Denver Broncos should fire Vance Joseph as soon as they can

After an embarrassing showing, Denver Broncos defensive coordinator Vance Joseph should be relieved of his duties as soon as possible.
Denver Broncos
Denver Broncos / Loren Elliott/GettyImages

The Denver Broncos are coming off a devastating loss in Week 2 against the Washington Commanders in what really should have been a victory added to the win column for Denver. However, it was an embarrassing showing for defensive coordinator Vance Joseph and the Broncos' defense in just their second game of the new season.

Denver's defense allowed a staggering 35 points to a Sam Howell-led Washington offense and never made any adjustments to stop offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy's offensive attack which thus cost them the game. Broncos held the Commanders to a low 30% third-down conversion rate however, allowed 388 total yards and were dominated in the time possession by a differential of approximately seven and a half minutes.

Defensively, the Broncos appeared very undisciplined under Vance Joseph and were committing multiple needless, unnecessary penalties through all four quarters. And when the momentum seemed like it may swing in the favor of the Broncos' offense, the defense only became worse as the game progressed. Tackling was a consistent issue throughout the game which happened to be a major issue for Joseph's defense in Denver during his tenure as the franchise's head coach from 2017-2018.

To make matters worse, pass rushers and linebacker blitzes were taking very questionable pursuit angles to the quarterback in an effort to generate pressure however, this only resulted in being stuffed at the line of scrimmage and Commanders QB Sam Howell having even more time to throw the football. While edge rushers Nik Bonitto and Jonathon Cooper were able to create a handful of pressures, Denver totaled just four sacks the entire game against a Washington offensive line that allowed six sacks in the season opener to the Arizona Cardinals defense. Take that how you will.

Vance Joseph also had a very interesting schematic approach in his game plan against Washington's offense considering the high amount of zone coverage usage, even in late-down situations. For example, it seemed Broncos CB Damarri Mathis had sat back in zone coverage more than 75% of his coverage reps despite being a much more talented corner one-on-one in man coverage in 2022. However, instead of utilizing the talent of his young defensive pieces to their greatest strengths, Joseph had other plans.

All in all, the 2023 Denver Broncos defense seems all too reminiscent of the Broncos' 2018 defense under Joseph which allowed 265 passing yards per game in a primarily heavy zone coverage scheme. In fact, Howell accumulated 299 yards through the air on Sunday on 69% completion rate. The worst part was how easily Howell was able to chew up Joseph's secondary while dealing with an inconsistent pass rush. It appears the anti-Vance Joseph crowd may have been right all along when discussing his reunion with the Broncos this offseason.

As crazy as it may sound, Denver may have quite possibly been better off promoting defensive backs coach Christian Parker to defensive coordinator in the first place. The 31-year-old coach has received nothing but praise from every player and coach he has worked with and seems to be only getting better every week. Losing former defensive coordinator Ejiro Evero to the Carolina Panthers has immensely hurt the Broncos' defensive production on the field to start the season but carrying over the continuity from the success of the 2022 defense certainly would have been beneficial to the team if Parker were to be leading the way and calling plays. While hope may seem lost, there is still a chance for that to happen, however.


Denver's defense has simply been the anchor of the team's success that has held them back from keeping afloat however, a good start to bouncing back from two back-to-back losses would be relieving Vance Joseph of his duties as soon as this week. It is clear the defensive scheme that is being run by Denver's defense is not a collaborative effort by Joseph and Parker but is simply a continuation of what Arizona's defense ran from 2019-2022 under Joseph. It would be an instant learning curve for Parker as a first-time DC who will have to rally a struggling defense. However, if Parker is able to lead this group and apply his knowledge from Evero's successful one-year stint to the 2023 season, an early change at defensive coordinator may be in the best interest of this Broncos coaching staff.

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