5 reasons Vance Joseph will fix the Broncos in 2017
The Denver Broncos hired former Miami Dolphins defensive coordinator Vance Joseph as their next head coach. Here are five reasons he’ll fix the Broncos.
The 2017 NFL head coaching carousel has made its second of six stops. On Wednesday afternoon, the Denver Broncos decided to name former Miami Dolphins defensive coordinator Vance Joseph their next head football coach.
Joseph has been on the come-up in NFL coaching circles in recent years. With the success of the Dolphins in 2016, he has been tabbed as the next great defensive-minded head coaching candidate.
While Joseph’s arrival in Denver as a defensive mind will be a swift departure from what the Broncos have known under the offensive-minded Gary Kubiak, here are five reasons for Broncos Country not to panic with the fast hiring of Joseph by general manager John Elway. Here is how Joseph can get the Broncos back on track in 2017.
5. Keen on player development
While the 2016 Dolphins defense wasn’t anything spectacular, one part of it could indicate that Joseph is keen on player development. The long-time defensive backs coach in the NFL was able to turn former Michigan State Spartans Tony Lippett wide receiver into a solid NFL corner back.
Lippett played wide receiver in his final three years in East Lansing for Mark Dantonio. Joseph was able to turn him into a major contributor in the defensive backfield for the 2016 Dolphins. However, that encroachment of Lippett’s on a field goal attempt wasn’t great against the Pittsburgh Steelers in the AFC Playoffs wasn’t great.
Denver is strong in the secondary and really all over its defense. However, the Broncos may begin to lose players like cornerback Aqib Talib and outside linebacker DeMarcus Ware to retirement in the not so distant future.
The Broncos aren’t going to bottom out any time soon, nor will they likely splurge in NFL free agency. That might have been a one-time thing for Elway to do with an aging Peyton Manning at quarterback a few years ago.
The best course of action is this minor rebuild is to trust Elway’s eye for talent and Joseph’s ability in player development on the defensive side of the ball. If Joseph can get the most out of his players of defense, Denver should be poised to get back into the 2017 AFC Playoffs.
4. Will gradually bring the quarterbacks along
Broncos Country may not like this, but the best course of action to get their offensive back on track is to slowly, but surely bring along quarterbacks Trevor Siemian and Paxton Lynch. Hiring an innovative play caller may not have been in the best interest of getting either Siemian or Lynch to a franchise quarterback level.
Lynch clearly has the higher ceiling over Siemian, but it serves the Broncos to get the absolute most out of Siemian before Lynch is ready to take over. Siemian could spin his time in Denver in another starting gig elsewhere should Lynch beat him out at any point in 2017.
By hiring a defensive-minded coach in Joseph, this almost guarantees that he will be particularly cautious in overseeing the development of his two young quarterbacks. He clearly believes in at least one of them and has development plan for them. Otherwise, why would he take the job or be offered it in the first place by Elway?
Getting this mediocre Broncos offense back on track will have to start with rebuilding the offensive line and getting the running game back on track. Quarterback development will coincide with this. Using the run to open up the pass is the right conservative approach that Denver needs to bring this intriguing quarterback duo along. It’s easy to imagine Joseph to have that sort of offensive mentality as the next Broncos head coach.
3. Well-connected enough to attract strong offensive staff
Joseph has been a football coach since he was a graduate assistant for his alma mater Colorado Buffaloes. Being that he’s been in NFL coaching circles since he was with the 2005 San Francisco 49ers, Joseph has certainly crossed paths with strong offensive minded coaches.
The three most notable NFL head coaches he’s worked with are Kubiak with the Houston Texans (2011-13), Adam Gase with the 2016 Dolphins, and Cleveland Browns head coach Hue Jackson when they were on Marvin Lewis’ Cincinnati Bengals staff (2014-15).
All three coaches have different approaches to NFL offense. Kubiak likes to go ultra-conservative. Gase loves to pass, but will pound the rock with a bell-cow back like Jay Ajayi. Jackson has even meddled with a spread passing attacking in his last two jobs.
Three different offensive philosophies has at the very least exposed Joseph to varying ways to attack a defense. He’s had to have known what type of offensive coordinator he would want to partner with should he ever get a head coaching opportunity. Don’t be surprised if the well-traveled Joseph can put together a solid offensive staff in Denver.
2. A better understanding of the running game than we’d expect
While some look at Joseph as a fast-climbing defensive minded coach, not only does he have 17 years of experience as a coach, but he has a better understanding of the running game than he gives off.
When Joseph played his college ball for the Buffaloes, he was an option quarterback/running back for the legendary Bill McCartney. Colorado became a national power under McCartney, winning a national championship when Joseph was a freshman at Boulder.
The triple-option doesn’t work in the NFL, but that doesn’t mean Joseph can’t take his knowledge of the running game and get the Broncos up to speed on pounding the rock. Using the run to set up the pass with various tailbacks is the best thing for Lynch and Siemian’s development. Frankly, so will leaning on the Broncos defense.
To briefly make it in the NFL as a player in the mid-1990s with the 1995 New York Jets and 1996 Indianapolis Colts, the undrafted running back out of Colorado, Joseph had to learn how to be a defensive back. His NFL career of hinge on him making a position switch. That could indicate his ability to adapt and adjust as an NFL head coach. Being knowledgable of how to run the football and stopping the pass makes him a very well-rounded head coaching candidate.
1. Denver will have to win with defense any way
This is something the Broncos organization obviously realizes: the offense isn’t close and the best course of action to get back to winning in 2017 is to lean heavily on its defense. Kubiak was able to do this in aligning with brilliant defensive coordinator Wade Phillips, but Kubiak’s resignation might mean 69-year-old Phillips steps away, too.
Elway recognized that he still has at least a year or two left of having a top-tier defense. The Broncos will certainly lose defensive studs to either free agency or retirement in the next few seasons. Coinciding with them not wanting to completely rebuild, Joseph can get the most out of his mid-level players and turn them into something great.
Joseph’s arrival in Denver could create a seamless transition in terms of defensive personnel. Rather than blow the whole thing up, Joseph can lean on stars like outside linebacker Von Miller and cornerback Chris Harris, Jr. to make Denver a contender once again in 2017.
By the time Denver’s defense rapidly decays, Elway will have had enough time to rebuild the Broncos offense to counterbalance the myriad of losses on that side of the ball. Having a head coach that specializes in defensive player development might actually be exactly what Denver needs to get back to a Super Bowl by 2020.
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