Here’s Why Coaching The Senior Bowl Is A Huge Win For Denver

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2018 Offers Denver Opportunity To Alter The Course Of The Franchise

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The Denver Broncos are a team close to being in full rebuild mode. The only reason I say ‘close’ is because the Broncos have multiple key personnel pieces on defense, and even a couple on the other side of the ball.

But Denver is missing the most important component to building a Championship-caliber team; the quarterback. GM John Elway is under no illusion that the Broncos dearth of talent at the QB position is holding the team back from evolving.

Fortunately, one of the collateral benefits of going 5-11 in 2017 is the opportunity for the entire Broncos staff to coach the Reese’s Senior Bowl. The Senior Bowl is a showcase of sorts, where eligible seniors looking to ply their wares at the next level get invited to compete and work under established NFL coaching staffs for a week.

“We jumped at the opportunity for the Broncos to work the Senior Bowl,” John Elway said. “On both the coaching and personnel sides, the experience gives us a chance to meet these prospects and get to know them on and off the field.”

A couple decades ago, the Senior Bowl wasn’t as important to an NFL prospect’s resume. Now, if you’re a senior, and unless you’ve distinguished yourself to be a clear first-rounder, passing on an invite to the Senior Bowl gets you negative attention and triggers the type of questions you don’t want heading into Draft season.

When a guy declines an invite, it tends to make teams/scouts and media believe that player is either afraid to compete, or he’s hiding something. Either way, it hurts Draft stock — unless your collegiate body of work has already made you a no-brainer first-round pick.

I’ve covered the Senior Bowl in person and it’s a phenomenal experience. Scouts, GMs and even coaches from all 32 teams descend on Mobile, AL, and for a working week, it’s nothing but football heaven.

For the Broncos, who currently hold the fifth overall pick in the 2018 Draft, coaching the Senior Bowl offers the team the rare opportunity at an inside look at a select group of senior prospects. Denver will coach the North team.

With Oklahoma QB Baker Mayfield accepting his Senior Bowl invite and landing on the North team, the Broncos coaching staff will get three intense days of practice with him. Bill Musgrave can teach Mayfield an overview of the Broncos offensive system, and see how he assimilates and learns it, and how quickly he can execute it.

The Senior Bowl will also give Vance Joseph and his staff an up close look and better understanding of these prospects’ personalities and what makes them tick. Some of the best players in the country will be in Mobile.

“The Senior Bowl provides our staff an up-close look at some of the top prospects in this year’s Draft,” Head Coach Vance Joseph said. “Having coached the Senior Bowl in the past, it’s a tremendous evaluation tool spending all week with these players in a variety of group and individual settings.

“From the meeting rooms to the practice field, the Senior Bowl experience lets us see how these prospects work and prepare in a competitive environment.”

For a storied team like the Denver Broncos, a top-five pick doesn’t come around too often. The pressure to ensure that they don’t squander it is immense.

The last time Denver earned a top-five pick, John Elway selected Von Miller, who went on to change the course of the franchise. Super Bowl 50 would not have been possible without Miller.

The stakes are high, and the Broncos will need every last scrap of information in order to make the right choice come Draft Day. Coaching the Senior Bowl is a phenomenal tool in helping them get a more complete picture of some of the best prospects entering the Draft.

Mile High Huddle will be in Mobile, covering each and every practice. Carl Dumler will be passing on all the buzz on what the Broncos are doing and which prospects are standing out.

Make sure you’re a MHH VIP subscriber so that you don’t miss anything that comes out of Mobile the week of January 23.

The Senior Bowl game itself (North vs. South) will be played on Saturday, January 27.

What’s next for the Broncos? Sign Up For Our FREE Broncos Newsletter — Get Every Story Delivered To Your Inbox Daily!

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The Denver Nuggets didn’t end December with a winning record, but it was an accomplishment they had a chance for that heading into the last game of the month.

