The Denver Broncos have a new head coach.
Vance Joseph has officially been hired to replace the retired Gary Kubiak, Broncos football czar John Elway announced Wednesday. NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reports that Joseph signed a four-year deal.
Spending the past season as defensive coordinator of the Miami Dolphins, Joseph staged his first interview with the club on Tuesday before returning for a second meeting on Wednesday with Elway. This time around, Joseph stayed.
“He has great leadership qualities and a strong vision of what it takes to win,” Elway tweeted of Joseph on Tuesday.
Joseph worked under Kubiak for three seasons — from 2011 to 2013 — as a defensive backs aide for the Houston Texans. He served in the same capacity the following two years in Cincinnati before Dolphins coach Adam Gase nabbed Joseph as his defensive coordinator in 2016.
“Going against him over the last few years, he was probably the one guy that would drive me nuts,” Gase said of Joseph, per DenverBroncos.com. “I know he gave us tons of fits when we played him when we were in Houston. And then two years ago when he was in Cincinnati and we were in Denver, it was a tough matchup. I think his DBs picked us off four times.
“His knowledge of defense and what he brings to the table and his ability to really go after an offense, as far as really teaching his guys what’s going on, it’s very impressive.”
Miami’s defense struggled under Joseph down the stretch — and collapsed Sunday against the Steelers — but that failed to shake Denver’s intense interest in the respected 44-year-old coach. Elway conducts his searches carefully and certainly leaned on Kubiak and former Broncos play-caller Gase for insight into Joseph’s development and potential.
Seen by many as the NFL’s premier vacancy, the Broncos give Joseph plenty to work with on defense. One season removed from Super Bowl glory, Denver remains a dangerous and disruptive unit on this side of the ball while anchored by All-Pro pass rusher Von Miller.
Also boasting a nasty secondary led by cornerbacks Chris Harris and Aqib Talib, Denver’s roster puts Joseph in a position to win right away. The question is whether he can elevate this defense to the heights it reached under former coordinator Wade Phillips, whose contract has expired.
Rapoport told NFL Network there is “a chance” that Phillips could stay on as coordinator, but current Broncos defensive backs aide Joe Woods looms as another potential target. Rapoport noted that Dolphins linebackers coach Matt Burke will take over coordinating duties in Miami.
Joseph must also gather the right offensive assistants to groom two young quarterbacks — Trevor Siemian and Paxton Lynch — who will battle all spring and summer for the team’s No. 1 spot under center. Rapoport noted that recently fired Chargers coach Mike McCoy, who used to call plays for the Broncos, looms as a potential target for Joseph’s staff.
Elway had plenty of quality candidates to choose from. After what he’s pulled off during his tenure in Denver, the quarterback-turned-front-office-guru has earned our trust. This is Joseph’s team now.