By Marc Mandell
Well folks, the Denver Broncos head coaching search came to a close on Wednesday afternoon. The Broncos hired, the now former defensive coordinator for the Miami Dolphins, Vance Joseph! I’m sure you have all heard the news, and some of you are bummed that it wasn’t Kyle Shanahan. Before you throw in the towel on next season, give up hope and wallow in anger, let me shed some light on the new HC, the 16th in the history of the Denver Broncos.
Sure, the stats for Miami’s defense last season wasn’t one to admire. However, keep this in mind, when Jack Del Rio was the defensive coordinator for Denver a few seasons ago, he had very similar numbers to what Miami put up this year. However, when he went to be the HC of Oakland, the coach drafted quality players, a new rare thing for the Raiders, and he was able to acquire some quality free agents as well. He went on to improve, not only the offense of Oakland, but was able to dramatically improve the rest of the perennial cellar dwellers to a playoff berth. Oh, and if Carr hadn’t gotten hurt, they would’ve made a serious bid to be in the SuperBowl this year. The point? He was a vanilla, some would say bad coordinator that went on to be a very good head coach.
If you read my last blog about what traits a quality head coach makes, you would’ve read that it takes a leader of men, with the ability to coach the coaches by listening, communicating and remaining humble. That is what Joseph displays.
He started as a QB at CU Boulder. He wasn’t the best QB in the college ranks, but even while wanting to be the starter, he knew that there was a young prospect that had what it took to take to team where they wanted to go. Most of us Colorado natives still remember this QB, Kordell Stewart. Yeah, remember him? Joseph knew that Kordell would most certainly replace him, yet Joseph helped in recruiting him anyway. It was about the team for Vance. It’s always been about team for him.
Vance is a younger guy at 44, which is one trait that Elway was looking for. Let me explain, I look at this hire in the same way I look at a guy like John Harbaugh. You see, Kubiak was a seasoned coach that wanted things done a certain way. When Elway came to him late in the 2016 season and informed Gary that he wanted to fire most of his offensive staff, Kubiak fell on the sword to protect his guys. Those were his guys. How many coordinators and offensive coaches has Harbaugh been through? A number of them. In fact, if you recall, the Ravens made a change at the OC position more than half way through their 2012 season, which was the year they won the SuperBowl. That would never have happened under Kubiak. Under Joseph, if a change needs to happen, an adjustment or so on, he isn’t so set in his ways. Let’s face it, the NFL is a Not For Long league. Evolve or fail. Belichick hasn’t been at the top of his craft for as long as he has without this trait. I’m not insinuating that Joseph is the next Belichick, but he can be flexible and adapt to situations. This is a good thing guys.
The other top reason for the hire, in my humble opinion, is because of development, or the recent lack there of. The biggest question I always come back to after this past season is; are the Broncos bereft of talent or is it more of a lack of development of the talent that resides here. Teams are never as bad as they think they are, and they aren’t as good they think either. They’re usually hanging out somewhere in the middle. So as far as the talent, and development, it’s a little of column A, and a little of column B. On the roster, you look at guys like Ty Sambrailo, Michael Schofield and Max Garcia who were high draft picks that seem to be struggling the most on the team since they were selected. No way on this entire planet of earth that Elway whiffed on all three, right? Garcia is inconsistent, Schofield the same, and Sambrailo has had a number of shoulder/arm injuries. The growth from these three from year one to year two was… uninspiring. That is usually when we see the biggest growth in a player, year one to year two. A head coach that can let his OC and offensive staff train and develop the young talent will go a long way.
Third is Paxton Lynch. If you have read any of my other blogs you notice that I haven’t been as forgiving as perhaps I should be on the young signal caller. I struggle to see the appeal. With inconsistent foot work, lack of under center play and slow eyes, he has a long way to go. Make no mistake, that was the census on him when he was drafted. A prospect that is a project. A long term project. Most of the pundits and prognosticators that have either played or coached, peg Lynch as a 3-4 year project before he becomes a full time, top 15 QB. Vance Joseph and his staff will have the capital project of rapidly advancing the development the young QB out of Memphis. A tall order indeed. I hope for success, of course, but I have my doubts.
Which brings us to the knock on HC Joseph. The questions. Can he develop the raw talent, by allowing his coaches to coach by putting all under him in the best position to succeed? Is he a head coach? Those are the questions that surround a young coach. Delegation, trust and respect are the tools for success, winning and development of the team he now is at the helm of.
All in all, I feel really good about the hire. Even as I write this, I’m seeing tweet after tweet, post after post from former colleagues and players that have an incredible amount of positive things to say about Joseph. His staff will most likely be comprised of OC Mike McCoy, and DC, I’m guessing here, Joe Woods, the current DB coach for Denver. I think the Wade ship has sailed, unfortunately. There are a myriad of reasons to be hopeful about next season Broncos Country. This was an excellent hire. Keep the faith y’all. I know I am.