The Denver Broncos have a new head coach.
Vance Joseph has officially been hired to replace the retired Gary Kubiak, Broncos football czar John Elway announced Wednesday. NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported that Joseph signed a four-year deal.
Spending the past season as defensive coordinator of the Miami Dolphins, Joseph staged his first interview with the club on Tuesday before returning for a second meeting on Wednesday with Elway. This time around, Joseph stayed.
“He has great leadership qualities and a strong vision of what it takes to win,” Elway tweeted of Joseph on Tuesday.
Joseph worked under Kubiak for three seasons — from 2011 to 2013 — as a defensive backs aide for the Houston Texans. He served in the same capacity the following two years in Cincinnati before Dolphins coach Adam Gase nabbed Joseph as his coordinator in 2016.
“Going against him over the last few years, he was probably the one guy that would drive me nuts,” Gase said of Joseph. “I know he gave us tons of fits when we played him when we were in Houston. And then two years ago when he was in Cincinnati and we were in Denver, it was a tough matchup. I think his DBs picked us off four times.
“His knowledge of defense and what he brings to the table and his ability to really go with wholesale jerseys after an offense, as far as really teaching his guys what’s going on, it’s very impressive.”
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Miami’s defense struggled under Joseph down the stretch — and collapsed Sunday against the Steelers — but that failed to shake Denver’s intense interest in the respected 44-year-old coach. Elway conducts his searches carefully and certainly leaned on Kubiak and Gase, a former Broncos play-caller, for insight into Joseph’s potential.
Seen by many as the NFL’s premier vacancy, the Broncos give Joseph plenty to work with on defense. One season removed from Super Bowl glory, Denver remains a dangerous and disruptive unit on this side of the ball while anchored by All-Pro pass rusher Von Miller.
“It’s gonna be an open competition,” Joseph said of the race between last year’s starter, Trevor Siemian, and first-round pick Paxton Lynch.
“I’ve watched Trevor — obviously he’s got more experience,” Joseph said, calling the 2016 starter “smart, fast with the ball” and reliable under center.
Lynch also drew praise for his size and athletic ability, with Joseph calling his inherited signal-callers “both young, both capable.”
Asked what kind of scheme he’d like to run, Joseph said point-blank: “I want an offense that’s attacking.”
“When you play (against) an offense that’s attacking, it makes you be careful with your calls,” Joseph said of being a defensive coach, adding: “I want an offense with swagger, with up-tempo and with a chance to score points.”
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Elway expressed comfort in Joseph managing both sides of the ball.
“You think he only knows the defensive side, but he’s aware of what we need to do on the offensive side, too,” Elway said. “I think that’s why the combination is tremendous.”
After calling plays for the Dolphins’ defense this season, Joseph made it clear that he’d rather not handle that chore as head coach. With Broncos defensive backs coach Joe Woods looming as a potential choice for coordinator, Joseph was asked if Wade Phillips — who ran the show the past two seasons — was still in the running to keep his job.
“Wade’s a free agent. He’s free to go where he wants to go,” Joseph said, calling all decisions around his coaching staff “a work in progress.”
Both Trevor Siemian jersey and Paxton Lynch jersey will have a chance to be the team’s opening day starter. Neither has a complete season as a starter under their belts.
Siemian was 8-6 as a starter in Denver this season, with 3,401 passing yards, 18 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. Lynch made three appearances, throwing for 497 yards, two touchdowns and an interception.
While neither may have the foundational skills of Derek Carr, they do have Musgrave, a long-time quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator who was present for each of Carr’s two Pro Bowl seasons. Had Carr not broken his leg in a late December game this season, he would undoubtedly be listed among the top candidates for most valuable player.
This year’s Broncos team finished 22nd in points and 27th in yards under outgoing head coach Gary Kubiak. Knowing that this cannot remain the case, Joseph and team vice president John Elway made some major moves and cheap jerseys before their first weekend of work began.