That chance was a home game against the Philadelphia 76ers — minus Joel Embiid — and Denver came up flat down the stretch. The Nuggets finished 6-7 for December, with two home losses in the final two weeks in games in which they led by double digits in the second half.

There was some good that came out of that loss. Denver coach Michael Malone discovered the load he was putting on his shortened rotation had an effect. Players were exhausted in the fourth quarter against the Sixers, and Malone vowed to correct that.

"I own the fact that I have played 7-1/2 guys, and let’s be honest, it’s been pretty good to us," Malone told The Denver Post after Tuesday’s practice. "But after that Philly game, when you see how tired our guys are, I can’t continue to do that. I have to find a couple guys that I can use to spell our starters and our key players, so they’re just not dead."

Malone gets to put that new theory into practice when the Phoenix Suns are in town Wednesday night. The Suns are coming off a thrilling 104-103 comeback win against the lowly Atlanta Hawks.

Phoenix (15-24) is looking to the future while Denver has eyes on the postseason, but both teams have something in common — bright young players who have All-Star Game aspirations. Nuggets center Nikola Jokic is no longer a secret, earning praise from teams around the league for his court vision and playmaking ability. Malone has been campaigning hard for Jokic to be included on the Western Conference roster.

The Suns, on the other hand, have Devin Booker leading them, and he would cherish a chance to play in the All-Star Game. He acknowledges being on a winning team helps.

"I know wins matter in determining that," Booker told The Arizona Republic. "That’s been a goal of mine since I was a kid, to be an All-Star in this league. It means a lot. I never thought I’d be in this position this early."

Booker helped his cause with a heroic performance against the Hawks. He had 34 points — the third time in the last four games he has scored at least 32 — and hit three free throws with 12.3 seconds left to complete the Suns’ fourth-quarter rally for the win.

Booker is averaging 25.2 points, 4.5 rebounds and 4.3 assists per game. The 21-year-old guard has a 70-point game on his resume (last season, when he was 20) and his season high this year is 46.

In four games since missing nine with a left adductor strain Booker is averaging 31 points.

His supporting cast isn’t as strong as Jokic’s, which is why Denver (19-17) has a chance for the postseason. January will be a big push for the Nuggets. After having only five home games in December, they will play 10 of 15 at Pepsi Center, where they are 12-4.

Winning most of those home games is vital for a push to reach the postseason for the first time since 2012-13. Surviving December, with eight road games, was key to finishing the first part of the season with a winning record.

"We had a great start to the year, our best since 2011," guard Jamal Murray said after the loss to Philadelphia on Saturday. "December, and a few great months."

Copyright 2018 by STATS. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS is strictly prohibited.

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Here are the inactives for this afternoon’s season finale divisional matchup between the Denver Broncos and the Kansas City Chiefs at Sports Authority Field at Mile High.

The Broncos will be without wide receivers Emmanuel Sanders and Cody Latimer for today’s game. Look for Demaryius Thomas, Bennie Fowler, Jordan Taylor, and Isaiah McKenzie to be the Broncos receivers for today’s game. Not the greatest foursome for quarterback Paxton Lynch.

Also inactive for the Broncos is veteran running back Jamaal Charles against his former team. Look for C.J. Anderson and Devontae Booker to handle the majority of carries for the Broncos. We’ll also see some of rookie running back De’Angelo Henderson as well.

With Donald Stephenson inactive, veteran Alan Barbre and Cyrus Kounadjo will get looks at right tackle for the Broncos.

Here is a complete list of the Denver Broncos and Kansas City Chiefs inactives ahead of this afternoon’s season finale game.

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Right-handed reliever Wade Davis, who saved 32 games for the Chicago Cubs last season, has agreed to a deal with the Colorado Rockies, a source told ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick, confirming multiple reports.

Davis’s agreement is for 3 years, $52 million, a source told Crasnick. The contract includes a vesting player option that can increase the value to 4 years, $66 million if Davis finishes 30 games in 2020 and picks up his option, a source said.

Davis had a near perfect season as a closer in 2017, blowing a save opportunity for the first time late in September. He set a career high in saves while sporting a nifty 2.30 ERA.

