Engelwood, Colo – Since Gary Kubiak was introduced as the 15th head coach of the Denver Broncos last Tuesday, he immediately began to set about building his staff. Rick Dennison, his quarterbacks coach in Baltimore, was hired as offensive coordinator. Just recently, Bill Kollar was hired out from under Kubiak’s old team in Houston to be the Broncos defensive line coach. There have been other hires but these are the key ones.
The big one still missing is defensive coordinator. While at the Senior Bowl, I heard buzz that John Elway and the Broncos contingent, who were present in Mobile, were talking with Wade Phillips to take the DC job. Phillips, of course, was the Broncos 11th head coach in franchise history and was Kubiak’s defensive coordinator in Houston.
But before Elway’s eye ever focused in on Phillips, he first had it set on Vance Joseph, secondary coach of the Cincinnati Bengals. Joseph was interviewed for the Broncos vacant head coaching position, but other than obeying the Rooney rule, it was generally believed that the interview took place as an opportunity to vet Joseph as a potential defensive coordinator for whomever the Broncos hired – Kubiak.
After the Kubiak hire, the Broncos contacted the Bengals about Joseph for DC, but were blocked by Cincinnati – an odd move, since it would represent a major step forward in Joseph’s coaching career, to go from an assistant to an actual coordinator.
But ESPN Denver's Jeff Legwold is now reporting that the Bengals stance on the issue might be softening. They might be willing to let Joseph jump ship if they can find a suitable replacement. Legwold cites Perry Fewell, former defensive coordinator of the New York Giants, and once an applicant for the Broncos head coaching vacancy in 2009, as a possible replacement for Joseph as the Bengals secondary coach.
It was an oddly dictatorial move by the Bengals to restrict Joseph’s opportunity to advance his career. It’s not like the Broncos wanted him in a lateral move for their secondary coach. They were offering him a job that would be a step up in the right direction.
But if the Bengals think Fewell can step in and fill his shoes, the Broncos might end up getting the guy they originally wanted to replace Jack Del Rio as defensive coordinator. However, Fewell is rumored to also be in the running for a gig with the San Francisco 49ers.
What this development means for Wade Phillips’ candidacy remains to be seen. He’s been out of football for a year and might want to stay out. Joseph also has ties to Kubiak, working as a defensive assistant from 2011-13.