Vance Joseph

Broncos To Retain HC Vance Joseph

The Broncos will not make a change following a disappointing 5-11 campaign, as the team will bring back head coach Vance Joseph for 2018, CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora reports (Twitter link). Vance Joseph (vertical)

Team executive vice president of football operations and general manager John Elway reportedly went back and forth on the decision and decided to keep the first-year coach after taking the night to think it over.

Shortly after the news broke, Elway tweeted: “Vance and I had a great talk this morning about our plan to attack this offseason and get better as a team. We believe in Vance as our head coach. Together, we’ll put in the work to improve in all areas and win in 2018.”

It was long expected that Joseph would be retained but rumors picked up on Sunday that he would likely be out instead. Elway apparently had a change of heart once again and opted keep the defensive-minded coach. Had he been let go, he would have been the first non-interim coach in team history to be fired after just one season.

The first order of business for Joseph in his second season will be to find consistency at the quarterback position. The team will enter 2018 with Paxton Lynch and Trevor Siemian on the roster, but it is likely the team will look to free agents like Kirk Cousins or the NFL Draft to fill the role. With the No. 5 pick in the upcoming draft, the team is in borderline contention for UCLA’s Josh Rosen and USC’s Sam Darnold, the two highest-rated signal-callers at the moment.

With a strong defense and plenty of weapons on offense, the Broncos are a top candidate to make a rapid turnaround in 2018.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Coaching Notes: Gruden, Lewis, Joseph

The Raiders‘ firing of Jack Del Rio less than a year after signing him to an extension would have come as a shock at this season’s outset, when the team was picked by most to win the AFC West. But now that Jon Gruden‘s name is in the mix, the franchise is operating like it has a real shot to lure him back to Oakland.

In firing Del Rio, the Raiders are confident they can bring Gruden back to Oakland, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. The Raiders doing this looks indeed to be for a Gruden landing, with Vincent Bonsignore of the Los Angeles Daily News hearing (Twitter link) the Gruden buzz is legitimate. This comes shortly after Gruden’s name was connected with the Buccaneers. But the Bucs kept Dirk Koetter after a less successful tenure compared to Del Rio’s Oakland run. The Gruden noise appears louder regarding the Raiders. He was the most recent coach to receive a four-year opportunity coaching the Silver and Black, doing so from 1998-2001 prior to being traded to the Bucs in early 2002.

Here’s the latest from the coaching carousel.

  • Marvin LewisBengals played a spoiler in Week 17, knocking the Ravens out of the playoffs. The coach’s future in Cincinnati remains murky, however, as his contract expires. Lewis made an interesting comment postgame regarding his status. When asked if he would accept Mike Brown‘s offer to remain the Bengals’ HC in 2018, Lewis replied (via Katherine Terrell of ESPN.com), “It’s a little more complicated than that.” A report emerged last week about Lewis stepping down from his 15-year post. He has yet to confirm that.
  • Vance Joseph‘s Broncos tenure is also up in the air. However, the rookie head coach said he “absolutely” expects to be the team’s coach in 2018 and said (via Nicki Jhabvala of the Denver Post, on Twitter) he has not been informed of a decision yet. Joseph said he will meet with John Elway tonight or Monday. The Broncos have never fired a coach after one season. However, this is only the second time in 27 seasons they’ve won five or fewer games. Mike Klis of 9News reports (on Twitter) Elway will not make the decision tonight, planning to sleep on it. Klis adds that it shouldn’t be a surprise if Joseph is given a second season.
  • Bruce Arians met with Cardinals owner Michael Bidwill on Sunday morning, Laura Okmin of Fox Sports reports, adding a decision on whether or not he will step down could come by New Year’s Day (Twitter link). Arians has said himself his decision could come as soon as Monday, or as late as February, although Adam Schefter of ESPN.com notes he’s likely to leave.

West Notes: Reid, Broncos, Carroll, Rams

Eric Reid looks set to become a UFA for the first time. The fifth-year safety’s 49ers contract expires after Week 17, and should the former first-round pick hit the market, he’ll be doing so at age 26 and with five seasons of full-time starter work. However, Reid is aware his protest participation over the past two years could play a role in his market.

