After Vance Joseph was announced as the new head coach of the Denver Broncos, former CU Buff wide receiver and Olympic skier Jeremy Bloom tweeted that Joseph had been one of his favorite coaches.
Bloom, an All-American at CU who played two years in the NFL and was also a three-time world champion and two-time Olympian in freestyle skiing, took time to answer a few questions for MHR about Joseph to give us a little more insight into just why Joseph is considered a great coach despite not much experience at the top levels.
“His ability to personally connect with players and build trust is equally matched by his ability to provide tough love and constructive criticism,” said Bloom, who currently heads up his marketing software company, Integrate, as well as runs the charity he originally founded in honor of his grandmother, Wish of a Lifetime, which grants wishes to low-income seniors (and in his words, is “kicking butt” right now!)
MHR - You tweeted that Vance Joseph was one of your favorite coaches, which is high praise from a guy who has no doubt had many coaches. What specifically made him one of your favorites?
JB: Typically a coach is either a player’s coach or a strong disciplinarian type of leader. Coach VJ’s unique capability to do both had a lasting impression on me. His ability to personally connect with players and build trust is equally matched by his ability to provide tough love and constructive criticism. This is a coaching art that I think few have mastered as well as Coach VJ.
MHR - One of the main things highlighted about Vance being tapped for a head coach - despite no pro head coach experience - were his "intangibles" like leadership, communication, motivation. Would you agree those are strengths of his and do you think those do speak to his ability to be a head coach for a championship-caliber team like the Broncos?
JB: We are seeing an emerging trend in the NFL that mirrors leadership philosophies of tech companies. Young talented head coaches are more highly coveted than ever. We saw this play out when the L.A. Rams made Sean McVay the youngest head coach in NFL history at the age of 30. Coach VJ is 14 years his senior but also thought of as a young rising star in the NFL.
The majority of NFL players are millennials, a generation that grew up much differently than any other generation that preceded them. Owners are placing a premium on coaches who can best connect with the players to build trust and confidence. And if you believe that team chemistry is one of the most important attributes to building a championship team, then it makes sense why owners are calling upon younger head coaches to lead their organizations.
MHR - In 2015-16, Gary Kubiak did a great job handling the egos in the locker room and preventing and real chasm between players, but this season there were obvious issues that came out in public and on the sidelines. How do you think Vance will be able to fix that moving forward?
JB: One of VJ’s best qualities is that he is not a reactive leader. He is measured and thoughtful when dealing with challenging situations. This even keeled approach often resonates with players when a team is going through adversity or difficult times.
MHR - A number of fans seem disappointed in the hire, specifically worried about his lack of experience as well as not having the "tangibles" like a lot of proven success over time with the teams he has coached. How would you allay their fears regarding Vance?
JB: I think we are still recovering from the hangover of the 2009 hiring of Josh McDaniels, who was only 32 at the time. I also think Coach VJ is fighting a Shanahan-lineage bias because we all know the great things that Mike did in Denver, and we also know that a lot of fans wanted Kyle. However, there is only one thing in the NFL that solves all skepticism and doubt - winning. I know coach VJ well enough to know that he fully accepts that as his mandate.
MHR - Kyle Shanahan was considered an Xs and Os genius. How do you think Vance will do in this area - specifically when it comes to creating a game plan and/or dealing with in-game adjustments for the team?
JB: Like any good head coach or leader, he will surround himself with coaches that he would work for. VJ has been well respected everywhere he has been, including in the college ranks of Colorado and the pro ranks of San Francisco, Houston, Cincinnati and Miami. There is no doubt in my mind that he will earn the respect of the players and fans.
MHR - On the flip side, do you think being an "Xs and Os genius" is the most important skill set for the head coach?
JB: I think the most important skills of a head coach are:
- Sharp eye for talent
- Transparency with the players
- Authenticity in the way you lead
The most talented rosters rarely win the championships.
Every coach in the NFL knows the Xs and Os...that’s not what separates the good ones from the great ones.
It’s the team that can figure out a way to play together with one unified heartbeat that often prevails to the top.