Vance Joseph and John Elway sat side-by-side for their state-of-the-Broncos press conference in the UCHealth Training Center auditorium.
There were times when I started squirming for them.
There was Elway talking about how he did essentially consider moving on from his head coach after the Denver Broncos finished 5-11 in 2017.
Awk-ward. Then again, this is professional football. Elway said it straight and Joseph never flinched.
“It's my responsibility to think about other options,'' Elway said. “To kind of see what would be best for our football team. Kind of thought of different options but ultimately our goal was to stay with Vance and give that a shot and I will say to give him the best opportunity to be successful. I don't feel like we gave him that chance. … And that's on me.''
Later, in an interview with 9NEWS, Elway went deeper into the process of how he came about retaining Joseph.
“The hardest part was 5-11,'' Elway said. “Going through that process really the last couple weeks of the season trying to figure out, 'Is Vance the right guy? And if he's not the right guy, who is that?''
Two weeks ago, Elway and Joseph had a heart-to-heart, closed-door talk. It was after discussion that Elway said he started to become convince to stick with Joseph.
“I kind of went back to an interview process with him,'' Elway said. “I said, 'OK, now we know what we know. Tell me how you're going to fix it.'
“He had a lot of good answers there. It was at that point in time I was leaning Vance. But obviously with my job and the expectations they have of me here is I had to explore different options to see what else was available and ultimately it came down to I think Vance is still the right man for the job.
On the personnel side, we've got to do a better job of helping him in certain situations to give him a chance to be successful.'' (To see our sit-down interview with Elway, watch ''The Broncos Huddle'' at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday on 9News and 10:30 p.m. Wednesday on Channel 20).
Joseph said he wants to coach his coaches better. And he will have new coaches after firing six on Monday, including running backs coach Eric Studesville, receivers coach Tyke Tolbert and offensive line coach Jeff Davidson.
“As far as our football team you have to make some changes and in my opinion, it was time to move on to change the culture in certain rooms,'' Joseph said. “Obviously, Eric and Tyke and Jeff Davidson are all good people and football coaches. They've been here through a lot of winning years.
“In my opinion, it was time to change the culture so we could get back to pushing our players to be the best that they can be and getting our best players to play at their best all the time.''
More squirming. The Broncos will not make any more coaching staff changes, at least for now. Joe Woods will return as defensive coordinator and Bill Musgrave as offensive coordinator. The team is searching for a new special teams coordinator to replace Brock Olivo, who was also fired Monday.
There will be a seventh coaching change. A league source told 9News that Joseph is targeting Ben McAdoo or Ken Zampese as his quarterbacks coach, a position currently held on an interim basis by Klint Kubiak.
McAdoo, the New York Giants' recently fired head coach, was on the San Francisco 49ers' staff with Joseph in 2005. Zampese and Joseph were on the Cincinnati Bengals' coaching staff in 2014-15.
Both McAdoo and Zampese are first hoping to fill an offensive coordinator position. Klint Kubiak will be retained on the coaching staff. The Broncos are also interviewed former UTEP head coach Sean Kugler for their vacant offensive line coach Tuesday and will interview their own offensive line assistant Chris Strausser for the top job.
About 20 minutes after Elway and Joseph held their joint press conference, Broncos' president and chief executive officer Joe Ellis addressed the media and took responsibility for perhaps allowing a satisfied mindset to infiltrate UCHealth Training Center after the franchise enjoyed so much success from 2011-15, when it won five consecutive AFC West Division titles, played in two Super Bowls and won one world championship.
“Expectations are fine, we should always have them but we shouldn't make assumptions,'' Ellis said. “And I feel like there's times where you get a sense that as an organization maybe we're looking at a slogan on the wall, or three Super Bowl trophies in the locker room, or Super Bowl banners at the stadium facing our audience. We kind of assume that is the way it's going to be.
“If I let that creep into the organization, then I am the one that has to stop that mindset. I talked to John about it. I talked to Vance about it. They understand. We had good discussions. I'm going to talk to a lot of people in the organization about it in the next month. I feel responsible that I allow that. I'm not saying it's widespread, but if it is in there— and my sense is that at times it became that way—that needs to stop. I'm in charge of that.''
One sign of progress: The Sports Authority signs are coming down. No more looking at a bankrupt company. You gotta start somewhere.