With just under a week left until the NFL Combine, Denver Broncos head coach Sean Payton has taken the next step in completing his coaching staff.
According to Peter Schrager of Fox Sports, the Broncos are hiring former Arizona Cardinals defensive coordinator Vance Joseph.
This will be Joseph’s second time being hired by the Broncos after he spent the two years as Denver’s head coach, but was never given full control of the team.
After being fired by Denver, Joseph spent the last four seasons calling plays for the Cardinals’ defense. Arizona never ranked in the top-10 of scoring defense, but in 2021, Joseph’s defense finished the season seventh in takeaways. That would also be the only season in which the Cardinals made it to the playoffs.
James Palmer of the NFL Network is reporting that Joseph will keep defensive line coach Marcus Dixon and defensive backs coach Christian Parker.
In the seven years calling defensive plays, Joseph’s defenses have never finished the season in the top-10 of scoring defense.
Joseph’s Time as Head Coach of the Broncos
The Broncos hired Joseph in 2017 after Super Bowl winning head coach Gary Kubiak told the team that he was stepping down as head coach before the final game of the 2016 season.
With candidates available like Kyle Shanahan and Sean McVay, the Broncos decided to go with Joseph who called plays for the first time with the Miami Dolphins in 2016.
Before the Broncos hired Wade Phillips to be the defensive coordinator in 2015, Denver tried to hire Joseph as their defensive coordinator, but the Cincinnati Bengals blocked Denver’s request even though he was their defensive backs coach.
After going 5-11 during his first season, there was a real chance that the Broncos were going to move on from the first-time head coach, but former general manager John Elway told the media that he needed to “sleep on it” before making his final decision.
After waking up the next day, Elway decided to keep Joseph for another year before firing him after the 2018 season with an improved 6-10 record.
In Joseph’s two seasons with the Broncos, his defenses ranked 22nd and 13th in scoring.
While the Broncos front office didn’t help Joseph much by not giving him much control of the team, Elway tossed out quarterbacks, Trevor Siemian, Brock Osweiler, Paxton Lynch, and Case Keenum for Joseph to work with.
None of the quarterbacks had winning records in the two years under Joseph.
Other Candidates That Denver Interviewed
Since being hired, Payton interviewed a number of candidates and made sure he was patient doing so.
During Super Bowl week, while doing interviews on radio row, Payton interviewed certain candidates virtually.
According to Jeff Legwold of ESPN, Payton interviewed former NFL head coach and current NFL analyst for ESPN, Rex Ryan.
Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network reported on February 15, that Ryan had emerged as a favorite to become Denver’s defensive coordinator.
The Broncos also interviewed Seattle Seahawks associate head coach Sean Desai and current Broncos defensive backs coach Christian Parker.
Legwold also mentioned that former Minnesota Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer also interviewed for an unspecified role even though Zimmer is expected to join Deion Sanders at the University of Colorado.