Joe Woods

Broncos Shake Up Coaching Staff

Black Monday did not result in Vance Joseph‘s ouster, but his first staff is splintering as the Broncos begin an effort to re-emerge from a 5-11 season.

The Broncos are gutting their coaching staff, making decisions to fire wide receivers coach Tyke Tolbert, running backs coach Eric Studesville and special teams coordinator Brock Olivo, Mike Klis of 9News and Nicki Jhabvala of the Denver Post report (all Twitter links).

DC Joe Woods and OC Bill Musgrave are going to be back, Jhabvala and NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport report (Twitter links). The Broncos, though, will be looking for a third ST coach in three years after Olivo’s units struggled with turnovers and the allowing of big plays this season.

Studesville was the Broncos’ longest-tenured assistant and was the team’s interim coach after Josh McDaniels‘ tenure ended late in the 2010 season. Tolbert served as wideouts coach since the ’11 campaign, joining when John Fox‘s tenure began. Studesville declined an interview for the Jets’ OC vacancy last year and was fired despite the Broncos’ rushing attack climbing from the No. 27 to No. 12 between 2016 and ’17. This season marked the first since 2011 the Broncos didn’t have a 1,000-yard receiver.

Rapoport notes (on Twitter) Gary Kubiak‘s expanded front office role likely has meant he’s been involved in the decisions, with John Elway‘s personnel department being one of the NFL’s smallest groups.

Latest On Broncos/Wade Phillips Split

The Broncos and Wade Phillips could not agree on terms to bring back the DC for a third season in Denver, re-routing the veteran assistant to his 10th NFL franchise. Conflicting reports have attempted to illuminate some reasons why the architect of the league’s top defense the past two years will be overseeing the Rams’ unit in 2017.

A report earlier this week indicated Phillips played a role in pitting the Broncos’ defense against their offense, dividing the locker room and alleging the DC was responsible for a similar situation on the 2013 Texans. Phillips himself shot back (Twitter link) and denied any such claim, something which All-Pro cornerback Chris Harris (via Twitter) backed up.

The somewhat surprising split after Phillips helped guide the Broncos to their third Super Bowl championship a year ago may have occurred for several reasons, but Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk describes it as an amicable breakup. Phillips’ daughter lives in Los Angeles, leading Phillips to the understandable desire to want to relocate there if given the opportunity. But 2016 negotiations for a second Phillips contract in Denver featured a chasm between the sides on terms.

Phillips, per Florio, wanted to be the highest-paid defensive coordinator in football after playing a key role in leading a defensively powered Super Bowl team. The Broncos, though, resisted, and NFL veteran of more than 30 years entered this season on an expiring contract. Denver’s pass defense finished with a top-10 all-time DVOA in 2016 en route to ending up as the top DVOA total defense for a second straight year, and the 69-year-old coach became a sought-after commodity on the open market. He drew interest from the Browns, Redskins and Rams before deciding to move west.

Denver’s new DC, Joe Woods, was also drawing interest as a possible coordinator candidate, Florio notes. The Broncos did not want to lose a potential rising talent to another team, so they promoted Woods to fill Phillips’ spot shortly after he left. The team could have blocked the 46-year-old Woods from interviewing elsewhere — something that wasn’t rumored prior to him being promoted — but chose to promote him instead of denying him an opportunity. Current Broncos HC Vance Joseph experienced this two years ago, when the Bengals denied their then-defensive backs coach permission to become the Denver DC in 2015, leading to Phillips’ return to Colorado.

Broncos To Promote Joe Woods To DC

The Broncos will promote defensive backs coach Joe Woods to defensive coordinator, according to Nicki Jhabvala of the Denver Post (Twitter link). Woods will replace former DC Wade Phillips, who joined the Rams in the same capacity after his contract with the Broncos expired.Joe Woods (Vertical)

[RELATED: 2017 OC/DC Search Tracker]

New Denver head coach Vance Joseph has now locked up his playcallers on both sides of the ball, as Woods will join former Chargers head coach Mike McCoy as a Broncos coordinator. Woods had been viewed as the likely choice at DC since the moment Joseph was hired, and was one of only two known candidates for the position. Reggie Herring, Denver’s linebackers coach, was also set to interview for the job, but it’s unclear if he ever actually met with Joseph.

Had Woods not been the presumptive choice for DC, the Broncos and Joseph likely would have attempted to retain Phillips and sign him to a contract extension, per Troy Renck of Denver7 (Twitter links). However, an NFC club requested permission to interview Woods for its DC position, and Denver wasn’t inclined to risk losing him, per Renck.

