When the Denver Broncos lost head coach Gary Kubiak, they were left in a unique situation. Unlike most teams searching for a head coach after being fired for a poor season, Kubiak stepped down for health reasons just one season after winning Super Bowl 50. For the Broncos, this meant they weren’t thrust into a rebuilding season. They already talent in place and a solid foundation to build upon.
Their search for a head coach didn’t last long at all. Just three days after the Miami Dolphins were eliminated from the playoffs, the Broncos swooped in and hired defensive coordinator Vance Joseph. While plenty of less informed Dolphins fans were happy to see Joseph go, Broncos fans should be through the roof with excitement. Denver has a young, defensive minded well-regarded coach who can be their leader for years to come. What are the Denver Broncos getting?
When it comes to pass defenses, no one was better than the Denver Broncos in 2016. They lead the league allowing only 2,972 yards, gave up just 13 touchdowns, and allowed quarterbacks to complete barely over 55% of their passes. Joseph entered the league as an assistant defensive backs coach for the 49ers. He’d spend the next 10 years in that position until the Dolphins hired him as their defensive coordinator. Putting a secondary coach in charge of the plays for a league-leading defense only builds on that success. If the Broncos weren’t stingy on defense before teams should be worried now.
His first season as a coordinator was a tough one. The biggest hurdle for the Miami Dolphins this season was overcoming injuries. On defense, the Dolphins were without starters Rashad Jones, Isa Abdul-Qudus, Xavien Howard and Byron Maxwell in their secondary for large chunks of the season. Got by without Koa Misi or Jelani Jenkins at linebacker. Started the season with an ailing Cameron Wake and lost Earl Mitchell on the defensive line. That’s 7 starters on the defensive side of the ball. Miami went on to win 9 of their last 11 by piecing together what was left of a decimated defense. A defense that if you go back and watch kept them in a lot more games than they lost.
While some criticize Joseph because the Dolphins gave up more yards than any other season in franchise history, his season was not without success. It was what most expected as a first-time defensive coordinator. His defense had plenty of promise but was far from mistake-free football. Given his ability to adjust, the Dolphins needed another offseason and key role players from being a dominant defense. Joseph brings a passionate straight forward attitude to coaching. If the Broncos can hire an offensive coordinator with prior success, it won’t be long before they’re Super Bowl champs again.