Take a bow, Vance Joseph

Oct 30, 2023, 11:11 PM | Updated: Oct 31, 2023, 2:11 am

Vance Joseph has plenty of reasons to smile right now. That’s because his Broncos defense has authored a massive — and, in some circles, unexpected — turnaround.

Consider this: They have allowed fewer touchdowns in their last five games combined than they did in one South Florida afternoon last month.

That’s where the postgame look at numbers begins:


Touchdowns allowed by the Broncos defense of Vance Joseph in the team’s last five games — two fewer than the total number of touchdowns yielded during the 70-point debacle in Miami on Sept. 24.

To take it a step further, the Broncos yielded 4 more touchdowns in the first three quarters in Chicago on Oct. 1. In the 17 quarters since then, Denver’s defense has allowed just four touchdowns.

From the second quarter against Washington through the third quarter of Week 4, the Broncos defense allowed 18 touchdowns — an average of 7.2 per 60 minutes. Denver yielded a catastrophic 52.0 points per 60 minutes during that span of the season.

In the 17 quarters since, the Broncos defense has permitted just 0.9 touchdowns and 15.6 points per 60 minutes.

If coaching is measured by improvement and maximizing capability, Vance Joseph deserves a slew of gold stars for his work in turning the Broncos’ defense from a sieve into a

120, 20, 3 and 0

As in fewer than 120 passing yards and 20 attempts … but with at least 3 touchdown passes and no interceptions.

That was Russell Wilson’s category on Sunday, as he somehow pulled off a stat line not seen in nearly a decade, going 12-of-19 for 114 yards with 3 touchdowns and no picks.

The emphasis on the run — and the limited use of Wilson, whose passing chart was astounding, and not in an entirely positive connotation.

But what Wilson did was also somewhat common at one point in football history.

To illustrate the old-school nature of Wilson’s performance, consider this: Of the 30 such stat lines since 1930, 24 of them came before 1980. Just six came after that — with only one in the last 10 seasons, including this campaign.

Prior to Sunday, the most recent stat line like this was on Dec. 9, 2013, when Tony Romo went 11-of-20 for 104 yards, 3 touchdowns and no interceptions in a 45-28 Dallas Cowboys loss to the Chicago Bears.


Percentage of plays that were runs Sunday — the third-highest run rate in the NFL this season.

For the Broncos, the run percentage was the club’s fourth-highest since the end of Tim Tebow’s time at quarterback. But the other three had extenuating circumstances:

Dec. 14, 2017 at Indianapolis – Run percentage: 62.2

Starting quarterback Trevor Siemian left during the first half, replaced by backup Brock Osweiler.

Dec. 14, 2014 at San Diego – Run percentage: 62.3

Quarterback Peyton Manning battled through a thigh injury and flu-like symptoms. He left briefly late in the second quarter and returned after halftime. The Broncos ran twice as often as they passed (18 rushing attempts, 9 pass plays) after Manning came back into the game.

Nov. 29, 2020 vs. New Orleans – Run percentage: 76.7

The Broncos played without a quarterback after the entire QB room ran afoul of COVID-19 regulations.


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Take a bow, Vance Joseph