Woods, 46, has 25 years of coaching experience under his belt, and has been coaching in the NFL ranks since 2004. Since joining the Broncos in 2015, Woods has led Denver to the No. 1 DVOA ranking against the pass in two consecutive seasons, while many of his pupils — including Aqib Talib, Chris Harris, Bradley Roby, and T.J. Ward — have flourished.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Latest On Broncos Coaching Staff

The Broncos coaching staff looks a whole lot different than it did 48 hours ago. On Wednesday, the organization announced that they had hired former Dolphins defensive coordinator Vance Joseph as their new head coach. Last night saw two more changes. Former defensive coordinator Wade Phillips joined the Rams while the Broncos were finalizing a deal with new offensive coordinator Mike McCoy.

Defensive backs coach Joe Woods is considered the favorite to be promoted to the defensive coordinator position, although he still has some competition for the gig. Mike Klis of 9News in Denver reports (via Twitter) that the Broncos will also be interviewing Reggie Herring for the opening. Herring spent the past two seasons as the team’s linebackers coach, and he handled some defensive play-calling duties earlier this season. Herring has also served as the linebackers coach for the Texans, Cowboys, and Bears.

As we wrap our head around all of these coaching moves, let’s take a look at some additional changes in Denver…

  • While McCoy seems to be in the driver’s seat for the offensive coordinator gig, Cameron Wolfe of The Denver Post notes (via Twitter) that the organization still plans on interviewing Bill Musgrave today. The long-time coach spent the past two seasons as the Raiders offensive coordinator.
  • The Broncos have parted ways with tight ends coach Brian Pariani, according to Troy Renck of ABC Denver7 (via Twitter). Meanwhile, Nicki Jhabvala of The Denver Post reports that offensive line coach Clancy Barone also won’t be back. Finally, Klis reports (via Twitter) that Joseph notified special teams assistant Tony Coaxum and offensive line assistant Jim Cregg that they also wouldn’t be retained for next season.
  • Joseph acknowledged that Phillips is “one of [his] football dads,” but he also admitted that Woods was “ready to be a coordinator,” as ESPN.com’s Jeff Legwold passes along (via Twitter). Wolfe tweets that the Broncos loved Phillips, but the organization saw higher potential in Woods.
  • Jason La Canfora tweets that general manager John Elway was in favor of changes to the Broncos coaching staff even if former head coach Gary Kubiak stuck around. Klis adds (via Twitter) that Joseph wanted “sweeping changes” when it came to his new staff.

Redskins To Interview Wade Phillips?

7:37pm: Renck now reports the longtime DC is going to Washington to visit family instead of officially interviewing with the Redskins. While he adds Phillips is a sought-after candidate, an interview with the Redskins has not been scheduled.

6:46pm: The competition for Wade Phillips‘ 2017 services has heated up, and his previous employer has fallen behind — perhaps by choice. Phillips will interview for the Redskins’ defensive coordinator job on Friday, Troy Renck of Denver7 reports (on Twitter). The 69-year-old DC has an obvious connection there; his son Wes Phillips is Washington’s tight ends coach.

The Rams still have interest, Renck reports, especially now that the team hired Sean McVay as HC. McVay wants Phillips as his DC, we heard earlier today. The Browns also expressed interest in Phillips before hiring Gregg Williams.

This comes as the Broncos hired defensive-based Vance Joseph as their next head coach. Joseph may be shifting in a different direction, despite calling Phillips a mentor from their time together with the Texans. The new Denver coach said today (via Nick Groke of the Denver Post) Phillips “is a free agent; he’s free to go where he wants to go” but did not mention any other names for the Broncos’ DC job. Defensive backs coach Joe Woods is considered a key candidate to become the Broncos’ next DC, Nicki Jhabvala of the Denver Post reports. Phillips’ two-year Broncos contract expired after the season.

The Redskins have already interviewed Gus Bradley, Mike Pettine and Steve Wilks for their DC job, with Wilks instead receiving a promotion to become the Panthers’ head coach following Sean McDermott’s Bills defection. Washington attempted to interview Bengals DC Paul Guenther but was denied.

Phillips’ Broncos defenses finished as the No. 1 DVOA units in each of the past two years, with his 2015 Super Bowl group being one of the best defenses in memory.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Broncos Hire Vance Joseph

The Broncos’ coaching search is over. The Broncos have agreed to a four-year deal with Vance Joseph, sources tell Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (on Twitter). General manager John Elway has since confirmed the news via Twitter.Vance Joseph (vertical)

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For the last week or so, Joseph has been identified as the frontrunner for the Denver vacancy. From the start, GM John Elway indicated that the team had about “three or four” candidates in mind and Joseph was reportedly in the driver’s seat before he ever interviewed.

Joseph interviewed for Denver’s vacant head coaching position prior to the 2015 season when he was the Bengals’ defensive backs coach. When the Broncos hired Gary Kubiak, the club pushed to hire Joseph as their defensive coordinator, but Cincinnati blocked the move. After that, Joseph moved on to Miami and helped improve the team’s defense from a No. 25 DVOA rank in 2015 to No. 17 this year.

