There’s a word that coaches, executives, administrators and the lot like to throw around during press conferences to introduce new head coaches: winning.
Invoking the “W” word during the first meet-and-greet with a team’s new coach is a time-honored tradition.
The press conference the Denver Broncos had to introduce Vance Joseph as the 16th head coach in franchise history Thursday, though, might have set a world record for the number of times “win” or “winning” was said during one of these things. John Elway and Joseph combined to say it 8,673 times by my unofficial count in about a half hour’s time.
“There’s only one stat that counts,” Elway said. “And that’s how many games you win.”
“Mr. (Pat) Bowlen has set a standard of winning,” Joseph said. “It’s a great place, it’s a great town to work in. It’s about winning. That’s my goal, to win.”
Get the point?
All Elway has done since taking over in 2011 is win. The Broncos have never had a losing season with him as GM. They’ve made the playoffs five out of six times, been to two Super Bowls and won one of them. There is pressure to win, and to do it immediately. Elway has no patience for losing; he canned John Fox after he coached the Broncos to four straight AFC West titles.
The question is: Is Joseph, at 44 years old and with just a single season as a coordinator under his belt, ready for the pressure that comes with that responsibility?
Joseph, who was picked over two other candidates also without prior head coaching experience — Kyle Shanahan and Dave Toub — said all the right things Thursday. But the fact remains that despite the tremendous success Denver has experienced with Elway as GM, neither of the team’s head coaches in that time have made it to the end of their contracts.
Fox had two years and $11 million on his deal when he and Elway mutually agreed to part ways. Kubiak had two years and about $10 million left on his, but he retired from the job to focus on his health.
Working for Elway isn’t easy. Joseph, to his credit, sounds like he knows that going in.
“This job won’t be a rebuild, it’s a reboot,” he said. “It’s my job to find the small tweaks to work this into a winning team again.”
Small tweaks. It’s unclear what those will be right off the bat.
Joseph didn’t rule out the possibility of bringing back Wade Phillips as defensive coordinator, but he did lather praise on defensive backs coach Joe Woods, who some think could fill Phillips’ shoes.
Woods added that he wasn’t sure who he’d tab yet as offensive coordinator yet. Maybe familiar face Mike McCoy? Perhaps Bill Musgrave? Interviews are to come, then Joseph will make a decision.
The quarterback situation is also up in the air. The Broncos have Trevor Siemian and Paxton Lynch. Woods called it an “open competition.”
There’s a lot to be decided now that Elway has found his new head coach. There are many, many unknowns. What is certain are Elway’s expectations.
How would he react if Joseph goes, say 7-9 or 8-8 that first year? How would Joseph react? He’s young. This is all new. And he’s about to be thrown into the pressure cooker that is being the Broncos head coach.
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