New Bron­cos coach has a tough act to fol­low

The Reporter (Lansdale, PA) - - SPORTS - By Arnie Sta­ple­ton

In the Denver Bron­cos, Vance Joseph saw a cham­pi­onship cul­ture, im­pres­sive ros­ter, proven front of­fice, esteemed own­er­ship and fer­vent fan base, a com­bi­na­tion not of­ten seen in an NFL head coach open­ing.

“It’s not a re­build, it’s a re­boot,” Joseph said Thurs­day as he was in­tro­duced as Gary Ku­biak’s suc­ces­sor.

While not bro­ken, the Bron­cos do need some work af­ter fail­ing to make the play­offs to de­fend their Su­per Bowl 50 ti­tle.

In Joseph, El­way saw just the man for the job .

“This team is less than a year re­moved from a world cham­pi­onship,” El­way said. “So it’s very im­por­tant to find some­body that can fit the cul­ture that we have” and mix in some fresh ideas. “Vance checks that box. He has that.”

El­way said Joseph has that rare mix of com­mand and charisma, com­mu­ni­ca­tion and con­trol, and “af­ter the shock of Gary step­ping down ... I couldn’t be hap­pier with the abil­ity to fill Gary’s shoes with Vance Joseph.”

“He’s the per­fect fit for us,” El­way said of the 44-year-old for­mer Univer­sity of Colorado quar­ter­back who’s built a rep­u­ta­tion as one of the bright, young de­fen­sive minds in foot­ball over his dozen sea­sons as an NFL as­sis­tant.

“I will say this: he’s very smart — he’s an exquar­ter­back,” El­way said with only the slight­est of smirks. “So, you think he only knows the de­fen­sive side, but he’s aware of what we need to do on the of­fen­sive side, too. And I think that why the com­bi­na­tion is tremen­dous.”

Joseph called it his dream job, one that’s more of a touch-up than a fixer-up.

“It’s my job to find the small tweaks to make this team a win­ning team again. That’s my call of duty right now and hope­fully we can do that quickly,” he said.

It’s also a pres­sure cooker that’s driven out the last two coaches with two years left on their con­tracts.

Ku­biak cited health con­cerns in step­ping down last week. He went 24-11, in­clud­ing a 24-10 win over Carolina in last year’s Su­per Bowl that came a year af­ter John Fox bolted to the re­build­ing Bears fol­low­ing a 49-22 run in Denver.

Joseph said he views that pres­sure as a pos­i­tive.

“Ab­so­lutely, we have to em­brace the cul­ture here,” Joseph said. “I mean, who wants to lose? So, I’d rather get a job where you’re ex­pected to win than a job where win­ning four or five games is OK.”

El­way was wise not to let Joseph leave town af­ter their in­ter­view Tues­day. Af­ter din­ner at El­way’s sig­na­ture steak­house that evening, Joseph can­celed his Cal­i­for­nia trip to meet with the Charg­ers, 49ers and Rams about their head coach­ing va­can­cies.

Joseph spent the first half of his NFL coach­ing ca­reer in San Fran­cisco.

“I’m a great friend of (49ers CEO) Jed York’s, so that was in­trigu­ing also,” Joseph said. “But again, for a first-time head coach to have a chance to be with a team like the Denver Bron­cos, that’s a win­ning foot­ball team, that’s not bro­ken, that’s rare. Your first op­por­tu­nity is usu­ally an op­por­tu­nity to re­build.

“It’s very sim­i­lar to when Mike Tom­lin took over in Pitts­burgh and they were a year out of win­ning the big game and Mike took over with two ex­pe­ri­enced co­or­di­na­tors and they didn’t miss a beat.”

Joseph could do the same in Denver by hir­ing ei­ther Mike McCoy or Bill Mus­grave as his of­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor and re­new­ing Wade Phillips’ con­tract as Denver’s de­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor.

Joseph noted, how­ever, that Phillips is a “free agent, so he’s free to go where he wants to go.”

If Phillips leaves, se­condary coach Joe Woods is a strong can­di­date for pro­mo­tion.

Who­ever gets the gig will be call­ing the plays on de­fense.

“I pre­fer not to call plays — I want to be the head coach here, but if I have to I will,” Joseph said.

As for Joseph’s of­fense, the Bron­cos will re­sem­ble Fox’s air-it-out style more than Ku­biak’s grind-it-out ways.

DAVID ZALUBOWSKI — THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Vance Joseph re­sponds to ques­tions af­ter he was in­tro­duced as the new head coach of the Denver Bron­cos NFL foot­ball team dur­ing a news con­fer­ence at the team’s head­quar­ters Thurs­day in En­gle­wood, Colo.

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