The Denver Broncos have the worst defense in the NFL in 2023, allowing 33.3 points per game. That figure includes one major outlier, a historic 70-point outing against the Miami Dolphins earlier this season. As bad as the Denver Broncos defense has been, it's not out of the realm of possibility to think that a coaching change on the defensive side could be coming in the near future.
But something of this magnitude?
Pat McAfee reported on his show some whispers he was hearing behind the scenes (from people who don't work with him at ESPN) that there is a chance former NFL head coach Rex Ryan -- currently employed by ESPN -- could make a return to the sidelines as soon as this season, and as defensive coordinator of the Denver Broncos.
That would mean replacing Vance Joseph in-season with someone who isn't even currently with the team.
Now, it must be noted as well that the report from McAfee was quickly refuted by his ESPN colleague Adam Schefter, who made no mistake about his source being Rex Ryan himself.
So, if you listen to Schefter's clip here, you can see that this idea is not only far-fetched but undoubtedly not happening. That doesn't mean Sean Payton is not having regrets about choosing Vance Joseph instead of going with Rex Ryan. That idea was pretty out-there in the first place, and perhaps Payton is having second thoughts (or has had many second thoughts) about not choosing Rex Ryan given the situation we find the team in right now.
Maybe Vance Joseph was the "safer" option. Maybe he was the cheaper option.
Whatever the case may be, don't be shocked if the Broncos truly are contemplating a major midseason change at the defensive coordinator position. Although to his credit, it was Vance Joseph's unit that played the best in the Broncos' most recent game against the Kansas City Chiefs. They may have given up nearly 400 yards of offense (not good) but they held Patrick Mahomes and Andy Reid to just 4-of-13 on third downs (which means they got to 13 third down situations in the first place) and 0-for-1 on fourth down.
There were signs of life, let's put it that way.
The team is still not fully healed from that 70-point game against the Dolphins. They obviously haven't been able to lean on the defense in the early goings of this season and the defense really cost them dearly in some winnable close games. Rex Ryan has been very critical of the Broncos this year, and rightfully so. They could have hired him, and he feels like he could have done a better job than Vance Joseph is doing.
The tough part of this whole situation is that Rex Ryan gets paid handsomely by ESPN. He's good at TV and he's paid accordingly. It's hard for an NFL team to compete with that but if Rex Ryan loves coaching, and wants to get back into it, that's perhaps a compromise he's going to have to settle with. The good news for Rex Ryan is, if the Broncos truly covet him (meaning Sean Payton), they have some of the richest owners in the league and obviously, now they have reason to spend on a defensive coordinator who can get the job done.
If not in-season, perhaps we see Rex Ryan in Denver for 2024.