The Gazette, Colorado Springs


Opposing offenses scoring 35 points on a Vance Joseph defenseless defense is not an aberration, Broncos Nation must realize with resignation. Joseph has to go — again. Not at the end of the season, but now. Sean Payton didn’t defend the coordinator Sunday while criticizing the “poor’’ defense that will “see a lot better offenses’’ than the Commanders. For instance, the Dolphins Sunday. Meanwhile, the losing offseason finalist for the coordinator’s job, former Jets head coach and current ESPN NFL commentator Rex Ryan, railed on Joseph’s defense Monday. “They were supposed to be the No. 1 defense if I was going to be the coordinator there,’’ he said on national TV. “I don’t know what the hell they are doing.’’ Joseph never has produced a top-10 defense, in points permitted, as a coordinator or head coach. If Payton is so smart and savvy, why did he choose Joseph over Ryan — or anybody else? Last season, when Joseph was the Cardinals’ coordinator, they gave up 44 points to the Chiefs in the opener and were blasted in other games by 38, 38, 34, 34 and 31 points. In 2016, Joseph oversaw a Dolphins defense that allowed 31, 30, 38, 31 and, yes, 35 points in games. Then, after Joseph was chosen by the Broncos to be head coach in 2017, his defense was devastated by the Dolphins for, yes, 35 points, and — get this — 41 by the Patriots and 51 by the Eagles. The man who employed Joseph, John Elway, was at the stadium Sunday for yet another Broncos defeat and Joseph failure. The ’16 Dolphins ranked 18th of 32 NFL teams in points against (380). The Broncos were 22nd in ’17 (382) and 13th in ’18 (349). Following his firing in Denver and hiring in Phoenix, the Cardinals were 16th (461), 13th (410), 11th (366) and, in 2022, next-to-last at 449. His offenses with the Broncos were even worse — finishing 24th and 27th in points for. Vance’s defense couldn’t prevent quarterback Sam Howell, starting only his fourth pro game, and the common Commanders and offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy, who was Joseph’s teammate at CU, from erasing a 21-3 deficit and scoring on five of seven possessions from the second to the fourth quarter. The previous Sunday the defense allowed only 17 points but didn’t stop the Raiders from scoring on three of just five possessions that didn’t conclude with kneel-downs. The Dolphins scored 36 against the Chargers in Week 1 and 24 vs. the Patriots Sunday night. Their defensive boss is good ol’ Vic Fangio, who held the Bill Belichick Bunch to 17 points. Mike Mcdaniel, the former Broncos ballboy and intern who played wide receiver at Smoky Hill High School in Aurora, didn’t even get a sniff for the head coaching job in Denver last year even though he was an assistant under Mike and Kyle Shanahan (and was recommended by me in a column), coached in the NFL for 14 seasons and has been to a Super Bowl with the 49ers and served as their offensive coordinator two years ago. The 40-year-old walk-on at and graduate of Yale, with a degree in history, guided the Dolphins to the playoffs in his rookie head coaching season and has them at 2-0 currently. Meanwhile, back in his home state, Payton is 0-2. He spent much of his time after the game and on Monday talking about the Broncos’ offensive problems, which have existed since Joseph was the head coach, but he acknowledged Monday that the Broncos lead the league in only one defensive category — penalties. The Broncos have a dozen. The coach did address the defense Sunday evening: “I thought we were poor.’’ Payton said the offense “didn’t help (the defense) with field position, with the turnover, but our red-zone defense was poor.’’ Ryan was more disparaging. He praised the Broncos offense for its league-best points per possession, but said the defense is to blame entirely: “When I saw the talent there I thought there was no reason they wouldn’t be the top defense in the league.’’ Perhaps Vance will advance the usual anemic quote from his head-coaching error: “We had a good week of practice.” He once announced a new slogan: “Not surviving,” which had no meaning then. But it does now. Joseph deserves “not surviving’’ unless the defense drastically improves immediately.