Vance Joseph: What can we expect in year one?

Denver Broncos head coach Vance Joseph is building a strong staff. But what can we expect in his first year in the Mile High City?

The Denver Broncos offseason rolls on. As we watch new head coach Vance Joseph assemble a strong coaching staff with a good mix of veteran coaches (Mike McCoy, Bill Musgrave, Jeff Davidson) and bright young minds (Joe Woods, Marcus Robertson) one question comes to mind: What can we expect out of the new coaching staff in their first season?

Coaching changes can bring a sense of hope and excitement. It also brings a lot of unknowns. A change can sometimes energize a team, bringing in a new voice, new perspective and a different approach. Recently we have seen some new coaches experience some level of success right away.

Both Jim and John Harbaugh stepped in and were immediate successes with their respective teams. Jim Harbaugh took over the San Francisco 49ers and was an immediate success posting records of 13-3, 11-4-1 and 12-4 leading to two NFC West titles, three appearances in the NFC title game and a trip to Super Bowl XLVII.

John Harbaugh became head coach of the Baltimore Ravens in 2008 and proceeded to make the playoffs his first five seasons, capturing two AFC North titles and making a trip to the AFC title game twice, winning Super Bowl XLVII against his brother Jim.

However history has shown this isn’t the norm. Some of the greatest head coaches of all time struggled in the early going. Bill Walsh’s first two seasons in San Francisco went 2-14, 6-10. Tom Landry didn’t win a single game his first season, going 0-11-1. In fact his first winning season came in his 7th season as head coach of the Dallas Cowboys.

Bill Belichick became head coach of the Cleveland Browns in 1991 and managed one winning season in five years. His first season in New England saw the Patriots go 5-11. Chuck Noll went 1-13, 5-9 and 6-8 in his first three years in Pittsburgh.

Besides struggling out of the gate as head coaches, they all have a couple other things in common. All went on to each win multiple Super Bowl titles and all either are or soon will be in the Hall of Fame.

Vance Joseph’s situation is different you say? True, he is taking over a team that for at least a few more weeks can call themselves the defending Super Bowl champions. So how have other coaches done taking over previously successful teams? Bill Walsh’s final season in San Francisco ended with a 10-6 record and a victory in Super Bowl XXIII. Enter George Seifert. All he did was follow with a 14-2 record and a world championship of his own in Super Bowl XXIV. He would add another title in Super Bowl XXIX and finish with six NFC West titles in eight years, two Super Bowl championships and a record of 98-30 during his time in San Francisco.

Bill Cowher took over for the legendary Chuck Noll in Pittsburgh in 1992. The Steelers would win five AFC Central titles in Cowher’s first six seasons, making the playoffs all six years. Cowher would add three more division titles before finally winning it all in Super XL in 2005. He would retire from coaching following the 2006 season with a career record of 149-90-1.

Jimmy Johnson followed the great Tom Landry in Dallas in 1989 following a hugely successful run as head coach at the University of Miami. The Cowboys went 1-15, 7-9 and 11-5 his first three years before winning back to back Super Bowl titles in 1992 and 1993. He would finish his time in Dallas with two NFC East titles and two Super Bowl titles with a career record of 44-36.

So what can we expect from Vance Joseph and Co. in Denver next year? The Broncos will still boast one of the best defenses in the NFL and have good young talent at key positions. Ultimately a lot will hinge on the progress of their young quarterbacks.

Early indications are that the Broncos with give first rounder Paxton Lynch every chance to start this upcoming season. If Joseph and his staff can help him build off last season and tap into his vast physical talents, the future will be bright in Broncos Country. The biggest keys to the upcoming season will be patience, patience, patience.

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