Davis reached free agency after three solid years as a closer, two with Kansas City and the last with the Cubs. The former starter is often credited with still pitching with a starter’s mentality as he’ll use his breaking stuff to set up his fastball as much as the other way around.

Like many closers, he often walked a tightrope but rarely gave in. Also, like many top closers, he proved capable of going multiple innings in a playoff situation though sometimes with mixed results.

Davis’s agreement with the Rockies was first reported by Yahoo! Sports.

Information from ESPN’s Jesse Rogers was used in this report.

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LANDOVER, Md. — The tradition started a year ago, when Washington Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins’ wife packed him a gaudy, forest green Christmas suit. It featured gingerbread men and lights and candy canes. He donned it after a win in Chicago; he broke it out again Sunday after beating the Denver Broncos. An extra regular suit was packed, just in case.

“There aren’t many occasions you can wear this for,” Cousins said. “This is about the only place this will work. I really like it. They wanted me to show it off.”

Showing off — or possibly auditioning — is what Cousins has been doing the last two games in wins over Arizona and Denver. Both need a quarterback next season and are prime examples of what can go wrong without one.

Cousins threw for 299 yards, three touchdowns and an interceptions in the Redskins’ 27-11 win over Denver on Sunday. In the last two games, Cousins has thrown five touchdown passes and one interception. Cousins has proven who he is as a quarterback and it’s either good enough or it isn’t; they’re willing to hit a certain amount or they’re not.

"A lot of teams would literally kill to have a quarterback like that," Denver linebacker Von Miller said. "The list is long."

Cousins will have options; the question will be whether they’re better options than Washington (7-8). If not, then he’d be as likely to sign whatever tag they have here — be it franchise or transition — and return for another season. Cousins has shown he’s comfortable playing on lucrative, one-year deals.

Yes, Denver needs a quarterback and there were Broncos fans in attendance Sunday holding up signs trying to woo Cousins. The problem is, would Denver be a better situation for Cousins? The Broncos have a terrific defense and a good quarterback would make a tremendous difference.

However, a lot depends on the direction they take offensively. Do they stick with interim offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave or hire someone else? Cousins will not go there just because he might be a final piece. The ability to build and win consistently matters, as does the relationship with the offensive coordinator.

Experience matters

But if Denver — and anyone else — was paying attention, they have seen growth in Cousins’ game. Flash back before he became the permanent starter; the knock on him was he couldn’t overcome adversity. But, he just spent an entire season doing that.

Look at the top players Washington has been without on offense: left tackle Trent Williams, tight end Jordan Reed and running back Chris Thompson. Once upon a time that would have sunk them; it has not. Cousins’ growth has helped. With a good finale, Cousins could top 4,200 passing yards and might reach 30 touchdown passes.

Sunday, he shook off early missed throws – an underthrow here; an overthrow there. He shook off a couple drops. He shook off a bad interception.

“The more experience you get, the more comfortable you get and the more you understand adversity is going to take place in the course of a game and the season,” Redskins coach Jay Gruden said. “He’s handled it extremely well.”

There was the forced interception in the end zone — he threw into triple coverage, a flashback to his younger days. But he responded, with a field-goal drive and two touchdown passes. He continued to make enough plays off schedule — surely, Denver president John Elway recognized growth in this area. On his last touchdown pass, Cousins, with a defender in his face, hit tight end Vernon Davis in stride.

“Those are the plays I’m getting better at making,” Cousins said.

Tom Brady’s words helped

One reason Cousins has gone from a fourth-round pick to a guy who will be in demand after the season stems from how he analyzes his own game. He focused in the offseason on learning to extend plays. He’ll never be an Elway, but he has helped himself a number of times with improved mobility or, rather, an increased awareness. He’s picked the brain of many quarterbacks, from Drew Brees to Tom Brady.

In fact, when asked Sunday about improving his ability to read coverages, Cousins relayed a conversation he had with Brady after a 2015 game. Cousins didn’t feel it was clicking yet for him.

