Connor McGovern

Broncos HC Vance Joseph Still On The Hot Seat

The Broncos nearly fired head coach Vance Joseph at the end of the 2017 season, and even though team president and CEO Joe Ellis publicly backed Joseph several days ago, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reports that Joseph’s job security is tenuous at best.

Denver is in the midst of a three-game losing streak, and Rapoport writes that upper management will be closely monitoring Joseph’s performance over the next few weeks. The clear implication is that, if the team does not perform well during that time, Joseph could be axed before the season is over, and perhaps as soon as next month.

Joseph, with his job on the line, has made a series of changes in an effort to save himself. As Rapoport and Mike Klis of 9News.com write, Joseph will take on a more active role in defensive play-calling, although defensive coordinator Joe Woods will continue to be the primary play-caller for a unit that ranks No. 26 in the league in yards per game. Also, as was speculated yesterday, Max Garcia will start at right guard this afternoon in place of Connor McGovern, and both Klis and Rapoport note that practices were shorter this week while the number of team meetings were increased.

Joseph, whose club suffered an eight-game losing streak last year, will have a tall order against the 5-0 Rams today. The Broncos will get an eminently winnable game on a short week this Thursday, when they take on the Cardinals, but they will then head to Kansas City to take on the league’s only other defeated team, the Chiefs.

Given the Broncos’ upcoming opponents — Denver will also host the Texans before their bye week — it is difficult to say exactly what they need to do in order for Joseph to keep his job. But our readers believe that Joseph will be the next coach to get a pink slip, and today’s report only serves to support that notion.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Broncos Notes: Keenum, Draft, Joseph, OL

Case Keenum‘s gotten off to a rough start with the Broncos, going from being the No. 1 DVOA quarterback during a potential outlier 2017 season to sitting 24th in that metric and 31st in Total QBR through five games this season. However, this is unlikely to produce a Chad Kelly promotion in the near future, with Albert Breer of SI.com noting the sense he’s getting is any such switch won’t come until the team falls out of contention. Denver won its first two games but has lost its past three, and Vance Joseph is now 1-9 on the road after the Broncos dropped Week 3 and Week 5 games in Baltimore and New Jersey. The Broncos may have discussed Kelly, who has never attempted a regular-season pass but fared well in the preseason. But Breer adds Joseph and John Elway are tied to Keenum thanks to the $25MM in fully guaranteed money the journeyman passer’s making on his current deal. Keenum’s on pace to throw more than 600 passes, and the Broncos have oddly turned to the weaker component of their offense more so than committing to their strong ground attack that ranks third (137 yards per game).

Here’s the latest out of Denver:

  • It’s likely Elway will have to look for yet another post-Peyton Manning solution in 2019, Ben Volin of the Boston Globe writes. The Broncos have cycled through an unlikely successor (Trevor Siemian), a spectacular first-round misstep (Paxton Lynch), a retread (Brock Osweiler) and now Keenum. Elway and Broncos player personnel director Matt Russell are in Eugene, Ore., on Saturday for a Washington-Oregon game that features possible top 2019 QB prospect Justin Herbert, Mike Klis of 9News reports. Several teams are in attendance for this Pac-12 matchup, per Klis, who adds the Broncos figure to be looking at cornerbacks and tackles as early-round possibilities as well.
  • An interesting indictment of Pro Football Focus appears to be coming out of Denver this week. The acclaimed advanced-metrics site has Broncos right guard Connor McGovern rated as the No. 4 overall guard in football (and No. 1 in run-blocking), but OC Bill Musgrave said (via Klis) Max Garcia will take some of McGovern’s snaps this week against the Rams. McGovern struggled at times against Leonard Williams, and Garcia — a starter from 2016-17 and a player not graded nearly as well by PFF — may start this week, per Joseph, against the Rams’ menacing defensive front. This would be a curious move for a team that’s running the ball as well as it is.
  • Volin also doesn’t view Broncos president Joe Ellisstatement this week as a ringing Joseph endorsement, pointing to the team’s once-vaunted defense struggling against the run vs. Jets backs and entering Week 6 with just 11 sacks (19th) despite having used a No. 5 overall pick on Bradley Chubb. Elway hired Joseph, a career defensive-based coach, after one season of DC experience. The Broncos’ pre-Week 10 bye slate features a home game against the Rams, a Thursday road assignment in Arizona, a road matchup in Kansas City and a return home to face the Texans. With Joseph looking like a two-and-done coach at this point, this will be a pivotal stretch for the embattled leader.