I wouldn’t use the word ‘concerned.’ I’d say I understand that that’s a possibility,” Reid said, via Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee, when asked about his potential UFA market diminishing because of his participation in the Colin Kaepernick-led protest movement. “And I’m completely fine with that. The things that I’ve done, I stand by. And I’ve done that for my own personal beliefs. Like I said I’m fine with whatever outcome comes because of that.”

Pro Football Focus rates Reid as a middle-of-the-pack safety this season. He’s suffered injuries in back-to-back years as well. But the ex-LSU cog started for an NFC championship game entrant as a rookie, earning Pro Bowl recognition, and has gone on to play both safety spots in San Francisco.

Here’s the latest from the Western divisions as the majority of those coalitions’ teams prepare for their seasons’ final games.

  • Vance Joseph‘s bid at a second Broncos season is suddenly at risk. After ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter reported the rookie HC was facing longer odds at returning, Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk writes that the growing sense is Joseph will be canned after today’s finale. Several Broncos players have come out in support of Joseph, and a report earlier this month said Joseph was likely to earn a second season. But eight of Denver’s 10 losses have been by double digits, putting Joseph in line to possibly become the franchise’s first one-and-done coach.
  • Pete Carroll‘s obviously earned protection against being fired, but the eighth-year Seahawks coach doesn’t sound like he’s close to leaving the sideline especially soon. Seemingly in response to a rumor about a possible retirement floated by Fox Sports’ Jay Glazer, the 66-year-old HC said (on Twitter) “I ain’t old enough to think about retiring.”
  • Trumaine Johnson is finishing out his second franchise-tagged season, but he’s unsure the Rams will bring him back. The cornerback said at the beginning of the season it didn’t sound like he was in the team’s long-term plans, but he’s played a big role for a contending team this season. And Johnson, who turns 28 on Monday, pointed out this week he would like to stay in Los Angeles. “I’d love to be around,” Johnson said, via Rich Hammond of the Los Angeles Daily News. “But again, I understand the business side of it, so we’ll see. We’ll see in these next couple months.”
  • Sean McVay (via Hammond) isn’t sure Mark Barron will return for the Rams’ playoff opener next weekend. The linebacker’s battling an Achilles’ tendon injury and will be one of many players the Rams will rest today.
  • Jamaal Charles is inactive for the Broncos‘ season finale, and the 10th-year running back will fall just short of a $100K incentive, the Denver Post’s Nicki Jhabvala notes (on Twitter). Charles was to earn that bonus if he reached 500 yards from scrimmage, which was one of many thresholds in his incentive-laden contract. The 31-year-old back looked like a lock to get there at midseason, but he fell out of Denver’s rotation and will end his season with 425 yards. This could be the end for the two-time All-Pro, although he said earlier this season he wanted to play two more seasons.

Coaching Rumors: Joseph, Eagles, Colts

This offseason’s coaching carousel is expected to be one of the more exciting ones in recent history given all of the jobs that will become available, though that excitement is not limited to the head coaching gigs. It’s been a busy morning already, but let’s take a look at a few more head coach and coordinator rumors:

  • Broncos head coach Vance Joseph is facing increasingly longer odds of being retained for a second season, ESPN’s Adam Schefter tweets.
  • Former Broncos head coach Gary Kubiak, who is currently serving as a senior personnel executive for the team, has interest in returning to the sidelines as an offensive coordinator. However, Nicki Jhabvala of the Denver Post reports that the Broncos are looking to keep Kubiak around and expand his role to include more front office responsibility and perhaps some coaching responsibilities as well.
  • The Eagles may lose their defensive coordinator this offseason, and ESPN’s Adam Caplan reports that Philadelphia could also lose several top position coaches (Twitter links). Caplan says Eagles QB coach John DeFilippo and WR coach Mike Groh could be targeted by other clubs, though Philadelphia could still block either man from accepting coordinator jobs elsewhere.
  • Colts GM Chris Ballard has strong ties to several members of the Chiefs‘ coaching staff — special teams coach Dave Toub and offensive coordinator Matt Nagy — and Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports reports that both men will get consideration for Indianapolis’ head coaching job. La Canfora points out, however, that Colts owner Jim Irsay may prefer to make a “splashier” hire if possible.
  • The Bengals have reached out to external candidates for their (expected) head coaching opening, per Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (via Twitter). This will be an open search for Cincinnati, which generally prefers to promote from within.
  • Saints head coach Sean Payton said that Darryl Tapp, who played in the league for 11 years (including four games with the Bucs this season), is now serving as a coaching intern for New Orleans. It would appear, then, that Tapp’s playing days are over and he is shifting his sights to the next stage of his career.

