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Tackling, third downs on Vance Joseph’s agenda versus SF

The season’s literally just getting started.

Syndication: Arizona Republic Rob Schumacher/The Republic / USA TODAY NETWORK

Things just got started last Friday with the Denver Broncos’ narrow defeat against Arizona.

Am I nervous because we lost our first preseason game? No. I mean, I am nervous, but not because of this game. Come to think of it, we’ve done pretty well the last few preseasons. In 2021 we were undefeated, and last season we won 2/3. If there was a preseason Super Bowl, we probably could’ve gone.

And Broncos Country remembers how great each of those regular seasons were...

So I don’t think Friday’s game was indicative of how the season’s going to be. Beyond that, training camp goes on, so we’ll move past the exhibition game loss quickly.

Vance Joseph, a former head coach for the Broncos who is now returning as defensive coordinator, shared his own thoughts about the game and how they can improve for their matchup against San Francisco.

“You want to get them stopped,” Joseph shared teasingly about Arizona’s final offensive drive of the game, “All kidding aside, most NFL games come down to two minutes...the penalty was big on that drive and having the quarterback break contain in the high red zone was a problem.”

Joseph went on to recount that with seconds left, everything changed. “It’s just more education for our players to understand where we were with nine seconds and where the ball was.”

With this learning moment in their arsenal, the DC has faith that their secondary will propel forward into the season hungry for strong performances. He mentioned OLB Randy Gregory specifically, sharing that he “is what you want.”

“You want rushers,” Joseph explained, “Randy is an elite rusher. His best days are ahead of him hopefully, but he is having a solid camp...he’s made some splash plays in the running game. That’s been surprising to me, but he is what you want.”

Looking ahead to their game versus the San Francisco 49ers, Joseph highlighted some of the things he wants to see the secondary improve on.

“I think our tackling wasn’t great in that game,” he admitted, describing the scene to have a lot of leaky yardage.”

“On contact, they were pushing for two or three more yards, so [we want] improved tackling. That will be a focus, obviously, and winning more third downs. We lost half of our third downs. That’s not good enough.”

Joseph emphasized that those two areas, tackling and winning third downs, are their main skill targets right now.

And given a team that’s been riddled with injuries for some time now, the skills aren’t the only thing to worry about. There’s also player health. Asked about the difficulty of losing key players to injury, Joseph actually had a relatively optimistic viewpoint. He mentioned that it’s an opportunity for newcomers to get reps, and that the “veterans” are used to the system so they won’t have a problem falling back into it after they heal.

“Injuries are going to happen. It’s going to happen now, midseason, and even late in the season,” he admitted, “It’s a great opportunity for our young guys to get needed reps and time on the grass.”