There’s one less NFL head coaching vacancy, as Denver Broncos executive vice president of football operations and general manager John Elway announced Wednesday that the team has hired Miami Dolphins defensive coordinator Vance Joseph. Joseph replaced Gary Kubiak, who one year after leading the franchise to its third Super Bowl victory tendered his resignation for health reasons. Here’s what you need to know about Joseph’s coaching and playing careers, and his family.
1. Joseph Spent the 2016 Season with the Miami Dolphins
Joseph arrives in Denver after spending the 2016 season with the Miami Dolphins. This past season was Joseph’s first in Miami and his first as a defensive coordinator at either the collegiate or professional level. The Dolphins finished the regular season ranked 29th in total defense (382.6 yards allowed per game), 15th in passing defense (242.2 yards allowed per game) and 30th in rushing defense (140.4 yards allowed per game).
While the yards and scoring (18th in scoring defense) were not where the Dolphins hoped they would be, Joseph’s defense was ranked in the top ten in turnover percentage. The Dolphins forced a turnover on 13.2 percent of their defensive “possessions,” a mark that ranked ninth in the NFL. Miami finished the regular season ninth in interceptions with 16, two off the NFL high of 18 (Baltimore, Kansas City and San Diego).
This is the Second Time that Denver Has Interviewed Joseph
Joseph and Broncos executive vice president of football operations and general manager John Elway have agreed to a four-year contract, as reported by Ian Rapoport of NFL.com. This is the second time that Joseph interviewed with the Broncos regarding a head coaching vacancy, with the two sides having talks in 2015 before Denver made the decision to hire Kubiak.
Joseph’s interview in 2015 was the second conducted by the Broncos, with then-Broncos offensive coordinator Adam Gase being the first. Interestingly enough Gase was Joseph’s boss in Miami this season. Joseph was one of Gase’s first hires when he was going through the process of filling out his coaching staff last January.
Joseph Has Been Coaching in the NFL for More Than a Decade
Joseph has a total of 11 seasons of coaching experience at the NFL level. Included in that run are the three seasons he spent with the Houston Texans (2011-13), which were also Kubiak’s final three seasons as that franchise’s head coach. Joseph made the move from the college game to the NFL in 2005, when the San Francisco 49ers hired him as assistant defensive backs coach.
Joseph would be promoted to defensive backs coach the following season, and he served in that role until the end of the 2010 season. From there Joseph moved on to Houston as defensive backs coach for three seasons, and he would spend two years as Cincinnati’s defensive backs coach (2014-15). In 2015 San Francisco attempted to interview Joseph for its defensive coordinator opening, only to have Cincinnati reportedly refuse to grant the 49ers permission to speak with Joseph.
In Joseph’s two seasons with the Bengals, Cincinnati intercepted a total of 41 passes (20 in 2014, 21 in 2015), with defensive back Reggie Nelson tying for the league lead in interceptions with eight during the 2015 season.
4. Joseph Spent Seven Seasons Coaching at the Collegiate Level
Joseph’s coaching career began at his alma mater, Colorado, where he was hired as a graduate assistant in 1999. After three seasons in Boulder, Joseph made the move to Wyoming where he was the team’s defensive backs coach in 2002. The Marrero, Louisiana native would return to Boulder, serving as Colorado’s defensive backs coach from 2002-03. Joseph was also responsible for special teams during his time working for Gary Barnett at CU, and after the 2004 season he was hired by Gregg Brandon to coach defensive backs at Bowling Green.
5. Joseph Played in the NFL During the 1995 and 1996 Seasons
Joseph spent five seasons at the University of Colorado, playing four, as a quarterback from 1990-94. He didn’t see a lot of playing time, with Darian Hagan and fellow Marrero native Kordell Stewart being the starting quarterbacks during Joseph’s time in Boulder. Joseph wasn’t selected in the 1995 NFL Draft, but he performed well enough to earn a spot with the New York Jets in 1995. Joseph played in 13 games his rookie season, making six starts and finishing the year with two interceptions.
Joseph’s first start came against the Oakland Raiders in Week 5, and at times he was asked to cover future Hall of Fame wide receiver Tim Brown. Brown finished the game, which Oakland won by the final score of 47-10, with eight catches for 156 yards and two touchdowns. The Jets were hit hard by injuries in the secondary at that point in the season, and they turned to the inexperienced Joseph as a result. As one would expect the Raiders went after Joseph on multiple occasions that night, whether it was with Brown or another receiver. Joseph played in four games with the Indianapolis Colts in 1996.
Joseph’s older brother Mickey, who is currently the running backs coach at Louisiana Tech, played four seasons at Nebraska from 1988-91. Joseph and wife Holly have two children, one daughter (Nataly, 15 years old as of October 2016) and one son (Stone, nine years old as of last October 2016).