Vance Joseph

Mike Shanahan Not Option For Broncos HC?

The NFL news cycle had not seen Mike Shanahan-Broncos overlap in many years, but Monday brought that, with a report indicating the two-time Super Bowl-winning head coach was a consideration for the Broncos late last year.

With the Broncos likely set to have a coaching vacancy soon, Shanahan would conceivably be in play for a Broncos reunion this time around. But that does not appear to be the case. The 66-year-old coach will not be among the candidates considered if/when the Broncos fire Vance Joseph, Mike Klis of 9News reports.

John Elway‘s hesitance in giving Joseph his second season was partially Shanahan-related, but Broncos president Joe Ellis was less on-board than the GM, ultimately nixing the idea. However, the talks for Shanahan to reclaim his post as Broncos HC did not go too far, with The Athletic’s Nicki Jhabvala reporting (subscription required) Ellis did not directly refute the idea of Shanahan 2.0. The Elway-Ellis talks regarding Shanahan were not especially formal, Jhabvala notes, adding no offer or deal framework was discussed.

This news called into question who was making the final football decisions in Denver, but Jhabvala notes the GM, and not Ellis, is still the point man on football operations. Ellis did give Elway the go-ahead to fire Joseph after last season if he so chose, but that a thorough coaching search be conducted rather than rehiring Shanahan. That said, Ellis did not want Shanahan to be part of the search. And it appears that stance remains.

The Broncos fired Shanahan after 14 seasons in 2008. He has not coached since his Redskins tenure ended after the 2013 campaign. Part of this Shanahan-return talk involved Kirk Cousins, with Woody Paige of the Colorado Springs Gazette reporting Shanahan and his former pupil met during the offseason, Cousins indicating he would follow Shanahan to Denver at a reduced rate. However, Jhabvala refutes this, writing Cousins did not meet with Shanahan nor discuss a discount Broncos setup.

Denver then went with Case Keenum for Joseph’s second year, and while the results have been better than they were in 2017, injuries and some maligned in-game coaching decisions have weakened this year’s team. Joseph, who met with Elway on Monday about the Shanahan reports, is 11-19 in two years. Joseph will not be fired before the season ends, Klis adds.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Broncos Bench Two Players Ahead Of Pivotal Game

The Broncos are playing a game they must win to keep their playoff hopes alive in a couple of hours, and are making a major change ahead of the game. 

Outside linebacker Shane Ray and safety Su’a Cravens will be benched and be healthy scratches for the game against the Browns, a source told Mike Klis of Denver 9 News. Klis writes that the moves are “strictly a coach’s decision”, meaning embattled head coach Vance Joseph made the call. Ray was a first round pick of the Broncos back in 2015, and has mostly been a disappointment after a promising first two years. He’s battled various injuries and has just one sack this year, and the team declined his fifth-year team option earlier this year. He’ll be a free agent after the season, so it’s quite possible he’s played his last down in a Broncos uniform.

Cravens is in his first year with the Broncos after spending his first two years in the league with Washington. Cravens was a second round pick of the Redskins in 2016, but quickly had a falling out with the organization. The Broncos traded a couple of draft picks to acquire Cravens this past March, and he’s been a major disappointment. He missed most of the year with a knee injury, and Klis notes that he’s “struggled in coverage” since returning.

Both of the players had been seeing significant snaps on defense, so it’s a major shakeup. It feels like a last gasp for Joseph, as he seems almost certain to lose his job if the team misses the playoffs. There have been whispers in the past about Joseph losing the locker room, so it will be very interesting to see how these moves go over.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Broncos Notes: Joseph, Thomas, Elway

His new team dealing perhaps the final blow to his previous employer’s 2018 playoff hopes via 19-17 win in Week 9, Texans wide receiver Demaryius Thomas expressed issues he had with the Broncos’ coaching staff. Thomas said during an interview with former Broncos Ray Crockett and Rod Smith on Orange and Blue 760 (via The Athletic’s Nicki Jhabvala, on Twitter) Vance Joseph informed him he would be staying in Denver after the trade deadline. Though, to be fair to the second-year head coach, he may not have known the status of John Elway‘s progress in acquiring a mid-round pick for the veteran wideout. Thomas said his agent told him Elway wanted a fifth-round pick in a trade, helping perhaps to explain the GM’s decision to accept a Texans fourth-round pick.

