As I travel around Broncos Country, I notice that there’s a narrative which has taken hold over the last week, claiming that if Vance Joseph is hired as the Denver Broncos next head coach, Defensive Coordinator of the Super Bowl 50 Champions and expert tweeter (@sonofbum) Wade Phillips will be “shown the door.”
Because of this thought, Broncos Country is understandably up in arms. The Broncos would be hiring a first-time head coach and losing the guy who really was the architect of the stunningly successful defense that marauded through the playoffs and crushed the Carolina Panthers dreams in the penultimate matchup of the season. Losing him would be a blow.
http://www.scout.com/nfl/broncos/story/1742909-denver-broncos-head-coach... But if you look at the facts, the logic behind this idea just doesn’t make sense.
First, understand something very important; Phillips’ contract has ended. As of today, January 10th, he’s technically not employed by the Broncos any longer, making him a free agent and able to shop himself to any team that wishes to pay for his services.
Second, understand that Phillips is likely to command a great deal of money on the open market, and that teams have already expressed interest in him.
Third – and this is very important – Phillips may well leave Denver behind regardless of who is hired as head coach.
See, there’s a part of the above narrative which states that should Kyle Shanahan – of the Denver Shanahans, son of Mike, architect of offense – be hired in Denver, that Phillips would stay in town and keep coordinating this defense he helped to elevate in 2015 and 2016. There’s nothing about that idea which has been reported by a plugged in and reputable outlet.
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Broncos fans, hear this. If Wade Phillips leaves Denver, it will be because of monetary reasons, and because his contract has ended. It won’t be because someone was or was not hired as head coach of the team. Fact is, he’s already got one foot out the door, and no hire has been made.
Consider that Vance Joseph was hired by Phillips in Houston to work as the defensive backs coach. They have and have had a working relationship in the past, and Joseph would be willing to give Phillips full autonomy of the defense, while handing over control of the offense to an experienced offensive coordinator — rumors are swirling about Mike McCoy returning to Denver in this role.
This is probably the best case scenario for the future of the franchise. We saw what the little dictator Josh McDaniels did while he was in Denver, running the team and the offense, screaming on the sideline, and consistently being a little brat.
Given Kyle Shanahan’s reputation as a controlling offensive coordinator, given his history pissing people off in previous stops, given that it is unlikely he’ll give up play-calling even as a head coach, and given that hiring him does nothing more to guarantee the return of Phillips and his defense to Denver, is he really the right choice?
I like Joseph for the job because he’s willing to delegate responsibility to his coordinators so he can oversee the entire team.
Because the Broncos are hiring a head coach. And that’s what a head coach does.
Sam DeWitt is an Analyst at Mile High Huddle. You can find him on Twitter @TheSamDeWitt.