DENVER — The blame game is the only game the Denver Broncos are good at right now.
"You're never going to win an NFL game if you give up 24 points on special teams," safety Justin Simmons said after the team's latest blowout loss, this time a 41-16 drubbing at the hands of the New England Patriots.
"We just gotta be better on special teams, they outplayed us in that area," Chris Harris Jr. chimed in.
The Broncos were flat out awful on special teams. Embarrassingly bad. Shockingly inept. But you know who will be the first one to admit that? Special teams coordinator Brock Olivo, who falls on the sword every single week for the mind-boggling mistakes of his players. If anyone learns anything from Olivo before he is inevitably shown the door, it should be that.
Instead of pointing fingers outwards, maybe the defense could point one directly into the mirror. They were dealt some tough hands, but they also allowed the Patriots to become the first team in the last two seasons to score on seven consecutive drives. Included in those seven drives was a 75-yard drive to end the half, bringing a manageable 11-point deficit all the way to 18.
Then, when Brock Osweiler led the offense on a drive right out of the half to cut it back to 11, the Patriots once again went 75-yards to open things back up. Special teams played no part in those two daggers.
Harris was asked directly about those two scores.
"We have to play better, we have to figure out how to get stops, crucial stops," he began, before shifting right back to special teams. "I mean we get a stop and then we have 12 men on the field. Things like that, we can't beat ourselves."
The score was 34-16 when the 12-men penalty occurred.
"We definitely hurt ourselves more on special teams than defense," Simmons explained.
The Broncos have been reduced to talking about who and what hurt the team most.
"It's like we're a whole new f*ckin' team," Derek Wolfe said in a frustrated locker room. "It's embarrassing... It's sad. It's sad that we went from being a championship-caliber team to a team that stinks and nobody respects."
Who is to blame there? Many of those looking from the outside in would point to coaching, namely Vance Joseph, the one in charge of a team of coaches that aren't getting it done right now.
In his post-game press conference, Joseph did not explicitly shoulder the blame, instead pointing to all three phases as areas that need to improve.
Then, when pressed directly on potentially making changes to his coaching staff before the end of the season, Joseph stated, "It's on all of us," before adding, "We have to coach better and play better."
The Broncos have an offense that can't score touchdowns, a defense that can't currently stop touchdowns and a coaching staff that just can't seem to figure out why. To blame the special teams is like blaming the rain for the hurricane. It's a part of the whole equation, but even heavy rain won't sink the ship.
The S.S. Orange & Blue has capsized.
"The bottom line is we stink right now," Wolfe said appropriately. "We're not a good football team."
Only the Cleveland Browns, San Francisco 49ers and New York Giants have fewer wins than the Denver Broncos. Let that sink in.
Blame should be treated like a Thanksgiving dish right now, take your helping and pass it on. Everybody gets a slice. Eat up.