“I said, ‘When did it start clicking for you?’” Cousins said. “And he said, ‘It’s still clicking.’ His point was that there was never one moment where suddenly it just turned the page and he had it all figured out.”

It’s about the accumulation of knowledge, Cousins said.

“Over three years, my knowledge has accumulated,” Cousins said. “I’ve been able to be out there and gain experience and play. Now I have a lot of games in my bank account that I can lean on and use those experiences to help me play better as I go forward.”

The question, of course, focuses on where it will be. For now, it’s here. As he left the locker room, he stopped to ask a few reporters about their Christmas plans. Then he exited to be with his family — his parents were in town — and three-month old son.

Another audition awaits next week in the season finale at the New York Giants.

“It would be great to get him back,” Redskins receiver Jamison Crowder said. “He has a great connection with all the receivers in the room as well as a lot of guys on our team. It would definitely be great to get him back. I’ve never been in a situation where a new quarterback has come in. It would be like starting over. If he could come back, that would be awesome.”

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The Portland Trail Blazers (16-15) host the Denver Nuggets (16-15) Friday at 7 p.m. at the Moda Center. The game is airing live on NBC Sports Northwest. The Blazers will be without Damian Lillard, who is sitting with a strained right hamstring.

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The Green Bay Packers signed center Dillon Day off the practice squad of the Denver Broncos on Wednesday afternoon.

Day, who Denver brought in as an undrafted free agent in 2015, has spent most of the last three seasons on the Broncos practice squad. He was active on Denver’s 53-man roster for one game this season in Week 7.

Day started for four years at center for Mississippi State from 2011-14.

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The 2017 All-Colorado football team, as selected by The Denver Post staff based on statistical analysis, relative value to team success, postseason production and the old-fashioned eye test.

QB Zach Cozzolino, Pueblo South, Sr., 6-foot, 190 pounds

While throwing for 48 touchdowns, the second most in state history, and leading Class 4A with 3,442 yards, he quarterbacked his team to its first state championship.

QB Ty Evans, Palmer Ridge, Jr., 6-3, 190

One of the nation’s most highly recruited quarterbacks in the Class of 2019, Evans led the state with 3,627 yards while also throwing for 42 touchdowns and leading the Bears to their first state title.

QB Alex Padilla, Cherry Creek, Jr., 6-2, 190

As the frontman for the Bruins’ dynamic offense, he led Class 5A with 40 touchdowns passing while also throwing for 2,678 yards after seeing a promising sophomore season derailed by a broken thumb.

RB Jeremy Hollingsworth, Skyline, Jr., 5-10, 191

Immediately became the Falcons’ most explosive weapon after transferring from Niwot in the offseason, pacing Skyline to its first playoff appearance since 1999 while rushing for 1,913 yards and a Class 4A-best 31 touchdowns.

RB Max Borghi, Pomona, Sr., 5-10, 198

The Washington State commitment could create long touchdowns with a burst through the slightest of holes, and he ranked first in Class 5A with 27 rushing scores — not to mention his 1,690 yards rushing and array of big plays in the return game.

RB Ben Frenette, Chatfield, Sr., 6-0, 212

The heart and soul of a Chatfield offense that was unstoppable throughout the regular season finished with 1,517 yards and 23 touchdowns by ground, while his leadership helped cement the Chargers among the Class 4A elite.

RB Noah Roper, Erie, Jr., 6-0, 195

Paced all of Colorado in rushing yards (2,631) and touchdowns (36) while also playing a primary role in the secondary as his speed and field vision led Erie to its first state title game showing since 2008.

WR Billy Pospisil, Pomona, Jr., 5-11, 190

The long-range atomic weapon in the vast Pomona arsenal, Pospisil built off a strong sophomore season by leading Colorado with 1,591 yards receiving this year, posting 18 total touchdowns, including three in the Panthers’ Class 5A title game win.