Additionally, Thomas told Crockett and Smith the coaching staff made him feel as though he was holding back rookies Courtland Sutton and DaeSean Hamilton and that first-year receivers coach Zach Azzani asked only Thomas to come out of a Jets loss to give Hamilton more snaps (Twitter links via Jhabvala). Joseph said (via Mike Klis of 9News) he didn’t recall a trade-related conversation with Thomas unfolding the way the since-jettisoned wideout said it did.

Here’s more from Denver:

  • As for Joseph’s job security, Elway offered a lukewarm endorsement. “At this point in time, we’re going to stay the course,” Elway said during an Orange and Blue 760 interview (via Arnie Stapleton of the Associated Press). “I think there’s enough good things that are going on as far as us and the way that we’re playing. I’m much more encouraged this year than I was last year.” The Broncos have lost four one-score games — all to teams with at least six wins — but are 3-6 and may be on the verge of their first back-to-back losing seasons since the mid-1970s. It’s hard to imagine Joseph (8-17 as a head coach) receiving a third year.
  • A possible route Elway might go in 2019, look no further than the success the Chiefs are having. Buzz is developing in NFL circles (via SI.com’s Albert Breer) that Elway has taken a “special interest” in the college-type concepts that have helped not just the Chiefs but other teams around the league. Should Elway hire another coach in January, it will be his fourth since taking a front office job with his former team. He interviewed Joseph, Kyle Shanahan and Chiefs ST coordinator Dave Toub for the job Joseph received.
  • Wide receiver Jordan Taylor won’t play for the Broncos this season, Jhabvala tweets. He will stay on the PUP list the rest of the way. Taylor’s 21-day practice window expired on Monday.
  • Matt Paradis underwent surgery to repair a broken right fibula, Klis notes. The veteran center will be a free agent in March, but Klis adds the Broncos are interested in bringing him back. The sides discussed an extension before the season but did not come to terms. Prior to the injury Sunday, Paradis had started every game for the Broncos since the start of their 2015 Super Bowl season.

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 Back Head Coach Vance Joseph

The Broncos have given Vance Joseph the dreaded vote of confidence. On Thursday, Broncos president and CEO Joe Ellis backed the second-year head coach when asked about his job security. 

They know the deal,” Ellis said (Twitter link via Nicki Jhabvala of The Athletic). “They experienced it last year. They know what needs to be done to fix it and move forward and try to improve and get better, and play some good football for the remaining eleven games. We’re all pulling for and supporting him and we’ll see where it goes.”

The Broncos slipped to 2-3 on the season when they lost 34-16 to the lowly Jets. Things won’t get any easier here, as the Broncos will face the 5-0 Rams on Sunday.

The stats show that the Broncos have improved on offense, but the defense has been woeful, ranking 26th in the league. The Broncos could easily place the blame on Joseph for that, especially since he is a former defensive backs coach and defensive coordinator.

If Joseph were to lose his job in October it would be an extremely quick hook for the 46-year-old. Joseph has spent 21 games as the Broncos’ head coach, but the team has gone 7-14 in that span.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Extra Points: Broncos, Joseph, Jets, Rawls, Bears, Trubisky

ESPN’s group of AFC West reporters recently took a look at who was on the hottest seat in the division, among coaches, players, and executives. Although Raiders GM Reggie McKenzie‘s name came up a couple of times, the consensus seemed to be that Broncos coach Vance Joseph was the one most likely to be fired should he falter to early on this season.

Recently, our Zach Links asked readers which coach would be the first to be fired in 2018, and Joseph was a popular selection in the poll. Joseph was very nearly fired by John Elway after just one year following a disappointing 5-11 season in 2017, but his job was ultimately spared at the last minute. If new free agent acquisition Case Keenum doesn’t get things turned around in a hurry, there could be an early coaching change in Denver.