Breer’s Latest: Black Monday Preview

With the final week of the NFL’s regular season approaching, that only means two things; 12 teams will soon be focusing on reaching the Super Bowl, while the rest will start to look ahead to next season. One major part of looking forward is addressing who on the coaching staff will be returning in 2018. Many of these coaching questions are answered on the day following Week’s 17 conclusion, conveniently called “Black Monday”.

Veteran reporter Albert of Breer of Sports Illustrated, gave a preview of the coaches he expects to stay and the ones that will likely be shown the door in his most recent column. Breer ranked the potential firings as “Likely/Done”, “We’ll See”, and “It’s Complicated”. In total, there were 15 head coaches mentioned who could see their situations change starting next week.

Here’s a quick look at Breer’s takes on some of the league’s hottest coaching questions:

  • There were five head coaches included in the “likely/done” category including: BearsJohn Fox, BengalsMarvin Lewis, LionsJim Caldwell, ColtsChuck Pagano and and the Giants‘ interim coach Steve Spagnuolo. The four full-time head coaches on this list have all had their fair share of success in the league. In fact, three of them led their current teams to multiple playoff appearances during their tenure. However, Caldwell and Lewis have been unable to win a postseason game with Pagano and Fox having failed at continuing the past success they have shown during their careers in football. Breer notes that while the “expectation is that Fox will be gone”, the decision on the fate of general manager Ryan Pace is true question facing the franchise this offseason. There’s been rapid speculation about Lewis, Caldwell and Pagano throughout the year, so their inclusion on this list is no surprise. Finally, the Giants are currently interviewing general manager candidates who will almost certainly be looking to lead their own head coaching search once hired.
  • Breer puts six current head coaches in the ‘we’ll see” part of the list. This portion mentions the CardinalsBruce Arians, BroncosVance Joseph, RaidersJack Del Rio, BuccaneersDirk Koetter, TitansMike Mularkey and the RedskinsJay Gruden. There’s a variety of situations going on here with Breer noting that Arizona could see Arians retire, which could lead them to other current NFL head coaches: Todd Bowles and Bill O’Brien. Del Rio and Gruden have had their fair share of success because of quality quarterback play, but both have managed to decrease confidence because of an inconsistent 2017 season. However, Breer points out that both are signed long-term so their owners would have to eat the remaining years of their current deals. Mularkey and Koetter were rewarded for the relationships they formed with their QB’s, but there’s been disappointment with how this season has unfolded for their teams. Breer notes that should Mularkey lose this Sunday, he could be on the chopping block come Monday morning with the team looking to hire an offensive-minded coach like Josh McDaniels. Finally, Joseph has forced himself to the hot seat even in his first year of coaching the Broncos, though Breer says himself that this situation is “unpredictable” given that team president John Elway is just “not pleased with how the season’s gone”.
  • Browns head coach Hue Jackson, and the two previously mentioned O’Brien and Bowles of the Texans and Jets, find themselves on the “it’s complicated” section of Breer’s roundup largely because of just the many factors are at play in regards to their situations. Jackson got a vote of confidence from owner Jimmy Haslam himself, but new general manager John Dorsey could have his sights on implementing his own guy after a winless season. O’Brien has made the playoffs before, but has struggled committing to a QB even after the team selected Deshaun Watson in the first round. Bowles has done a lot with a little in New York this season, but ownership could go in a different direction with a new starting signal caller likely walking into the building next year. Also, there is the potential that all three coaches could move onto new head coaching gigs with the number of openings that could be available this offseason. The final and definitely most surprising inclusion on this list was Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll, who Breer mentions could retire at age 66 with a roster about to see major turnover in the next few years. Although, I would venture that nothing he’s said this season would indicate that being the case.

Jamaal Charles Wants Release From Broncos

After being held out of the Broncos’ Week 16 matchup with Washington, running back Jamaal Charles told Nicki Jhabvala of The Denver Post the team “might as well” release him. Jamaal Charles (Vertical)

“I ain’t playing. Might as well,” he said. “No reason for me to just sit around and look at people play. It is what it is. I’m still going to be supportive of everyone on the team no matter what. I mean, they got my rights right now.”

The Broncos declared the veteran back inactive to get a look at rookie De’Angelo Henderson and could do the same when they take on Kansas City, Charles’ former team, in the season finale.

