I’ve seen many coaching shake-ups happen over the years and every time it happens, as a fan I find it fascinating. Change is energizing and coaching in the NFL is no exception to that. The team has a lot of new faces on its coaching staff, which tends to fly under the radar this time of year since all the talk is focused mainly on the players.
Vance Joseph replaces Gary Kubiak at the helm of the Broncos. Most of the storylines so far lean to Joseph being a John Elway “Yes” man.
While that may have some serious truth to it, this is a young coach who is looking to establish his career and is in possibly the best situation any new head coach could possibly have. He has a very strong GM in Elway, a winning franchise in the Broncos, and a highly talented roster to work with - including a team that is coming off of a winning season.
It will be interesting to put this new coach under the microscope as the year progresses and see how he handles adversity, a young QB, a new team with mile high expectations. Will the established veterans fall in line? Can he get the young offense whipped into shape? How well will he manage the game in his first year calling the shots as the HC?
Special Teams Coach
Don’t overlook the change in Special Teams coaching with Brock Olivo taking over. Denver saw the Kansas City Chiefs Special Teams be an absolutely potent weapon last season with very little resembling that level of output in its own squad. If you haven’t caught any of Olivo’s press conferences yet, do yourself a favor and go look some of them up...he’s a wired guy who is going to instill some passion into whoever suits up on the special teams units for the Orange and Blue this year.
His main order of business is going to be finding a potent returner. Denver hasn’t really seen one who was a threat to house the ball on any given return since Trindon Holliday. Olivo will be seeing if one of the new young guns in Carlos Henderson or Isaiah McKenzie can bring the potency the team is looking for in a scoring threat in their return game.
The two big names for the Broncos on the offensive side of the ball are Mike McCoy and Bill Musgrave. These are two coaches who have been in the NFL and are known for their offensive minds. The signing of both to me show that the Broncos are looking for a more modern offense that is built to take advantage of the player’s strengths instead of asking the players to fit into the mold of any particular system.
In McCoy you have a coach who has worked with both the most limited passing NFL QB as a starting option (Tim Tebow) and the game’s best in Peyton Manning. He’s a guy who has a big-time brain for the game of football and speaks often about his own ability to form an offense to fit the skill set of his quarterbacks.
Bill Musgrave brings to the table some fairly impressive experience in taking young quarterbacks like Matt Ryan and David Carr and making them into Pro Bowl-level quarterbacks.
The pedigree is there for both of these coaches and as a fan of the game of football, I’m very excited to see what this meeting of the minds brings to the Broncos fortunes. What kind of offense will they craft for the young QBs? What kind of running game will they craft? How well will they establish some semblance of a line to protect the QB and have a successful rushing attack?
The story on the defensive side of the ball is the departure of Wade Phillips coinciding with the promotion of Joe Woods to Defensive Coordinator. With the experience in this defense, many say that not much will be changing on the defensive side of the ball. That may at its roots be true, but every coordinator I’ve seen wants his fingerprints on the team, and Woods will be no exception. He’s a young, smart coach who by all accounts has a big-time mind for the game. Being paired with another bright young coach in Vance Joseph you have to think they are going to evolve the defense and add some wrinkles that Broncos Country hasn’t seen in recent years.
I will say that I think expecting the defense to stay top 5 in the NFL for the third year in a row is a very tall order. Wade Phillips is arguably the best defensive coordinator in the NFL. This defense is absolutely stocked with talent, so they can still be great, but the first few weeks of the season will be very telling as far as how the team adjusts to new leadership.
Can the coaches keep the No Fly Zone atop the NFL in pass defense for the third straight year in a row? Will they be able to either find the right players to plug the hole in the run defense from 2016 or adjust the scheme to at least shore it up? How aggressive will the play calling be and how risk-averse will it be?
Which "coaching group" will bring the most improvement over last season?
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Special Teams coordinator