The Denver Broncos have a new defensive coordinator in Joe Woods, who will be tasked with unleashing the NFL’s best defense…
The Denver Broncos have officially moved on from Wade Phillips, and are promoting defensive backs coach Joe Woods to the defensive coordinator position. This move, on the surface, stings a little bit.
When the Denver Broncos tried and failed to sign Vance Joseph as their defensive coordinator in 2015, fans were elated when the Son of Bum himself came to the Mile High City — again — to coach the Broncos’ immensely talented defense.
Phillips didn’t disappoint, coaching the Broncos’ defense to one of the greatest single seasons we have ever seen, and certainly one of the most dominant playoff runs. Ben Roethlisberger’s Steelers were held to 16 points. Tom Brady was hit 20, maybe 200 times in the AFC Championship game as the Broncos marched on to the Super Bowl after a gutty victory.
The Super Bowl was, as we look back on it, poetic justice for Broncos fans. Until the late 90s, the Super Bowl was merely a stage set for misery as far as the Broncos were concerned. Super Bowl 50, however, was an obliteration of the Carolina Panthers. A final score of 24-10 doesn’t tell the story of just how great Phillips’ unit was in that game.
It’s a team effort, of course, but that torch is now being passed on to 46-year old Joe Woods, the Broncos’ defensive backs coach and as Nicki Jhabvala of The Denver Post so appropriately calls him, the air traffic controller of the No Fly Zone…
Woods has been a football coach almost as long as I’ve been alive. He’s won a Super Bowl with the Denver Broncos and seen how Wade Phillips operates when calling plays. He’s coached the top pass defense two yeas in a row now, and there’s definitely something to be said for that. The Broncos consider Woods to be a rising coaching star in this league, so the decision to promote him now made sense on the whole.
There are rumors swirling that Wade Phillips’ departure was more of a decision made by John Elway and Phillips himself than Vance Joseph, who has repeatedly commented on how much Phillips’ influence has meant for his coaching career…
Phillips accepted the defensive coordinator position with the Los Angeles Rams, where he will work for Sean McVay, the youngest head coach in NFL History (30). It stands to reason that while Wade is accepting an excellent job out in L.A., his departure was not necessarily an ousting but rather a mutual decision to part ways…
…Unlike it was with John Fox.
Woods isn’t as decorated as Phillips, but he’s certainly highly regarded. I found this bit from Gary Kubiak Jhabvala’s post, linked above, of particular interest:
"“He’s tremendous,” said Broncos coach Gary Kubiak. “When I came here, one of my very close friends in this business — he’s a defensive coordinator in Miami (Vance Joseph) and a really good coach — told me, ‘You go get this guy.’ I didn’t know Joe. Boy, was he right. He’s been special.”"
Woods’ specialty with film study, intensity, and progressive style make him a great fit for this new Denver Broncos coaching staff as a coordinator, not just a defensive backs coach. He will certainly have a lot of added responsibility, but the most awesome part of Woods’ job now is that he gets to coach every player on this Denver Broncos defense, which has been heavily invested into.
John Elway clearly has belief in what Woods can do as well, or he wouldn’t have signed off on this move. He’s banking on Vance Joseph leading the charge into the future, but also on the fact that Woods can effectively step into the role once filled by an all-time great defensive coordinator.
We will not diminish the loss of Wade Phillips, but it’s important to know that the Broncos have a talented coach taking his place in Joe Woods.