Denver Broncos Defensive Coordinator Vance Joseph Faces Criticism
If one sports columnist had their way with the Denver Broncos, defensive coordinator Vance Joseph would be gone “not at the end of the season, but now.”
Denver Gazette columnist Woody Paige has seen enough, the Broncos’ Week 2 loss to the Washington Commanders being the final straw.
“Opposing offenses scoring 35 points on a Vance Joseph defenseless defense is not an aberration, Broncos Nation must realize with resignation,” said Paige in his September 18 column. “Joseph has to go — again. Not at the end of the season, but now.”
Paige stated Joseph has never “produced a top-10 defense, in points permitted, as a coordinator or head coach.”
Joseph was the Miami Dolphins’ DC in 2016 before being hired as the Broncos head coach the following year. Denver’s decline was pointed out by Paige, using Miami’s defense as a reference point.
“In 2016, Joseph oversaw a Dolphins defense that allowed 31, 30, 38, 31 and, yes, 35 points in games. Then, after Joseph was chosen by the Broncos to be head coach in 2017, his defense was devastated by the Dolphins for, yes, 35 points, and — get this — 41 by the Patriots and 51 by the Eagles.”
Before Joseph’s arrival, the Broncos were fourth in scoring defense at 18.6 points allowed per game. In his first year as HC, Denver dropped to 22nd.
Paige wants to see drastic improvement, or a change has to be made.
“Perhaps Vance will advance the usual anemic quote from his head-coaching error: ‘We had a good week of practice.’ He once announced a new slogan: ‘Not surviving,’ which had no meaning then. But it does now. Joseph deserves “not surviving’’ unless the defense drastically improves immediately.”
Payton Called Out Joseph’s Defense Following Week 2 Loss
It’s hardly a good sign when Joseph’s defense has been criticized this early into the campaign. Head coach Sean Payton was noticeably disappointed in the unit’s effort following the loss.
“I thought we were poor,” Payton said to reporters on September 17. “We didn’t help them with the field position, with the turnover, but our red zone defense was poor.”
Payton explained that the Broncos are “going to see a lot better offenses than that.”
Week 3 against the Dolphins will be the start. Miami has averaged 30 points a game through two games, with Tua Tagovailoa and Tyreek Hill leading the charge.
Payton wasn’t impressed with Joseph’s scheme in the second half that allowed Washington to complete the comeback.
“I think in the second half, I didn’t like the rushing numbers that I thought we played well with in the first half.”
Through the first two weeks of the 2023 season, Denver has allowed 26 more points than they did at the same point in 2022.
Champ Bailey Praises Broncos Defensive Standouts
Thankfully, it hasn’t been all doom and gloom for the Broncos. At least not when it pertains to Patrick Surtain II and Justin Simmons.
Hall of Fame CB Champ Bailey praised the defensive standouts despite Denver’s 0-2 start. Bailey believes Surtain will be “one of the all-time greats.”
“He can have a Hall-of-Fame career, and he’s on his way. I’m not going to shy away from putting those lofty goals in front of him. I’m sure he’s just thinking about the next game. When you see it, you see it,” said Bailey per John Riker of the Broncos’ official website.
Surtain is considered one of the top players at his position and was named a first-team All-Pro in 2022. Bailey made sure to give Simmons his due as well.
“I keep thinking he’s peaking, and he just keeps getting better. You can just tell, every year he gets more and more comfortable with what he has to do. He’s a great leader; [he] leads by example. When you talk about a Bronco great, he’s going to be one of those that you talk about — one of the greats.”
Last season, Simmons tied for the league lead in interceptions with six in 12 games.
Evan Craig covers the NFL for Heavy.com, with a focus on the Denver Broncos. He has also covered the NFL for SB Nation’s Turf Show Times since 2021. More about Evan Craig
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