ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — He has asked people to pause to enjoy the grandeur of a Colorado cloud, thanked innumerable people for his current opportunity and recited poetry to make a point.
But in a two-week run as the Denver Broncos’ interim coach, Jerry Rosburg has also put the team in pads for a practice, fired two assistant coaches, stressed fundamentals and essentially stuck to a mantra of “I’m doing whatever I want .”
The Broncos (4-12) fired Nathaniel Hackett on Dec. 26, the day after the 51-14 loss against the Los Angeles Rams that featured all manner of on-field errors, sideline blowups and was punctuated by outside linebacker Randy Gregory throwing a punch at a Rams player Oday Aboushi at the end of the game .
Owner/CEO Greg Penner has since apologized to fans, stated his terse desire for “accountability” and said “we need to put a better product on the field.”
After discussions with multiple coaches about the interim role, including defensive coordinator Ejiro Evero, the 67-year-old Rosburg was chosen for the two-week run.
“I thought he was very detailed in his communication from the day he stepped in,” said quarterback Russell Wilson. “ … Tremendous gratitude, tremendous grace and humility.”
Linebacker Josey Jewell said “he was to the point, very to the point.”
Although the Broncos and Rosburg lost to the Kansas City Chiefs 27-24 on Sunday, Denver stiffly competed with an AFC heavyweight six days after Hackett had been fired.
But yet a seven-year playoff drought continues and Rosburg’s goal remains to help repair the Broncos’ foundation with a win. With just a few days left in the regular season, the Broncos hope to close out at home against the Los Angeles Chargers.
If the Broncos don’t win, they’ll be winless against the AFC West for the first time since the 1982 strike-shortened season.
“I want these guys, these families, and these fans to experience winning is its own reward,” Rosburg said. “We can talk about the streaks and negative things, but I’m not trying to end any negative streak. I’m not going to go tell these guys, ‘well, don’t lose again.’ That’s silly.”
Either way, the Broncos will intensify their search for a new head coach in the days and weeks ahead. Rosburg will officially have coached the fewest games in franchise history.
Asked earlier the week how he thought he had fared, Rosburg simply said:
“I thought overall I made some decisions that I would reconsider. I guess that’s the best way to say that. Overall, to your point, I felt that was where I belonged quite frankly.”