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Broncos' Joseph faces critical stretch of the season

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Broncos coach Vance Joseph faces a critical stretch of the season that will be monitored closely by upper management, sources say.

Mired in a three-game losing streak -- though one was a near-miss against the high-powered Chiefs -- it's clear the results have to change.

After the 2017 season, Joseph's job status was an open question before he returned. The hope is to avoid a similar situation going into all-important games against the Rams, Cardinals, Chiefs and Texans before the bye week.

With the idea of nipping the free-fall in the bud, Joseph has made some changes.

While defensive coordinator Joe Woods will remain the primary play-caller, Joseph will take more of an active, hands-on roll for a unit that flailed during an ugly loss to the Jets and is currently ranked 26th in total yards allowed.

As the microscope comes, Joseph will make sure he has his fingerprints on the unit.

The practice week saw some tweaks, too, as there was more time in meetings and comparatively less time spent in on-field work. And there is expected to be at least one lineup change, with guard Max Garcia likely replacing Connor McGovern thanks to a rough performance against the Jets.

The week also saw cornerback Bradley Roby fail to show up on time Monday because of illness, though he was fined because he did not follow protocol as it relates to communication. Not ideal.

As far as Joseph, he preached a heightened sense of urgency this week and the players felt it. They held several players-only meetings aimed at turning it around.

Broncos CEO Joe Ellis offered some somewhat neutral comments on the team and Joseph this week after a local Habitat for Humanity event Thursday. He gave support, but not a vote of confidence.

"I'm not concerned about spiraling downhill," Ellis told reporters. "I'm looking forward to us bouncing back this weekend. That's where our focus is. I believe we'll be ready for the Rams on Sunday."

The team lost eight straight last year and Ellis' point was he hoped the team has learned how to turn it around.

"They know what needs to be done to fix it," Ellis said, "and move forward and try to improve and get better and play some good football for the remaining 11 games. We're all pulling for (Joseph) and supporting him and we'll see where this goes."

Follow Ian Rapoport on Twitter @RapSheet.

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