WR Marcell Barbee, Pueblo South, Sr., 6-2, 195

A primary reason the Colts’ offense was electric down the stretch, Barbee’s 23 touchdowns receiving led Colorado and rank third in state history, while he also racked up 1,390 receiving yards — 199 of which came on eight catches in the title game.

WR Dimitri Stanley, Cherry Creek Sr., 6-0, 178

As Alex Padilla’s favorite weapon, the Colorado commitment finished with 1,192 yards and 20 touchdowns as he displayed quickness, route running and sure hands rivaled by few other wideouts in the state.

OL Kevin Singer, Columbine, Sr., 6-6, 268

One of multiple giants on a Rebels offensive line that racked up 3,712 yards rushing this season, his leadership was also key throughout Columbine’s bruising march to the Class 5A semifinals.

OL Barrett Miller, Eaglecrest, Jr., 6-5, 260

His physical play up front set the tone for the Raptors to get to the Class 5A title game, and with still one prep season to play, he’s in position to further add to his legacy of redefining the grit of Eaglecrest football.

OL Dom Pollato, Cherry Creek, Jr., 6-3, 280

Once again, Pollato was the head henchman charged with protecting Alex Padilla, and he made good on his job in a complicated offense that gave its quarterback and running backs time to compile 4,515 total yards.

OL Blake Carette, Arapahoe, Sr., 6-3, 280

As the lynchpin of the Warriors’ line, the Air Force commitment displayed athleticism in space in Arapahoe’s counter-heavy offense, with the speed to get out on screens and a consistent physicality up to each and every whistle.

OL Austin Johnson, Highlands Ranch, Jr., 6-4, 260

One of two future Division I players on the Falcons’ offensive front, the guard enabled junior running back Dominic Bettini to run wild to help the Falcons reach the Class 5A playoffs for the second straight season.

OL Max Bruner, Ponderosa, Sr., 6-3, 280

The versatile lineman is holding an array of FCS offers thanks to an athletic frame that allowed him to pave the way for one of the top offenses in Class 4A, playing with a take-no-prisoners attitude matched only by his motor.

ATH Luke McCaffrey, Valor Christian, Jr., 6-2, 180

With the same undeniable athleticism of his father and three older brothers, McCaffrey led a balanced Eagles offense with 1,172 total yards while also playing a key role in the secondary and on special teams.

ATH A’Jon Vivens, Mullen, Sr., 6-0, 185

The Colorado State commitment did a bit of everything for the Mustangs this year, racking up 1,262 total offensive yards while seeing significant time at both wideout (six touchdowns) and running back (five touchdowns).

ATH Ryan Marquez, Pomona, Sr., 6-2, 175

The centerpiece of a Panthers offense that set a state record for total offense with 6,362 yards, Marquez played fearlessly at quarterback and shored up the team’s secondary while leading Pomona to three straight title games.

ATH Jalen Mergerson, Eaglecrest Sr., 5-11, 180

The elevation of the Raptors from good to elite is in large credit to Mergerson, who racked up 3,615 total yards and 33 touchdowns while leading Eaglecrest to a second straight undefeated regular season and first title showing since 1993.

LB Jacob Stanton, Chaparral, Sr., 6-2, 220

A nearly unblockable plug in the middle of the Wolverines’ defense, Stanton posted 128 tackles, including 19 for loss, as he proved his ability to both contain the second level and make plays in the backfield.

LB Tama Tuitele, Regis Jesuit, Sr., 6-1, 230

In addition to contributing at H-back and long snapper, Tuitele set the physical tone for the Raiders’ defense with 156 tackles, and the middle linebacker holds offers from the three major service academies.

LB Adrian Jackson, Mullen, Sr., 6-3, 215

The Oregon commitment led the Mustangs with 65 tackles, including 54 solo, while playing the game with a raw physicality and speed matched by few players in the state.

DL Tate Wildeman, Legend Sr., 6-6, 250

Despite missing a couple of games because of injury, the Nebraska commitment recorded six sacks and 61 total tackles as he helped assert the Titans as a physical force in the top-heavy Class 5A landscape.

