Vance Joseph doesn't want players 'just checking boxes' to close season

"Whatever the record might be, whatever games we have left. It's always something to play for," said Von Miller. Chris Trotman/Getty Images

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- The Denver Broncos have four more chances to prove their words still mean something.

The Broncos have lost eight games in a row, nine of their last 10, and by some metrics, including Football Outsiders, they currently grade out as the worst team in the NFL. It is the kind of stretch that's unfamiliar to players, coaches and decision-makers alike.

Players such as Demaryius Thomas, Von Miller and C.J. Anderson say the Broncos haven't surrendered. Coach Vance Joseph told his reeling team Monday he would be on the lookout for anything that looked like going through the motions.

"We don't want to just survive this next month," Joseph said. "We want to push forward, keep working, keep studying, keep pushing details. And trying to win football games, we don't want guys just showing up to work and just checking boxes."

The only boxes the Broncos (3-9) have checked of late have mostly had to do with turnovers, mistakes and losses. Their four remaining games are against the New York Jets (5-7), the Indianapolis Colts (3-9), the Washington Redskins (5-7) and the Kansas City Chiefs (6-6).

Ordinarily the Broncos would look at a slate like that and see no teams with a winning record. But these are no ordinary times and the Broncos are fighting themselves these day as much as anything else -- "we can't seem to do the things we need to do and know how to do,'' is how Thomas put it.

Especially when they trail in games, which has been often over the last two months. With Sunday's 35-9 loss to the Miami Dolphins, the Broncos are now 0-6 when they trail after one quarter, 0-8 when they trail at halftime and 0-9 when they trail after the third quarter. So, the Broncos are getting asked plenty -- Monday included -- about effort in what is a lost season.

"Everybody had their individual mindset to go out there, and not give up, and play, and do the best they can possibly do and try to take their game to the next level and keep working, we would be OK with that," Miller said. "It's the pros. I'm not even worried about guys giving up or anything like that. We got a family to feed. It's always something. It's always something to play for. Whatever the record might be, whatever games we have left. It's always something to play for."

Joseph said he continues to see effort in the wreckage and was asked Monday if he saw players downshift as the score got more and more lopsided Sunday in South Florida.

"I don't believe that at all," Joseph said. "If you watch our football games, I always watch last five to 10 plays, I show the guys those plays, I show the guys flying around, that's proof that guys are still playing to win. ... The guys we put on the field are trying to win football games and no one has given up."