INDIANAPOLIS—There were two incidents last season that were factors in John Elway making Vance Joseph the Denver Broncos’ new head coach.
The first happened after week 2 when Broncos receivers Emmanuel Sanders and Demaryius Thomas complained they weren’t getting enough passes thrown their way. Week 2.
Even though their gripes worked as Sanders and Thomas combined for 15 receptions for 217 yards and three touchdowns in the Broncos’ week 3 game at Cincinnati, it was still a we-before-team moment.
The other incident was when star cornerback Aqib Talib shoved Jordan Norwood after Norwood muffed a punt in the Broncos’ game against Kansas City on Sunday night, Nov. 27.
Talib is a team-first guy. He was angry because Norwood’s muff hurt the team. But team guys aren’t supposed to show up a teammate in front of a prime-time, nationally televised audience.
When Broncos’ head coach Gary Kubiak resigned at season’s end, general manager Elway believed Joseph was the correct choice to step in and lead the Broncos’ locker room that is full of strong characters.
How would Joseph have handled these two incidents?
“Well, I’ll say this: In the NFL, you’ve got to have accountability between the players,’’ he said in a sit-down interview with 9News here Tuesday at the NFL Scouting Combine. “Because the players dictate how you practice, how you play, how hard you play. Every coach in the league is preaching the same message: You’ve got to play hard, you’ve got to play disciplined. you’ve got to want it. But it comes from the players.
“But it’s not what you say. It’s how you say it. And it’s when and where you say it. I want guys to challenge teammates. But I want it done the right way. It has to be done right. But it’s how you say it and it’s when and where you say it.’’
Joseph, 44, spent 11 years as an NFL defensive backs coach before he became the Miami Dolphins’ defensive coordinator last season and then made the rather sudden leap to head coach this year.
Did he get into coaching with the idea of one day becoming a head coach?
“I think it evolved,’’ he said. “When you first get in the NFL you just want to survive. You want to survive and keep a job for seven or eight years. As time goes on, you want more as a coach. Not out of boredom, but you just want more of a challenge.
“As I came up through the ranks as a defensive backs coach I want to be a coordinator. And then from there I wanted to be a head coach and that happened really quick, after one year of being a coordinator. That was really surprising. But I’m excited to be here. I’m ready for the challenge.’’
The Broncos’ locker room will challenge any coach.