West Rumors: Taylor, Carrie, Broncos, Hawks

The trade that will send Jamar Taylor to his third NFL team will come with an adjusted contract. Taylor will make less for the Cardinals this year than he was supposed with the Browns, with Kent Somers of AZCentral.com reporting (on Twitter) the veteran cornerback will earn $3.5MM in base salary — down from $4.25MM. The additional $750K will be pushed onto the Cards’ 2019 balance sheet. The Cardinals and Browns have been discussing a Taylor deal since the draft, Mike Jurecki of ArizonaSports.com tweets, adding that the Bashaud Breeland avenue is likely closed after this trade. Taylor is under contract for two more seasons. Finding a capable Patrick Peterson counterpart has been a problem in Arizona for a while, and Taylor will have a decent chance to earn that No. 2 job. Now-well-traveled Bene Benwikere, former Jets corner Marcus Williams and one-time third-round pick Brandon Williams represent the top competition.

Here’s the latest from the West divisions, keeping with the subject of cornerbacks who have worn Browns colors recently.

  • Taylor and T.J. Carrie were Browns teammates for a little more than two months, and Cleveland has now traded both of its 2017 starting corners as John Dorsey enters his first full season as Browns GM. Carrie will factor in prominently in the Browns’ 2018 secondary, but Jon Gruden would have preferred the Raiders retain Carrie, per Scott Bair of NBC Sports Bay Area. It’s unclear how much the Raiders were willing to offer their 2017 slot corner, but Gruden and some members of his new staff did meet with Carrie just prior to free agency. And the Bay Area native wanted to stay. However, Bair mentions money guided him to northeast Ohio. It’s unlikely the Raiders’ offer was especially close to the Browns’ four-year, $31MM proposal.
  • It appears the Broncos are going to try Menelik Watson at guard. After the former Raiders tackle struggled mightily before his latest injury, allowing a career-worst 7.5 sacks despite playing in just seven Broncos games last season, the team’s putting him in competition with as-of-now starter Connor McGovern for its right guard job, Mike Klis of 9News notes. A sixth-year player, Watson is a career tackle. Denver, which has entered the past five seasons with five different right tackle starters, traded for Jared Veldheer to replace Watson on the edge. McGovern himself is a notable inclusion into the lineup, since Max Garcia has started at guard for two seasons. McGovern worked his way into Denver’s starting mix after being an injury replacement for Ronald Leary late last season.
  • After the Seahawks lost pro personnel director Dan Morgan to the Bills, they will replace him with Nolan Teasley. A former running back at Division II Central Washington, Teasley began his career as a scouting intern in 2013 but rose to the position of assistant pro personnel director in 2017.
  • By giving Patrick Mahomes a top-flight arsenal to work with as he begins his run as the Chiefs‘ starting quarterback, Andy Reid is taking a better approach to developing his most recent prized passing prospect compared to his work with Donovan McNabb, Geoff Mosher of The Score writes. McNabb was not given many notable pass-catchers early in his career, but Mahomes has plenty. With the $16MM-AAV Sammy Watkins deal representing a notable Chiefs about-face regarding their No. 2 wideout position, the franchise now has a quartet of weapons — Watkins, Travis Kelce, Kareem Hunt and Tyreek Hill — that rivals any it’s ever assembled. While the Chiefs’ defense may have some work to do after the Marcus Peters trade, Mahomes has far more to work with offensively than Alex Smith did when he arrived in Kansas City five years ago.

Draft Signings: Bengals, Broncos, Jags, Chiefs

We’ve compiled the latest draft pick signings below:

  • The Bengals have officially signed second-round pick Tyler Boyd, as Paul Dehner Jr. of The Enquirer tweets. The wideout is also a talented kick returner, having averaged 24.4 yards per return last season.
  • Broncos fifth-round pick Connor McGovern signed his rookie contract, as Nicki Jhabvala of The Denver Post tweets. Mike Klis of 9News in Denver tweets that the guard will receive a $263,900 signing bonus.
  • The Jaguars signed fourth-round defensive tackle Sheldon Day, as Wilson tweets.
  • The Chiefs have signed their fourth-round pick, cornerback Eric Murray, and fifth-round pick, wideout Ty Hill, tweets Terez A. Paylor of The Kansas City Star.