Justin Simmons saw it coming.
Questions to the safety - who didn’t even play Sunday due to injury - about the putrid defensive performance on Sunday were clearly leading to blame defensive coordinator Vance Joseph.
Because, after all, his unit allowed SEVENTY POINTS to be scored in one football game.
But Simmons is not about to let the media pin it all on Joseph.
Following a question about whether players were rallying around the defensive coordinator, Simmons took offense and then went on defense.
“What are you trying to get from that question, is what I’m trying to ask?” Simmons said. “I think this: I think that question is trying to pin a certain narrative against the defense and whatever people think is being called and with Coach Joseph.”
Justin Simmons believes in Vance Joseph pic.twitter.com/j33nAYLP9r— DNVR Broncos (@DNVR_Broncos) September 27, 2023
But when you go to the tape, Simmons noted, it’s a different story.
“The moral of the story is this - you go watch that film and there are numerous amounts of things that, obviously, went wrong,” he said. “But in no way, shape or form does that ever come down to one person.”
Even though Simmons didn’t play, the veteran said he felt responsible “for a bunch of different things” that he wasn’t going to go into detail about, adding that other leaders on the defense felt the same way.
“That’s just not the standard we hold ourselves to,” Simmons added. “I’m not up here throwing a fit and cussing and showing a bunch of emotion, but it hurt. And that was embarrassing to just be a part of. By no means does that fall under the spectrum of one person.”
It’s fun to pretend that Vance Joseph is the problem, isn’t it? Then we don’t have to acknowledge just how far the Broncos are from being good again. Fact is, VJ doesn’t create his gameplan in a bubble. Sean Payton’s fingerprints are all over that performance, top to bottom.— Nate Jackson (@NathanSerious) September 25, 2023
Pat Surtain, who has consistently been a strong lockdown corner, found out just how fast that Miami offense is - and it wasn’t pretty. But Surtain insists the adversity the defense is facing is just temporary.
“We believe in him, he believes in us,” Surtain said of his defensive coordinator.
Simmons, who was in just his second year in the NFL when Joseph was hired as the Broncos’ head coach in 2017, has always liked playing in the typically man-heavy VJ defense.
“Coach Joseph, I believe in him and I believe in this staff,” Simmons said. “I believe in the players we have in the room. One game does not minimize or maximize what a select group is made of.”
No, it doesn’t, but that select group did have an embarrassing showing on Sunday, and Joseph took the heat for it during his regular Thursday presser.
“Obviously it wasn’t good. When your unit plays that way, my first thought is ‘it’s me’,” he said. “It was a tough day. ...I’ll fix it quickly. I have to.”
Broncos defensive coordinator Vance Joseph shoulders the responsibility for the 70-point tsunami that Miami foisted upon his Broncos defense last weekend. LIt’s always, in my opinion, me first. And I’ll fix it. Quickly. I have to.” pic.twitter.com/rUm81Xg2D0— Andrew Mason (@MaseDenver) September 28, 2023
Fixing it quickly is necessary - if even possible - but at least the lowly Bears offense is a good place to start.
Not having to match the ridiculous speed of the Dolphins will help.
“We were out of position a lot and chasing the speed. On Sunday, that speed was overwhelming,” Joseph admitted. “Obviously I didn’t get them ready for the speed and angles and have them in the right positions. I take it first.”
Joseph added that Sunday’s loss hurts, but the focus has to move on to Chicago.
Although the Bears offense has stalled so far, Joseph knows what kind of athlete Justin Fields is - and that always makes it a challenge.
“He’s a special athlete and can make every throw. As a passer, he can make every throw—outside, vertical, and inside the numbers. As a runner, he’s dynamic. He can break tackles, he’s not sliding, and he can make you miss,” Joseph said. “He’s a challenge to rush four and hope you can contain him or rush five and he can make every throw. It’s a cat and mouse game, but he’s obviously a gifted player. It’ll be a challenge to get him stopped.”
As for Simmons, who hopes to be on the field Sunday, playing another game can’t get here too soon.
“This next game can’t come fast enough, and a win kind of cures all things,” he said. “Sunday is a fresh slate.”
In the meantime, enjoy this feature clip on how Patrick Surtain II spends his off-days helping kids...something he’s going to have a lot of time to do since a post-season is looking highly unlikely.