After an exceptional, albeit injury-riddled, career with the Chiefs that included four Pro Bowl selections and two First Team All-Pro nods, Charles signed a one-year deal with the Broncos in the offseason. Coming off multiple knee surgeries, he joined a crowded backfield that included C.J. Anderson and second-year back Devontae Booker and never established himself as the dominant force of years past. Through Week 16, Charles has tallied 69 carries for 296 yards and a touchdown.

Turning 31 years old on Wednesday, Charles is in the twilight of his career and hoping for a shot to catch on with a playoff-bound team. Broncos head coach Vance Joseph said releasing Charles has “not been a thought for us.”

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Broncos Expected To Retain Vance Joseph

The expectation is that Broncos coach Vance Joseph will return for 2018, sources informed of the team’s thinking tell Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link). However, the team’s decision makers will be keeping a close eye on how the team finishes out the 2017 season. Vance Joseph (vertical)

The Broncos are 4-9 with zero chance of making the playoffs, but they’ll have chances to add to the win column against the Colts and Redskins and they could get the opportunity to spoil the Chiefs’ playoff hopes in Week 17. John Elway & Co. understand the team’s limitations on offense, Rapoport says, but they want to see the Broncos play competitive football in the final three games of the year.

Denver went 3-1 in the first month of the season, but things got ugly after the Week 5 bye. The Broncos dropped eight straight before snapping their losing streak against the Jets this past Sunday. Speculation about Joseph’s job security has dogged the team all year, but it sounds like the Broncos are poised to give him a second season to turn things around.

Under Joseph’s watch, the Broncos rank seventh in defensive DVOA, though that’s a step back from their first-place finish in the previous two seasons. Meanwhile, they’re dead last in offensive DVOA. The Broncos likely feel that Joseph can help restore the defense to its former glory while some roster changes (namely, at quarterback) can ignite the offense.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Broncos Won’t Make In-Season Coaching Change

Although the Broncos are currently last in the AFC West with a 3-9 record, the club doesn’t plan to make any in-season changes to its front office or coaching staff, sources tell Mike Klis of 9News. However, alterations to Denver’s leadership are expected to take place in the coming months, per Klis.John Elway (Vertical)

Changes almost certainly won’t affect the status of executive vice president of football operations/general manager John Elway, who inked a new five-year contract in July. That contract reportedly made Elway the NFL’s highest-paid GM, and his position atop the Broncos’ decision-making hierarchy is unquestionable. However, Elway could certainly add new blood to Denver’s personnel ranks, especially given that the team’s past few drafts have been uninspiring.

The Broncos’ coaching staff has already been modified this season, as the club parted ways with first-year offensive coordinator Mike McCoy last month, replacing him with incumbent quarterbacks coach Bill Musgrave. Head coach Vance Joseph — a longtime target of Elway’s — hasn’t delivered results during his rookie campaign, and it’s possible Denver will make a change after only a single season. Before hiring Joseph, the Broncos interviewed only two other candidates: Kyle Shanahan and Chiefs special teams coach Dave Toub.

Denver’s offensive staff is the most obvious area that could see new voices emerge, perhaps with a new quarterback in tow. But the club’s defense could also see changes: the Broncos rank 11th in defensive DVOA, but that’s a sharp decline from 2015-16, when the unit ranked first in both seasons. First-year defensive coordinator Joe Woods could conceivably be a candidate for dismissal, or Joseph (a former DC) could take a more active role in game-calling.

Speaking of (former) Broncos coaches, the Dolphins’ decision to onside kick while leading 33-9 against Denver on Sunday was motivated by Elway’s apparent “bad-mouthing” of ex-Broncos offensive coordinator Adam Gase during the 2015 hiring cycle, sources tell Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald. While the item is more interesting than relevant, the note speaks not only to the depths of Denvers’s struggles this season, but a possible reputation problem Elway might need to fight this offseason.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC West Notes: A. Smith, Broncos, M. Williams

After jumping out to a 5-0 start this year, the Chiefs have lost four of their last five games, making themselves vulnerable to the surging Chargers and even the Raiders in the AFC West. The team’s offensive struggles have contributed to that swoon, and quarterback Alex Smith has fallen off a bit after a torrid first half. He is coming off a miserable performance in Kansas City’s loss to the lowly Giants last week, but Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports writes that the Chiefs would only turn to rookie first-rounder Patrick Mahomes if Smith were to get hurt. Smith will remain under center the rest of the year, though Kansas City still plans to shop him in the offseason as it prepares to usher in the Mahomes era.

