Former Broncos head coach Vance Joseph is returning to the team as Sean Payton's defensive coordinator, according to reports.
Joseph went 11-21 as Broncos head coach in 2017 and 2018. He was fired by then-general manager John Elway after the 2018 season.
Rex Ryan, Matt Patricia, Sean Desai and Kris Richard also interviewed with the Broncos.
The return of "VJ" is a curious gamble for all parties involved. In Joseph's case, he can prove his frustrating tenure as Broncos head coach was not his fault — and the quick exits of Vic Fangio and Nathaniel Hackett after him provide support to that case. The other option is "VJ" being positioned as the fall guy if his second go-round in Broncos Country fails like the first.
In Payton's case, it's fair to wonder if the new coach settled on a defensive coordinator, considering Ryan's credentials and Joseph's sub-par history with the Broncos. Time (and the NFL standings) will tell.
Joseph spent the past four seasons as the defensive coordinator with the Cardinals. His defenses in Arizona ranked 32nd, 13th, 11th and 31st in yards allowed and 28th, 12th, 11th and 31st in points allowed.
Prior to a game against the Broncos last December, Joseph addressed his time in Denver.
"There were never any ill feelings," Joseph said.
Joseph also interviewed for the defensive coordinator spot with the Philadelphia Eagles.
Payton's first Broncos staff is almost complete.
Late Wednesday, Payton, who had suggested the Broncos operation should spend less time on social media, announced on Twitter he had hired 16 coaches "with five to go."
The return of "VJ" is the most interesting of all.
Other coaches joining Broncos staff
According to 9News, Joe Lombardi will be joining the Broncos' offensive staff. Lombardi played at Air Force under Fisher DeBerry and is the grandson of late Packers coach Vince Lombardi. This will be Lombardi's third stint with Payton.
Also according to reports, Michael Wilhoite will be the outside linebackers coach. He was with Payton in New Orleans from 2019-20. Greg Manusky is set to coach the inside linebackers.
Former NFL quarterback Davis Webb is joining Payton's staff as quarterbacks coach, according to ESPN. In his first NFL coaching job, the 28-year-old Webb will be coaching 34-year-old Russell Wilson.
The “VJ” File
Vance Joseph’s defenses show a mixed bag. Here’s where they ranked:
2016 Dolphins (DC): 29th (yards), 18th points (points)
2017 Broncos (HC): 3rd, 22nd
2018 Broncos (HC): 22nd, 13th
2019 Cardinals (DC): 32nd, 28th
2020 Cardinals (DC): 18th, 13th
2021 Cardinals (DC): 11th, 11th
2022 Cardinals (DC): 21st, 31st