Vance Joseph's first year back in Denver was about as adventurous of one as a defensive coordinator can have. Joseph truly felt the highest highs and lowest lows throughout the regular season. One of the main goals for Joseph and his staff this spring should be to find ways to limit the lows that the defensive unit feels.
One way to do this would be to ensure the staff heading into the 2024 season is stronger than the one that left the 2023 campaign. Joseph can do this by bringing in some more strong, veteran voices to his staff. Let's take a look at two names who could fit that bill.
1) Former Jets and Bills coach Rex Ryan
Rex Ryan to the Broncos in some capacity feels almost inevitable. Ryan has been rumored to the Broncos on two separate occasions now, once during the defensive coordinator search and once after the Dolphins dropped 70 points on Joseph's squad in week three. Ryan ended the 2023 season remaining with the ESPN crew, but that might not be for long. Ryan would make a ton of sense for Joseph to bring in, and his relationship with Sean Payton could help seal the deal.
Ryan seems interested in returning to football, but considering he is now 61 and has one of the more cushiony jobs in sports media, it would be fair to wonder if Ryan wants to return to the NFL in a full-time, full-scope defensive coordinator job. The demands of the job, leaving his ESPN gig, and re-acclimating to the 24/7 life of the NFL could all be factors that keep Ryan away from a defensive coordinator job. In the case that Ryan wants to return to the NFL but does not want all of the aforementioned burdens, a senior defensive assistant could make a ton of sense for the veteran coach.
Publicly, Ryan has been complimentary of the Broncos under Sean Payton. Despite interviewing for the defensive coordinator position after Payton was hired, Ryan remained positive in his public comments regarding Payton and his team. Ryan entered the NFL in 1999, two years after Payton did. The two never crossed paths or even ended up in the same conference, but have maintained a strong respect for each other through the years. Ryan could find his angle back into football as a strong assistant to Sean Payton, especially in his CEO approach to coaching, and help lead Vance Joseph to better days in Denver.