John Elway says 'margin for error is very small,' calls Broncos defense 'soft'

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- With a four-game losing streak in hand, a pile of mistakes to go around, a meltdown of the team's run defense with a smattering of bad breaks, Denver Broncos president of football operations/general manager John Elway said Monday it is time to see a team "fighting for our lives'' Thursday night against the Arizona Cardinals.

The Broncos lost Sunday, 23-20 to the Los Angeles Rams, Denver's fourth consecutive loss since a 2-0 start. The Broncos continue to create plenty of their own troubles with penalties and turnovers that have cost them games, including penalties that cost the Broncos seven points Sunday as well as a Case Keenum interception deep in Rams territory that cost the Broncos at least another three points.

Elway, who labeled the team "soft" last November during what eventually became an eight-game losing streak, was asked on the team's radio partner, Orange and Blue 760, Monday afternoon about the team's current state of affairs.

"At some point in time we have to play better football ... we're still making the mistakes we shouldn't make to beat good football teams like the Rams,'' Elway said. " ...[It's] disappointing, that's for sure.''

Elway then later closed out the roughly eight-minute interview with "hopefully we can ... take a mentality into that Thursday night game where we're fighting for our lives.''

Moments later that prompted a question to coach Vance Joseph in his usual day-after-game media gathering if he took Elway's comment as Joseph having to fight for his job.

"Absolutely, absolutely," Joseph said. "That's every coach in this league every week. If you don't feel that way, you're missing something. So, if we were ... 5-1, I would feel that way. That doesn't motivate me, I'm already motivated to win games and fix our football team.''

Joseph also said Monday that "our margin for error is very small. We can't make the normal football mistakes. For example, Sunday our offense would have had 10 more points without the penalties ... right now, where we are, we cannot make mistakes."

Elway said the Broncos are going to dig themselves out of the current situation given "there isn't a magic switch, a magic answer'' and that "even though we've got a lot of players playing well, we're not playing well as a team."

Keenum is tied for the league lead in interceptions, with eight, and the Broncos defense is last in the league in run defense, allowing 161.3 yards rushing per game with 593 rushing yards allowed in the past two games combined (323 rushing yards by the Jets in Week 5 to go with 270 rushing yards by the Rams on Sunday).

"We've gotten very soft in there ... we're not playing very well inside," Elway said.