By Romi Bean
INDIANAPOLIS (CBS4) – It came as a surprise to some that John Elway decided to retain Vance Joseph as head coach after the Broncos finished 5-and-11 last season.
For the second consecutive year, the Broncos missed the playoffs – but this time by a mile – they finished dead last in the AFC West.
But, take into consideration the hand Joseph was dealt – three different starting quarterbacks, a rookie left tackle, and a defense trying to reestablish themselves with a new coordinator.
In reality, it’s hard to blame everything on VJ. So, Elway is giving Joseph another year to prove his worth, and the General Manager is confident in his coach.
“I think he’ll be a better coach just from what he experienced last year having gone through that. It’s like I said, it’s like drinking through a fire hose for him,” Elway said. “A lot of times you don’t know what you’re getting into until you actually become the head coach. I think Vance is a great young coach with a lot of energy. I was impressed with as positive as he stayed throughout the year with the energy level that he had, which is very difficult to do. I think Vance is going to grow a lot this year and I think he’ll make big strides this year.”
Elway’s desire for a better team includes anyone and everyone – not just coaching, not just offense. Elway was disappointed in what he saw from the Broncos defense in 2017, particularly how they responded after turnovers.
The defense has anchored the Broncos over the last few years.
After a remarkable 2015 season that ended with a Super Bowl victory, the unit has been Denver’s heroes. It’s only been two seasons since the confetti came pouring down, but things have changed.
Last season, the defense ranked 22nd in the league in points allowed. The defense isn’t failing by any means, but Elway does expect more from the elite unit.
“I think we’re always trying to make our football team better. We’ve got to get better on the offensive side, but we want also to try and be as good or maintain defensively, if not get better,” he said. “Defensively we were 21st in scoring last year. That shows we have a lot of improvement to do on the defensive side, too. Defense has been our base the last four or five years and what we kind of built around. I’m not saying that is changing, but we definitely have to get better on the offensive side.”
Based on everything we’ve seen from the defense over the last few years, it’s pretty clear they’ll be more than happy to accept Elway’s challenge to be better.
But the unit might look different in 2018 – Cornerback Aqib Talib is the likeliest to not return, as Denver would save big by releasing him. But another big player to watch is linebacker Todd Davis who becomes a free agent in March. Elway said he wants Davis back, but if he tests the market, the price might be too high.