After one of the most disappointing seasons in Broncos history, many were surprised to see Head Coach Vance Joseph get a second chance. General Manager John Elway had shared some of the blame as he felt that he did not put together a roster strong enough to give Joseph a fair chance. Things will be different this year as Elway has fixed most of last year’s deficiencies. Since Joseph now has a competitive roster, how well will Joseph have to perform in 2018 to stabilize his career in Denver?
What Are the Expectations for Vance Joseph in 2018?
John and John
It’s not exactly a well-kept secret that Elway doesn’t have much tolerance for failure from his coaches. Simply ask ex-Broncos Head Coach John Fox, who was fired less than one year after reaching the Super Bowl and coaching the best offense in NFL history. One year after making the Super Bowl, Fox lost at home in the Divisional round after securing a first-round bye. Many thought that he was one of the safest coaches in the league. As history shows, that was not the case.
Officially, Fox and Elway mutually parted ways in the 2015 off-season. However, the circumstances surrounding the departure tell another story. Fox was part of a special team playing at their peak, despite the disappointing playoff loss. What coach would want to leave one of the best teams in the league with nothing else lined up? Also, it’s easy to tell that from Elway’s perspective, the Broncos were quickly slipping in the wrong direction. It was no secret that Elway was jonesing for a Lombardi Trophy. Finally, the Broncos roster was objectively better than it was during the Super Bowl run. If an Elway with strong confidence in his roster was so quick to pressure Fox out of the door, this same Elway will not hesitate to do the same to Vance Joseph if he doesn’t produce results.
However, what would be considered “results?” What if Joseph’s team has another bad season? If the Broncos make the playoffs but get blown out of the water, what happens then? What if the team lands somewhere in-between?
5-11 Or Worse?
Elway (and just about everyone) expects more from the team than last year. The roster is unequivocally better than the previous year so if the team doesn’t at least produce better results, Vance Joseph might not even make it to Week 17. In this scenario, the only way that Joseph could survive until 2019 would be if injuries hit early and hard. Even then, the odds would be stacked against him.
What if the Broncos barely miss the playoffs in a fashion similar to that of the 2017 Baltimore Ravens? What if the Broncos make the playoffs but look out of their depth? If either of these events come to pass, Joseph should fear for his job. However, the outcome would not be obvious because it would be an improvement from the previous year. It could simply come down to Elway’s mood on the day of the decision. In the end, Joseph’s first playoff game will be a tone-setter for his career and could make or break it, at least in Denver.
Would Joseph be safe if he was able to win a playoff game but ended up losing the next? It could be enough to save his job for another year. That being said, if Joseph were to get blown out the next week, his future could possibly come into question.
What if the Broncos were to dominate the regular season, earn a bye, and then lose their first playoff game? it would be hard to pin the blame on Vance Joseph if they lost a close, competitive game. On the other hand, if they were to get blown out, Joseph could be seen as a choke artist and someone who cannot handle the pressure of the playoffs. Joseph’s seat would flip from ice cold to very hot if this were to happen.
If the Broncos can make it to the AFC Championship game, one game away from the Super Bowl, would it be enough? Assuming he doesn’t completely flush the game down the toilet, Joseph’s job should be secure without a doubt. After making the AFC championship game, the majority of questions surrounding Joseph would turn from mostly negative to mostly positive. Instead of questioning Joseph’s future in the league, the focus would shift to his accomplishments. When the narrative shifts, Elway’s mind will follow.
Joseph’s Goal For 2018?
As long as Vance Joseph doesn’t go 7-9 or worse, he has at least a decent chance to remain the Broncos head coach for another year. However, in order to give himself the best shot, he will need to at least make the playoffs and not get blown out of the water. If he can win a playoff game, his odds will skyrocket.
In the end, if he can show his face in January and not completely embarrass himself, he should be able to keep his job for another year. However, in a league where only six out of 16 teams can get there, the head coach has his work cut out for him.