The Denver Broncos have found a new head coach. Vance Joseph was offered the job and accepted nine days after Gary Kubiak officially announced his retirement, multiple reports indicated Wednesday.
Broncos general manager John Elway confirmed the news minutes later.
The move is a homecoming of sorts for the 44-year-old Joseph, who played college football as a reserve quarterback at the University of Colorado from 1990 to 1994 and worked three seasons as a graduate assistant at the school beginning in 1999.
Joseph coached one season as the defensive backs coach at Colorado in 2003, but he left the school in 2004 when he was placed on suspension while the school investigated sexual harassment claims. Colorado investigated Joseph for two separate incidents after he allegedly had sex with one CU trainer in a steam room and another in which he allegedly took two CU trainers home from a bar.
“We have no reason to believe that it was not consensual, but since he is a coach, we consider that it was probable or possible sexual harassment,” former CU President Elizabeth Hoffman said in a deposition, per the Boulder Daily Camera. “So we followed our sexual harassment protocols.”
Joseph broke into NFL coaching in 2005. He got a job as the San Francisco 49ers assistant secondary coach. He was the defensive backs coach for three different teams from 2006 to 2015 — the 49ers, Texans and Bengals.
Joseph became the Miami Dolphins defensive coordinator last season. A lot has been made about Miami’s struggles on that side of the ball in 2016. The Dolphins finished 26th in yards allowed (382.6 ypg), 15th in passing defense (242.2 ypg) and 30th in rushing defense (140.4 ypg).
The South Florida Sun-Sentinel’s Omar Kelly, who covered Joseph in Miami, said those struggles were more the result of injuries than Joseph’s failings on The Vic Lombardi Show.
“I think that’s a little bit unfair,” Kelly said. “I’m not sure that people realize … the defense was playing without five of its 11 starters. That wasn’t just against the Steelers. That was most of the season. What Vance Joseph did was his schemes and ability to call plays at the appropriate time masked that for most of the season except for the final week of the regular season. Vance Joseph’s defense spent most of the year ranked No. 1 in third-down defense. For a team that had given up as many yards as they had, that had been as bad against the run as they had … that’s something Vance Joseph inherited that the Dolphins didn’t address. That’s pretty good.”
Now that the Broncos have identified Kubiak’s successor, here are two questions facing the team:
- Will Joseph keep Wade Phillips on as defensive coordinator? The two know each other already. Phillips was the defensive coordinator with the Texans in 2012 and 2013 when Joseph was the defensive backs coach. Under Phillips’ watch, the Broncos finished as Football Outsiders’ top-ranked defense each of the last two seasons.
- How does Joseph plan to repair an anemic offense? Denver missed the playoffs in 2016 because its offense was pitiful. The offensive line looks like it needs to be overhauled. The quarterbacks situation could go in several different directions. Trevor Siemian could remain the starter, Paxton Lynch could step in or the Broncos could pursue quarterbacks like Tony Romo or Tyrod Taylor this offseason. It will be interesting to see if Joseph has a preference.
“Becoming head coach of the Denver Broncos is a dream job for many reasons,” Joseph said in a statement. “The Broncos have an unbelievable winning tradition and great fan support. But what makes this even more special is it’s a place that’s ready to win. This is not a rebuilding situation — it’s a reboot. There is a culture of winning here, and the standards around here won’t change — those are to win championships.”
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