There is probably no figure in Denver sports who has been more under fire this year than Vance Joseph. The Broncos' defensive coordinator, who is in his second stint with the team and first Denver stint as the defensive coordinator, could not have gotten off to a worse start. However, since then, the Broncos' defense has stepped up in a massive way, and Joseph deserves a ton of credit.
As a whole, his first year back in Denver has taken a huge step in the right direction, and the veteran coach is owed an apology, and here is why.
Righting the ship after a rocky start
While the Broncos only allowed 18 points in their first game, the team saw seven defensive possessions, making for a high points-per-drive average. The defense then collapsed in week two at home against Sam Howell and the Commanders, who are now one of the worst defenses in football. After week two came arguably the worst defensive performance in National Football League history.
The Broncos and Joseph allowed 70 points to the high-powered Dolphins, one of the worst marks in NFL history. Calls for Joseph's job came before the game even ended and did not stop for some time. However, the defense played much better in Week 4 against Chicago and was able to generate timely takeaways that helped seal their win.
Building off their Week 4 improvements, the Broncos' defense has allowed an average of 19 points over their last four games, low-lighted by a 31 spot to the Jets (7 of which came after a fumble returned for a touchdown by the Jets' defense), highlighted by just 28 points in two meetings with the Chiefs and Patrick Mahomes.
The Broncos defense owned Mahomes and Andy Ried this year, picking off the quarterback more than they allowed him to throw for touchdowns. They sacked Mahomes their fair share of times as well, namely getting to him in the 4th quarter in their Week 8 game, sealing their first win over Mahomes, and their first over the Chiefs in eight years. The Broncos' defense has taken massive steps forward, and a ton of props are owed to Vance Joseph.
Commitment to the new system and younger players
When the Broncos brought in Vance Joseph, one of the first things noted by Sean Payton and the staff was that they would continue to run the same system of defense, despite Joseph using a different defensive system in his previous stops. In coaching a new system, Joseph would go through growing pains and struggle a bit, but no one expected that to include giving up 105 total points during weeks two and three, including a 70-burger in Miami. Since then, the Broncos have settled in nicely, moved on from aging veterans who were under-contributing and have increased their takeaway turnout.
Joseph has remained steadfast in his commitment to the system he is running, and the results are beginning to show. The Broncos have allowed just 76 points over their last four games, including 28 total to the Chiefs lead Mahomes. The Broncos also took the ball away from Kansas City five times in their week eight victory, leading to the Chiefs scoring just nine points and holding the ball eight more minutes than the Chiefs did. The Broncos are playing much better on the defensive side of the ball, are getting strong contributions from their younger players, and are trending upwards. Vance Joseph deserves a ton of credit for their recent success and should get an apology.