There have only been 17 African-American head coaches in the National Football League. Enter number 18, former Miami Dolphins’ defensive coordinator Joseph Vance.
Former CU Buff quarterback Vance Joseph, 44, is coming home. Denver Broncos’ General Manager John Elway introduced Joseph to the Bronco Nation on Jan. 12, as the team’s 16th head coach replacing popular retiring head coach Gary Kubiak.
Only 17 African-Americans have held the head coaching position in the NFL, and Joseph will be the Broncos’ first.
Well…that’s not entirely true. Technically, the Broncos did have another African-American head coach 17 years ago. Interim head coach Eric Studesville was at the helm for a cup of coffee (four games) at the end of the
Broncos’ disappointing 4 wins-14 loss 2010 season.
Joseph received the nod over Atlanta’s offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan and Kansas City’sspecial-teams coach Dave Toub. Elway hopes, along with several million Bronco fans, that Joseph will lead the Broncos’ to the Promised Land (a.k.a. another Super Bowl appearance).
On The Short List
Kubiak made his shocking retirement announcement on Jan. 2, 2017 after Denver routed division leader Oakland Raiders 24-6 in the regular season final. A week later, Elway hired Joseph as Kubiak’s successor.
Was it a short period of time?
Not really, sources say Joseph was on the Broncos’ short list two years earlier, when Elway hired Kubiak.
“He was actually on our radar when Gary came in,” Elway explains. “We wanted to talk to him as a head coach, but also as a defensive coordinator. He worked for Gary down in Houston, so that’s when he was on our radar.”
Joseph says the Denver head coaching job is a dream come true –especially since he played his college ball in Boulder, and lived in Denver duringthe
off season for a long time.
“I have a lot of friends and family here,” Joseph says. “I’m excited. That’s important to have support with your first opportunity as a head coach.”
Elway says, “After the shock of Gary stepping down and looking forward to trying to replace Gary. I’m going to be dead honest with you—I couldn’t be happier with the ability to fill Gary’s shoes with Vance Joseph.”
In The Beginning
Joseph enjoyed two seasons in the NFL as a defensive back. One season with the New York Jets, and the other season with the Indianapolis Colts before beginning his coaching career under the tutelage of then CU head coach, Gary Barnett in 1999 to 2001. After CU, and a brief stint at Ohio’s Bowling Green University, Joseph entered the pro ranks as a special teams coach for several NFL teams including the Bengals, Dolphins, Texans and ‘49ers.
However, it was Denver that had the insight to signed Joseph to a four-year contract as head coach.
“I’m proud and humbled to be the Broncos’ next head coach,” Joseph says. “This job won’t be a rebuild. It’s a re-boot.”
Joseph’s philosophy? Simple. Come to work, and meet the Broncos’ championship winning standards.
“We can’t skip the work, and we can’t skip the season,” Joseph says. “No one is going to give you 10 wins, 12 wins and put you in the playoffs. It starts with work.”
Every team meeting, every practice and every rep, Joseph’s goal is to make the team’s effort a winning performance. He says if the players and coaches buy into to his philosophy, it’s going to happen.
“If we don’t, it won’t happen,” Joseph says. “That’s our first order of business, to come to work.”
Elway underlined the point that the Broncos are less than a year removed from a world championship. So it was very important to find somebody to fit the philosophy and the culture the Broncos have established.
“Vance checks that box,” he says.
Joseph says he want the Denver offense to be attacking, even though he’s basically a defense guy.
“Being a defensive guy my entire career, only 14 seasons, when you play on offense that is attacking, it makes you be careful of your calls,” Joseph says. “Obviously defense wins championships, but you have to score points. I want an offense with swagger and I want an offense that’s up-tempo and has a chance to score a lot of points.”
The quarterback position, especially in Denver, is the mosthigh profile position on the roster. And Joseph hasn’t decided which quarterback (Trevor Simian or Paxton Lynch) he’s going to go with. Joseph says Simian, who is fast with the ball, has more experience and had a fine year.
“He makeslittle error with the football and that’s important,” Joseph says. “Paxton is a big, strong guy with a big arm. Its two different guys, but they’re both young and they’re both capable. It’s going to be an open competition. That’s going to make both guys better. Whoever is the best for our team, [we’ll] make sure that’s who is going to play.”