The state of the Denver Broncos has had Broncos Country wondering for weeks if Vance Joseph has lost this team - debating whether he has lost the locker room as the Broncos take their foot off the brake on a downward skid. Players are playing undisciplined ball, fighting in practice, fighting in games and generally “going rogue” when it comes to talking to the media about their opinions of this state of affairs.
But losing the team and losing the locker room are two very different things as Les Shapiro and Eric Goodman point out in a rather interesting discussion beginning at the two-minute mark about what’s going on inside this team.
“I think players like Vance Joseph,” Goodman said, adding that “there’s nothing not to like. He’s a good guy.”
But as Shapiro pointed out, they can like and respect Joseph - and they do - but not have much confidence in him as their “coach.”
“They like Vance and they respect Vance and he does a good job communicating with players.” Shapiro said, adding that players always say how much they appreciate his honesty with them. “But that doesn’t mean he’s coaching well or that doesn’t mean they have confidence in the way he and his staff are coaching them. What tells me that Vance has lost some control is that players are going rogue - talking when shouldn’t be talking, tweeting when shouldn’t be tweeting, playing undisciplined ball and getting into fights.”
It’s a good point.
And the Aqib Talib situation is an excellent example of the loss of control throughout the organization.
Following the game, Joseph said Talib’s actions were “unacceptable.” Chris Harris said he was sucker-punched and that’s why Talib went after Crabtree. Then Talib argues that actually it was because Crabtree picked a fight, and then today John Elway defends Talib and argues he shouldn’t be suspended.”
“I’m not going to tell the Broncos how to do their job, but if you’re not going to tell the truth, at least make sure everybody is on the same page with the same lie,” Goodman said. “And they’re not.” (*editor’s note: hahahahahahahahahaha)
The main point - as Goodman highlights in an excellent observation - is that previous Broncos coaches like Gary Kubiak, Dan Reeves, Josh McDaniels and Mike Shanahan all had strong personalities to keep control of their teams. They may not have always been good coaches, but players knew they were in control.
The players like Joseph. They want to win for Joseph. They respect Joseph. He hasn’t lost the locker room.
But he has lost the team.
Players know he is not in charge - and that is crippling his ability to get control of his team both on and off the field.
“Who is running this team now? It’s not Vance Joseph,” Shapiro said, to which Goodman added, “Gary Kubiak has an iron personality that says ‘don’t push me around.’ Vance Joseph doesn’t strike me as that guy.”
So this strikes me as a very interesting debate - not whether Vance Joseph is a good coach, not whether we should have hired Kyle Shanahan, not any of those silly what ifs.
Rather, let’s consider what kind of coach is good for John Elway the GM? Better yet, what kind of coach does he need?
In fact, this question/situation reminds me of the early 90s when John Elway the QB basically had Dan Reeves booted and then-DC Wade Philips hired as head coach.
I thought then, and I believe even more now, that Elway just wanted a coach he could manipulate and do as he pleased with the offense. That worked for a little while because Elway could finally let loose and play QB like he wanted.
But ultimately, if the coach isn’t seen as the guy in charge, players lose confidence. And nothing is more of a death wish for a team than players without confidence. (See also “Broncos 2017.”).
Elway wants a coach he can influence. But he needs a coach who will stand up to him when he’s wrong - but one he respects in that. I hate to point out the obvious, but Gary Kubiak may be the only coach around who has the personality to stand up to Elway but also enough respect from No. 7 that his input will be considered rather than ignored.
In case the Broncos move on from Joseph in the offseason, finding a new head coach won’t be about finding a good coach for the players as much as finding a good fit for Elway.
Who is really in charge of this team?
This poll is closed
Vance Joseph still is.
It’s definitely Elway.
The ghost of Josh McDaniels