The speculation about Vance Joseph’s job security ended Monday morning. He’s staying as Denver Broncos coach. It seems like it could have gone either way.
Joseph was under intense scrutiny by the end of the season. The Broncos began the season 3-1, and finished it 5-11. Offensive coordinator Mike McCoy was fired during the season. Other changes might be made, but general manager John Elway announced Joseph would return for a second season.
Vance and I had a great talk this morning about our plan to attack this offseason and get better as a team. We believe in Vance as our head coach. Together, we'll put in the work to improve in all areas and win in 2018.
— John Elway (@johnelway) January 1, 2018
Joseph was in a very tough spot. He had never been a head coach, and had been a coordinator for only one year. He was hired to coach a team that was a season removed from winning a Super Bowl. And he had to do it with a quarterback situation that was among the worst in the NFL. The Broncos changed quarterbacks five times during the season, due to injuries or benchings among Trevor Siemian, Brock Osweiler and Paxton Lynch. He was expected to win big right away, but that was a daunting challenge.
The pressure won’t be any less next season. The Broncos still have the same expectations, the quarterback position is still a question, Elway is impatient and Joseph was on the hot seat and survived once already. By letting the Joseph question linger until Monday, Elway might have inadvertently increased the pressure on his coach. There seems to be little question Joseph will start the 2018 season on the hot seat.
There might not be a set number of wins the Broncos have to hit to get a third season, but it’s probably fair to assume 5-11 won’t do it. He’ll have to show improvement even though he doesn’t have final say over who his quarterback will be. Hopefully for Joseph, Elway lands Kirk Cousins or someone who can stabilize the position.
It’s not an ideal situation. Every NFL coach faces annual pressure to varying degrees, but every time the Broncos lose a game there will be questions about Joseph. Many Broncos fans were calling for him to be fired after just one season. He needs to win next season and do it fast.
That’s not to say Joseph can’t succeed in 2018 and for many years after. His first year as a head coach didn’t go well, but coaches have rookie mistakes too. Joseph might be much more comfortable in his second season and the results will follow. But Joseph will be near the top of every “coach on the hot seat” list this offseason. He has a lot to prove, and probably not much time to prove it.
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