopefully."
There's an interesting dynamic going on here. Everybody has their eyes on next season, but all for different reasons. The players are playing to have a job here next season; the coaches are doing the same. The front office is using this time to evaluate who will be here next season. The fans are just hoping the team will be good again next season.
One thing is for sure, nobody wants to hear that dreaded 'R-word.'
"It'd be tough, man," Marshall said regarding the idea of a rebuild. "It's not like we could just say, 'I don't wanna be here.' I guess you could say that, but I don't know if anybody would do that. This is a great team, a great organization. It'd be tough to be a part of a rebuild, but I think guys want to be here."
"It's imperative that we win these next three games so everybody can be here next year."
With an eight-game monkey finally off of their backs, the sky halted its free fall, and the tone in the locker room took a 90-degree turn. These guys want to be here, they want the guy next to them to be here, and they want their coach to be here, too.