Now for more notes from the AFC West:

  • New Chiefs CB Darrelle Revis will likely make his Kansas City debut next week, as Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets.
  • Paxton Lynch is back under center for the Broncos, and Rapoport (video link) says they want him to start the rest of the year so they can fairly evaluate what they have in last year’s first-rounder. The team will run a much simpler offensive scheme for Lynch than what it employed under former OC Mike McCoy, and Lynch has been encouraged to simply do what he does best, which is run around and improvise.
  • We learned earlier today that the Raiders are likely to fire OC Todd Downing at season’s end, and that McCoy is an obvious candidate to replace him. Within that story, we cited another La Canfora article in which the CBS scribe reported that the McCoy firing might have been just the tip of the iceberg for the Broncos. He suggests that there is speculation that head coach Vance Joseph could be out after just one year on the job, and at the very least, that Denver could shake up other parts of its coaching staff.
  • Broncos GM John Elway has taken a lot of heat for his club’s 3-7 record in 2017, but Mike Klis of 9News.com says that criticism is largely unwarranted. In an interesting piece that pits Elway’s draft results against those of his long-tenured colleagues, Elway comes out near the top of the heap of NFL general managers, which makes Klis believe he will be able to turn the ship around in 2018.
  • We learned Friday that Chargers rookie wideout Mike Williams avoided an ACL tear during his team’s Thanksgiving Day win over the Cowboys, and Rapoport tweets that Williams has been diagnosed with a bone bruise. While Williams is expected to miss next week’s contest against the Browns, he will be week-to-week thereafter, which is a big deal for a team that has forced its way back into the playoff hunt.

AFC Notes: Bills, Phins, Cutler, Broncos, Jets

Though there weren’t many positives to glean from a 54-24 drubbing by the Chargers, the Bills did receive one bit of good news on Monday. Newly acquired wideout Kelvin Benjamin did not tear his ACL in the loss, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports (Twitter link).

Though the injury could force the physical receiver to miss a few games, he should be able to help the Bills, currently tied with Baltimore for the last playoff spot, contend for a wildcard berth down the stretch.

After letting Robert Woods walk and trading away Sammy Watkins in the offseason, Buffalo pulled off a deadline deal with Carolina for Benjamin, who was expected to serve as Tyrod Taylor‘s top target. That has yet to come to fruition with Benjamin catching four passes in two games and Taylor being benched for the first half vs. Los Angeles.

Here’s more from around the AFC:

  • Dolphins QB Jay Cutler is officially in the NFL’s concussion protocol, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link). The Dolphins are 4-6 and mired in a four-game losing streak, so their showdown with New England could be a make-or-break game for their slim playoff hopes. Matt Moore will assume the starting role should Cutler not be fit for the game.
  • After being placed on injured reserve earlier this month, Raiders first-round pick Gareon Conley underwent surgery to repair his injured shin on Monday, NBC Sports’ Scott Blair reports. The cornerback suffered the injury in training camp and aggravated it in Week 3 vs. Washington.
  • The Jets are still holding out hope for the postseason. With that in mind, the team will roll with Josh McCown as the team’s starting quarterback unless injured, reports Newsday’s Calvin Watkins. McCown is on the same page as Bowles and appreciates the vote of confidence.
  • Following the firing of Mike McCoy as offensive coordinator, the Broncos promoted Bill Musgrave to the post and named Klint Kubiak quarterbacks coach, according to Schefter. The offensive coordinator in Oakland the last two seasons, Musgrave helped the Raiders produce one of the league’s most potent offenses in 2016. Kubiak, the son of former Broncos head coach and team senior personnel advisor Gary Kubiak, served as wide receivers coach at Kansas in 2015 before joining the Broncos as an assistant in 2016.
  • Remaining with the shakeup in Denver, Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio writes that John Elway should also receive some blame for the team’s downward spiral in 2017. Florio writes: “Despite efforts to blame the players and, as of Monday morning, to blame offensive coordinator Mike McCoy, and possibly to blame coach Vance Joseph, responsibility for the six-game losing goes to every layer and level of the organization, and the buck ultimately stops on Elway’s desk.”