Vance Joesph's first season as the Denver Broncos' head coach got off to an impressive start. The rookie head coach was 3-1 after the first month of the season, a run that included a 42-17 win over the Dallas Cowboys in Week 2.
But the Broncos' fast start came to a screeching halt when they lost eight games in a row. This unexpected meltdown was enough to put Joseph on the hot seat just one year into his head coaching tenure. It seemed as though he’d join the list of coaches relieved of their duties on Black Monday when Broncos general manager John Elway opted to skip the Rose Bowl and stay in Denver to meet with Joseph, per Mike Klis of 9News.
Instead, Elway decided to give his struggling coach one more shot to turn the Broncos around.
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.— John Elway (@johnelway) January 1, 2018
Why was Joseph on the hot seat? The Broncos regressed in a big way in 2017. They finished with a 5-11 record and didn't look like the same team that hoisted the Vince Lombardi Trophy just two years ago.
The source of Denver's problems came from arguably the most important position in football: quarterback. Trevor Siemian, Brock Osweiler, and Paxton Lynch all started and failed to consistently provide a much-needed spark in the passing game. Denver averaged 17.7 points per game and finished the season as the 27th-ranked scoring offense.
While the quarterback carousel ruined the Broncos' season, the defense held up its end of the bargain and finished as a top-three unit. For the past three seasons, Denver has been a defensive-oriented team that needed a quarterback to help make a few plays.
But those quarterbacks couldn't get the job done this year, which almost cost Joseph his job. In all fairness to Joseph, though, he did not draft or sign any of these quarterbacks. That all falls on John Elway.
What's next for the Broncos? Denver can’t rely on its defense to do it all. It has to find a quarterback who can help this team win games. As of right now, it looks like that man isn't on the roster. The Broncos can either draft another signal caller or sign one in free agency, like Kirk Cousins.
Denver's stout defense, led by linebacker Von Miller, has exceeded expectations for the past three years. Now, it's time for the offense to pick up some slack.
What's next for Joseph? Joseph, 45, is still one of the youngest coaches in the NFL and will get another shot to prove he belongs as a head coach. However, he’ll have to prove he can handle offensive duties after maintaining the team’s string of defensive excellence in 2017. A league-average offense would be enough to push the Broncos back into the playoff race — and that’ll be a top priority for the team this offseason.