DL Drake Nugent, Highlands Ranch, Jr., 6-2, 260

In addition to his prowess on the offensive line, Nugent was a force on the defensive line while posting 71 tackles and three sacks — and looking the part of a future Division I player in the details on film as well.

DL Jake Heimlicher, Regis Jesuit, Sr., 6-4, 215

Despite facing double-teams all fall, his 18 sacks paced Class 5A for a second straight season, and his other stat lines — 100 tackles, 26 of which were for loss — has him weighing an array of Division I offers.

DB Vic Garnes, Eaglecrest Sr., 5-10, 180

With freakish ability, Garnes managed to be most impactful player on the field on most occasions, recording 84 tackles while leading a championship-caliber Eaglecrest secondary — not to mention his 13 offensive touchdowns.

DB Chad Muma, Legend, Sr., 6-3, 200

The Wyoming commitment recorded 77 tackles, including eight for loss, on a stacked defense featuring several other Division I athletes, and his leadership in the secondary elevated the Titans’ defense as a whole.

DB Cameron Murray, Overland, Sr., 6-2, 180

Clearly the Trailblazers’ most talented player, the Wyoming pledge recorded 39 tackles out of the secondary, with his ability to wrap up in the open field complemented his speed and ball awareness in one-on-one coverage.

DB Patrick Roe, Regis Jesuit, Sr., 5-10, 155

A prototypical shutdown corner, Roe went toe to toe with an array of top receivers this fall and still ended up leading Class 5A with eight interceptions while helping the Raiders’ defense push the team to the Class 5A quarterfinals.

DB Xavier Hill, Pine Creek, Sr., 6-2, 175

He tied for the lead in Class 4A with six interceptions, including two pick-sixes, and his athleticism showed in the playoffs while helping the Eagles’ defense hold three opponents to one total touchdown en route to the title game.

K/P Issac Power, Ponderosa, Sr., 6-2, 185

As one of the top kicking recruits in the country, the Baylor pledge lived up to his reputation this year by averaging 41.3 yards per punt, with a dozen placed inside the 20, while also leading Class 4A with nine field goals and a long of 58 yards.

Coach Ryan Goddard, Pueblo South

The 2001 Pueblo South graduate led the Colts to their first championship in the program’s 59-year history. In the title game, the Colts completely outplayed defending champion Pine Creek in order to accomplish the feat.

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Custer County School District Superintendent Mark Payler reads to 3rd graders during class on April 13, 2017 in Westcliffe.
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The state’s largest teacher association says a plan aimed at ending Colorado’s teacher shortage lacks specifics and shortchanges traditional preparation programs.

The plan, created by state education leaders, was introduced this month and was based largely on comments gleaned from town halls held this summer throughout the state. Its recommendations include better base salaries and housing incentives for teachers living in rural areas, student loan forgiveness and “grow your own” teacher preparation programs that will keep teachers from leaving the towns they grew up in.

The Colorado Education Association is concerned the recommendations don’t include ways to get teachers involved in solving the shortage problem, president Kerrie Dallman said.

“It is concerning that there are not more concrete details to ensure the voices of the professional educators who are working directly with our students are part of the decision-making process within the schools-districts-state,” Dallman said in a written statement. Teacher satisfaction and retention are highest in the districts where teachers take part in forming policy and decisions, she said, a process the CEA believes should be mirrored when deciding how to get and retain teachers.

Dallman praised the state’s departments of education and higher education for tackling the growing problem. The CEA is “glad that an in-depth look at the looming teacher shortage is finally being undertaken,” she said.

Enrollment and completion of educator preparation programs have declined by 24 percent and 17 percent respectively since 2010, and nearly a third of Colorado educators soon will be eligible for retirement, according to a state report.

Colorado loses about 16 percent of new classroom teachers within their first five years, the report said.

Teacher shortages have hit Colorado’s 147 rural and small rural districts the hardest. Some math and science classes have been without a regular, assigned teacher for years, said the report, which also notes that 95 percent of Colorado’s rural school districts offer salaries below the cost of living.

