It’s a new year. Let’s move past the old year.
With John Elway’s decision to retain Vance Joseph, the Denver Broncos are committed to giving this union another try. In their end of the year news conference, both men provided a bit of calm in their no nonsense comments about how the 5-11 season played out for the franchise.
The first step in that process was Elway’s decision to keep Joseph. Many felt the player’s lobbied hard and swayed Elway on this, but ultimately it probably came down to Elway’s own failures as a General Manager to provide a first-year head coach with the best opportunity to succeed. In other words, he left the guy with Trevor Siemian, Paxton Lynch, and Brock Osweiler as his quarterbacks.
“That’s the way that I wanted to go,” Elway said. “But it’s my responsibility to think about other options to see what would be best for the football team. We thought about different options, but ultimately, my goal was to stick with Vance and give him that shot. I would say I also want to give him the best opportunity to be successful. I don’t feel like we gave him that chance. We had some positions that didn’t play very well, that I thought would play better than they played. That part is on me. We will get that part fixed this coming year.
“Hopefully we solve those issues and give Vance and his staff the best opportunity to be successful. Looking back, I feel good about the fact that we can stay where we are. With Vance making some changes on his staff that he’ll talk about, we have a chance to get better as a football team.”
Every part of these statements reek of a man anxious to jettison every single quarterback to fielded a snap last season and bring in some fresh blood - a franchise-type player - to give Vance Joseph every opportunity to sink or swim in 2018.
As for Joseph, he impressed me by identifying critical mistakes he made as a head coach and where he hopes to drive the bus more in terms of being the man in charge with the coaching staff - not just with the players.
“It wasn’t something that I didn’t expect as far as being a head coach,” Joseph said of where he needs to improve. “I’ve been in this league a long time. But obviously, things come up that aren’t football related. As a first time head coach, I can say this: Early on in the season, I didn’t do a good job of pushing our coaches to make the proper changes that I thought could have helped us. I allowed guys to coach—that was my goal— but I wasn’t very good at coaching the coaches. I’ll get better at that. That was one of my shortcomings. Again, it’s a big job and it’s a job that you can get better at. I will get better at those things. When you’re 5-11, it wasn’t good enough from my chair and that will change.”
It is incredibly hard to self-evaluate at any level of one’s professional life, but for a head coach to do it is remarkable. Those tend to be strong personality types who thrive on ego and self-confidence. For Joseph to be able to reflect and see how he stumbled along the way and focus on the actions necessary to correct those issues gives me hope.
With Elway keyed in on quarterback changes - he was quite wishy washy went asked if even one of the three quarterbacks on the roster would be part of the team’s 2018 plans - the question then became one of how he would go about addressing the position and the offense in general.
The decisions would be tough, but Elway didn’t seem too keen on taking away their strengths to boost an offensive position.
“We’ll go back and go through that thought process and try to figure out what the plan is going to be,” Elway said. “Looking at every player and see where we are monetarily—obviously we have to worry about that budget-wise. That will be the process that we’ll go through. As [the] time comes, we’ll also play out to what’s available in free agency. Also, we’ve been through the process with the draft and have a feel of where the strengths are in the draft.
“Once we get away, we’ll let the dust settle on this year and then come back and we’ll start putting that plan together to see exactly what we’re going to do. I really don’t like taking away from a strength; I don’t like doing that. I think that because if it’s a known strength and you’re not that positive that you’re going into another strength, I like what I know rather than what I might not know even though I think it might help us. I don’t like taking away from strengths.”
To me, Aqib Talib would be a strength. However, guys like Menelik Watson, C.J. Anderson, or other players - both good and bad - with higher price tags could be on the chopping block to free up cap space heading into free agency.
As much as I like Anderson, he is a heck of a lot more replaceable than Talib. Then you have other aging veterans like Emmanuel Sanders who could be facing an exit and you begin to see a path to a high-priced free agent like Kirk Cousins becoming a reality without losing a strength like Talib outside.
But who knows. A lot can happen between now and March. Plan B can always be the 5th pick in the 2018 NFL Draft. Either way, I feel a heck of a lot better about Joseph remaining the head coach after hearing the beginnings of Elway’s and Joseph’s plan to right the Broncos ship next season.