Vance Joseph pinpoints Broncos defensive woes, pins blame

Sep 21, 2023, 5:17 PM | Updated: Sep 22, 2023, 9:37 am

ENGLEWOOD—Vance Joseph has already been on the hot seat once in Denver and the former head coach of the Broncos got fired. Now the defensive coordinator, just two games into another stint in the Mile High, Joseph’s defense isn’t proving to be very good and folks are getting antsy.

By expected points added on Pro Football Reference only the Raiders and Chargers are off to worse defensive starts than the Broncos. And Joseph led the second-worst defense in the league by points allowed last season in Arizona, while the Broncos remained among the league’s best in points allowed despite the team nearly giving up toward season’s end.

It’s this year-over-year decline on the defense that has doomed Denver to losses by a point and two points through two weeks of pretty solid offensive football.

“There was some good stuff from both games, losing puts a light on all of it,” Joseph said on Thursday. “Penalties are huge right now, they’re hurting us on defense—keeping drives alive, and we’re playing a lot of snaps because of penalties. We gotta coach our way out of it and getting those things right, I’ll do a better job.”

He’s right to some extent. Denver has allowed a league-worst 10 first downs given via penalty. But killing the Broncos too is a lack of pressure on the quarterback, which is third-worst in the league.

“You have to coach clean, these third-down penalties from holding or PI, you gotta coach cleaner,” Joseph says. “I don’t care how they look or if they’re so-so calls, we gotta fix it. It’s playing clean, leverage and film study.”

Looking closer into the Broncos penalty data through two games reveals a defensive penalty on all three of the Raiders touchdown drives in Week 1 against Denver and the same is true of every Commanders scoring drive in Week 2.

“Those things are correctable, I’m not worried about it,” Joseph said. “There’s enough good football on tape and it’s still early.”

The Broncos will likely be without star safety Justin Simmons against the high-power Miami Dolphins attack on Sunday. Their defense is led by former Broncos head coach Vic Fangio, who was at one point connected to Sean Payton to take the same job Joseph now has.




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Vance Joseph pinpoints Broncos defensive woes, pins blame