Here’s more from around the NFL:

  • In the Jets‘ suddenly crowded running backs room, Thomas Rawls is the “longest shot to make the roster”, according to Darryl Slater of NJ.com. Isaiah Crowell is a lock to make the team, and Slater thinks Bilal Powell, Elijah McGuire, and Trenton Cannon are all in better position than Rawls.
  • Bears guard Kyle Long says the team has “taken the training wheels off” for quarterback Mitchell Trubisky, and that he’s finally “going to be able to do some things creatively and get to showcase his skills”, according to Madeline Kenney of the Chicago Sun Times (Twitter link). Former Bears coach John Fox was often criticized for being overly conservative with Trubisky, and it sounds like Trubisky will finally get to let loose in 2018.
  • In case you missed it, yesterday we took a look at the latest from the AFC East, with notes on the Patriots, Dolphins, and Jets.

Poll: Who Will Be The First Coach To Get Fired This Season?

It’s a new year for every coach in the NFL, but not every coach will survive the year. Already, there’s speculation about which coaches could be on the hot seat in 2018. Some coaches with shaky job security may include:

  • Hue Jackson, Browns: Jackson is the oddsmaker’s favorite to lose his job first. After compiling a 1-31 record in his two seasons at the helm in Cleveland, it’s hard to argue with the professionals. Jackson certainly has more talent to work with thanks to the arrivals of running back Carlos Hyde, wide receiver Jarvis Landry, and a vastly improved secondary, but along with that comes raised expectations. When also considering that Jackson is a holdover from the previous regime and not necessarily the preferred choice of new GM John Dorsey, it’s quite possible that Jackson could be ousted with another bad start.
  • Adam Gase, Dolphins: When Gase was hired in 2016, he was the league’s youngest head coach at the age of 38. He earned a playoff appearance in his first year on the sidelines, but last year turned ugly after quarterback Ryan Tannehill was lost for the season and replaced by Jay Cutler. Tannehill’s return should help matters, but it’s fair to wonder whether this team has improved much at all after losing Ndamukong Suh on the other side of the ball. The Dolphins’ early schedule may also hurt Gase as they open against the Titans, Jets, Raiders, and Patriots. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see the Dolphins split those games, like they did in 2017, but it’s also conceivable that they could open the year 0-4. As you can probably guess, an 0-4 start is historically difficult to climb out from. Of the 117 teams that have started 0-4 in the 16-game era, the ’92 Chargers are the ones to have reached the postseason with with an 11-win campaign. The 2004 Bills and the 2017 Chargers both rallied to win nine games, but neither club reached the playoffs.
  • Marvin Lewis, Bengals: The Lewis saga took some weird twists and turns last season. In the midst of a second-straight season without a playoff appearance, there was speculation about Lewis’ job security. Then, in December, we started hearing rumblings that Lewis might leave the Bengals to pursue opportunities elsewhere. Ultimately, Lewis was signed to a two-year extension to, theoretically, keep him under contract for his 16th and 17th seasons in Cincinnati. Lewis has avoided lame duck status for 2018, but there’s no guarantee that he’ll survive the year if the Bengals falter.
  • Vance Joseph, Broncos: Joseph was nearly axed after the 2017 season before John Elway ultimately decided to retain him. The Broncos’ defense is still jam-packed with talent and they have a capable quarterback in Case Keenum, so anything short of a playoff appearance will be a disappointment in Denver. This will be Joseph’s second season at the helm in Denver, but it’s clear that he is under pressure it win.
  • Dirk Koetter, Buccaneers: Koetter was already believed to be on the hot seat but he was placed squarely behind the 8-ball last week when quarterback Jameis Winston was suspended for the first three games of the season. Even if the Bucs come out of September unscathed, they’ll be up against an overall schedule that is the fourth-toughest in the NFL, based on the combined win percentage of opponents in 2017.

The list goes on from there. Jay Gruden (Redskins), Todd Bowles (Jets), Bill O’Brien (Texans), Jason Garrett (Cowboys), John Harbaugh (Ravens), and Ron Rivera (Panthers) could also be in varying degrees of jeopardy with disappointing seasons. We’d be surprised to see a quick hook for Garrett, Harbaugh, or Rivera no matter what happens, but you may feel differently.

Click below to make your pick for who will be the first to get the axe. Then, you can head to the comment section to back up your choice.

[RELATED: The Average Age Of NFL Head Coaches In 2018]

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.