What was once thought an impossible move by John Elway, actually, really, finally happened on Monday.
Vance Joseph is no longer the head coach of the Denver Broncos.
Breathe it in, Broncos Country. Let it flood your lungs. I’ve had to triple confirm the news and make sure Elway didn’t sleep on his decision and change his mind again.
All jokes aside, kudos to Elway for admitting his mistake and moving on. It’s never easy for one to admit when they’re wrong, but Elway did it. Elway had to do it, and many would say he should have done so at the end of the 2017 season.
Denver was in the thick of the playoffs a month ago, yet looked woefully unprepared at all levels since the calendar turned to December. The offensive and defensive game planning was horrible, the game and time management was a joke, the situational football was equally bad, and we all saw the results. Joseph and his staff were embarrassed at every turn the last quarter of the season.
Breaking: Broncos head coach Vance Joseph tells @JosinaAnderson that he has been fired. pic.twitter.com/3lVtlRc50z— NFL on ESPN (@ESPNNFL) December 31, 2018
This move had to happen.
It’s beyond evident that Joseph wasn’t going to figure it out in Denver. No amount of time or benefit of a doubt would change that. It’s also clear that Joseph and his staff were holding the Broncos back. A competent staff would win more than six games with this roster.
It’s never ideal for a franchise to be in a position where it will have its third head coach in three years, but it’s a far better scenario than delaying the inevitable in an untenable situation.
When you add in the (horrible) history Joseph has made in his two-year error in Denver, there was no doubt.
- The longest losing streak in 50 years (eight games last season)
- The first shutout loss in 25 years (21-0 to the Los Angeles Chargers last season)
- The first loss to the Cleveland Browns in 28 years (this season)
- The first back-to-back losing seasons in 46 years
- The first back-to-back double-digit loss seasons in 50 years
- Pat Bowlen’s remarkable accomplishment of more Super Bowl appearances (seven) than losing seasons has now vanished. It’s now equal.That’s still a powerful statistic but it doesn’t have the same impact.
This also turns up the heat on Elway and Joe Ellis. That kind of rank failure doesn’t fall on just one individual, and in the case of Elway, he hired Joseph. The leash for Elway and Ellis is now incredibly short, and if this doesn’t get turned around both need to go. The problem is this organization has no leadership at the top to hold even Ellis accountable.
As Adam Malnati and I talked about the MHR Radio Podcast, the obvious question: Now what?
Let the speculation begin.
The obvious starting point is still John Harbaugh. But for that to happen, Elway and the Broncos would have to trade for Harbaugh, and reports are the Baltimore Ravens want two first-round picks. It’s highly doubtful Elway would part with two-first round picks, but perhaps he could negotiate.
Pure hypothetical:— Benjamin Allbright (@AllbrightNFL) December 31, 2018
If the #Broncos offered to swap (pick 9/10) with the #Ravens for their first round pick (somewhere between 21-32) for John Harbaugh, who says no?
*By chart that swap is equal to giving somewhere between 1st rnd pick 23 and 2nd rnd pick 8.
If not Harbaugh, there’s the thought Elway could pluck the next up-and-coming coaching wunderkind, ala Sean McVay. One name to keep an eye on is Matt LaFleur, the current offensive coordinator for the Tennessee Titans. Another possibility is Eric Bieniemy, the offensive coordinator for the Kansas City Chiefs. Given the recent string of success former offensive coordinators in Kansas City have had as head coaches – Doug Pedersen and Matt Nagy – I’d be curious to see whether Elway would test the waters.
The key question with all of those guys is would Elway go that route again after just going down a similar path and failing? Time will tell. However, bringing in Harbaugh would allow the Broncos to hire a young offensive coordinator tied into the college game and changes to NFL offenses.
There’s also the experienced route where you have guys like Chuck Pagano, Jim Schwartz, Mike McCarthy and Ken Whisenhunt. There’s also a name Elway knows incredibly well from the last time he did this, Kansas City Chiefs special teams coordinator Dave Toub. He interviewed for Denver’s job two years ago and was a finalist.
Broncos to interview Brian Flores. Surely they won’t hire another Patriots assistant.— Woody Paige (@woodypaige) December 31, 2018
Elway could also go the college route, though that seems the riskiest unless it’s a guy like David Shaw. In that case, Elway can use his Stanford connection. It couldn’t hurt, right?
It will be interesting to see the path Elway takes over the next few weeks.
He took the first step in getting the Broncos back on the path to the Super Bowl by firing Joseph. Some might argue it was the toughest, yet most important move.
The move some thought would never come finally, actually, really did.
At least Elway didn’t sleep on it and change his mind.