Dallman said the CEA appreciates the call for better minimum salaries for teachers. “But we also want to see concrete proposals for providing the additional revenue,” she said.

The CEA also doesn’t want the state to rush new teachers who don’t have the proper training or certification. into the classroom. The state plan calls for increasing the number of teachers trained through traditional as well as alternate education programs that include a “grow your own” effort and dual licenses in areas where there are huge shortages.

“Lowering standards is not how to address the shortage of qualified teachers,” Dallman said. “We must continue to press for rigorous performance assessments that candidates must pass to teach.”

The plan has been presented to the Colorado Commission on Higher Education and the Colorado State School Board as well as to the Public Education and Business Coalition. The Colorado Senate and House Education Committees will review the plan this winter.

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Denver Broncos quarterback Trevor Siemian celebrates game-winning touchdown against the Carolina Panthers at the NFL’s season opener and Super Bowl 50 rematch at Sports Authority Field at Mile High in Denver on September 8, 2016. File photo by Gary C. Caskey/UPI

DENVER — Trevor Siemian led five scoring drives, including one ending in a 20-yard touchdown pass to Demaryius Thomas, Denver’s defense put on a forceful show and the Broncos snapped their longest losing streak in 50 years by beating the New York Jets 23-0 Sunday.

Brandon McManus kicked field goals of 31, 53 and 40 yards and fullback Andy Janovich had a 1-yard touchdown run, helping the Broncos (4-9) end an eight-game losing streak. The skid was their longest since a nine-game losing streak in 1967.

The Jets (5-8) went virtually nowhere on offense and lost quarterback Josh McCown, who was shaken up for the second time in the game when he took a hit from Broncos linebacker Shane Ray as he released a pass.

McCown left the game under his own power and headed to the locker room for further examination of a left hand injury with 2:54 remaining in the third quarter and did not return. Backup Bryce Petty replaced him, but also could make little headway against the Broncos’ resurgent defense.

Petty also had come in for two plays earlier in the game when McCown was hit simultaneously by two defenders at the end of an 8-yard scramble.

McCown completed 6-of-12 passes for 46 yards before being sidelined and accounted for both of the Jets’ turnovers with a fumble and an interception. Siemian finished 19 of 31 for 200 yards passing and helped the Broncos dominate time of possession.

Leading by 13, the Broncos extended their advantage with Siemian leading a 68-yard drive that Janovich finished with a third-down plunge from 1 yard out for a touchdown.

McManus added his third field goal early in the fourth quarter for an additional cushion.

The Jets set the tone for a futile offensive performance early on. Their first four possessions ended in a fumble, interception and two punts as the Broncos went in front 13-0 at the half.

Denver sandwiched two field goals around a missed 29-yarder from McManus and capitalized on a Jets turnover for its first touchdown. Siemian tossed a 20-yard strike to Thomas, who grabbed the ball in the end zone in front of cornerback Morris Claiborne.

The Broncos’ defense set up the possession when linebacker Brandon Marshall sacked McCown, forcing a fumble that was recovered at the Jets’ 20-yard line by defensive lineman Adam Gotsis.

McCown was shaken up early in the second quarter when he was sandwiched between defenders. He was replaced for two plays by Petty and threw an interception on his first play back with the Jets in the midst of a promising drive. Safety Darian Stewart made the interception, cutting in front of the intended receiver Robby Anderson, along the sideline to make the play.

NOTES: Broncos S Justin Simmons left in the first quarter with an ankle injury and did not return. … Jets LS Thomas Hennessy was shaken up covering a first-quarter punt. He did not return after it was determined he had suffered a head injury and was replaced by TE Eric Tomlinson. … WR Demaryius Thomas caught his 56th career touchdown pass, snapping a tie with Hall of Fame TE Shannon Sharpe for second on Denver’s all-time list. … The Jets lost RB Elijah McGuire with an ankle injury in the first quarter.

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