Falcons offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan and Chiefs special teams coach Dave Toub also interviewed for the job. Anthony Lynn was “expected” to interview with Denver, but he never got the chance.

Next up for Denver is rounding out the staff. The Broncos have two offensive coordinator interviews set up for Thursday: Mike McCoy and Bill Musgrave, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets. Denver defensive backs coach Joe Woods will likely be elevated to DC, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets.

Meanwhile, in Miami, linebackers coach Matt Burke is likely going to be promoted to DC.

Mike Klis of 9NEWS (on Twitter) first reported the Broncos’ offer to Joseph. Additional details provided by Josina Anderson of ESPN.com (on Twitter) and Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter).

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Coaching/FO News & Rumors: 1/5/17

The Saints will have a significantly different coaching staff next year, as the team parted with assistants Joe Vitt (assistant head coach/linebackers), Bill Johnson (defensive line), Greg McMahon (special teams coordinator), Stan Kwan (assistant special teams) and James Willis (assistant linebackers) on Thursday, according to Sporting News’ Alex Marvez (Twitter link). These changes are a sign that head coach Sean Payton isn’t going anywhere, observes Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link). Vitt is the longest-tenured staff member to go, having served with the club since 2006. He filled in as New Orleans’ interim head coach when the NFL suspended Payton for the entire 2012 season because of the Bountygate scandal.

Let’s check in on more of the latest coaching- and front office-related happenings:

  • 49ers: With vacancies at general manager and head coach, the Niners are set to to interview a couple members of the Carolina organization. Panthers assistant general manager Brandon Beane and defensive coordinator Sean McDermott will meet with the 49ers next week, per FOX Sports’ Peter Schrager (Twitter links). Seahawks offensive line coach Tom Cable will also discuss the 49ers’ head coaching opening with the team next week, according to Tom Pelissero of USA Today (Twitter link).
  • Bills: Buffalo still has not submitted an official request to interview Eagles offensive coordinator Frank Reich, per Tim McManus of ESPN.com. There has been follow-through after the initial contact between the two sides, he adds (Twitter link).
  • Broncos: Defensive coordinator Wade Phillips, whose contract is expiring, is unlikely to return to Denver, reports Marvez. If Dolphins D-coordinator Vance Joseph becomes the Broncos’ head coach, Denver’s defensive backs coach, Joe Woods, would likely succeed Phillips (Twitter links).
  • Chargers: Buccaneers defensive coordinator Mike Smith interviewed with the Bolts on Thursday, becoming the first candidate to do so, reports Michael Gehlken of the San Diego Union-Tribune. The aforementioned Sean McDermott will follow him Friday, relays Joseph Person of the Charlotte Observer. The club has also requested permission to interview Bills interim head coach Anthony Lynn, according to Rapoport (Twitter links here).
  • Rams: Los Angeles’ previously reported interview with Anthony Lynn will go down on Sunday, Mike Rodak of ESPN.com tweets.
  • Redskins: In addition to bouncing defensive coordinator Joe Barry, the Redskins also canned defensive line coach Robb Akey and defensive backs coach Perry Fewell on Thursday, via James Palmer of NFL.com (Twitter link). Panthers secondary coach Steve Wilks is a name to watch as the Redskins look for Barry’s successor, Rapoport tweets. Wilks has a history with Josh Norman dating back to their time together in Carolina.
  • Bookmark PFR’s Head Coaching Search Tracker for an up-to-date primer on who’s interviewing where.

Zach Links contributed to this post.

West Notes: Rams, Schofield, Broncos

A glance at the AFC and NFC West..

  • Keeping the Rams in St. Louis would require a “spectacular effort,” Andrew Leonard, chairman of the St. Louis Convention & Visitors Commission said, according to David Hunn of The Post-Dispatch. “There’s no question about it, they’d rather be in Los Angeles, in my mind,” Leonard said. The Rams notified the commission earlier this week that they will shift to a year-to-year lease agreement for their use of the Edward Jones Dome.
  • Seattle linebacker O’Brien Schofield insists that he’s no longer dwelling on the way things ended with the Cardinals, as Kent Somers and Zach Buchanan of The Arizona Republic write. “That used to drive me crazy thinking about it,” Schofield said, “because I felt I had done enough for the organization that I would have got more decency of how they let me go. But it’s whatever. I’m a Super Bowl champ. They had to see me twice here. They didn’t want to speak to me the first year and I was fine with that.”
  • The Broncos have hired Joe Woods as their new defensive backs coach, according to Mike Klis of The Denver Post (on Twitter). Woods previously served as the defensive backs coach of the Raiders, Vikings, and Buccaneers.
  • The Raiders are expected to hire Stetson offensive line coach Tim Holt as their assistant offensive line coach, a source told Adam Caplan of ESPN.com (on Twitter). Holt worked with Oakland offensive line coach Mike Tice previously.