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ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — The last time the Lombardi Trophy was handed out, the Denver Broncos organization was on the receiving end. In the past two seasons, the Broncos have compiled the second most wins in the NFL, only trailing the New England Patriots.
General manager John Elway and team president Joe Ellis consistently tout the winning culture in Denver, and in the six seasons that Elway has been apart of the organization they have proved it. Even with a head coaching change, and missing the playoffs for the first time in Elway’s tenure with Denver, the expectations have not changed.
“I said this is a football team—we didn’t make the playoffs this year, but we were world champions last year. It’s a team that knows how to win,” Elway said at head coach Vance Joseph’s introductory press conference. “I think in my discussions with Vance, he understood how to fit what he does with these players that we do have, and hopefully enhance that. I think he’s got the qualities to enhance that.”
Along with understanding how to fit in what he does well with the players on the team, it was clear that Joseph also understands the high expectations that come with being the head coach of a three-time Super Bowl-winning organization.
“It’s a winning culture here. They want to win every game. The fans expect it. I’m OK with that,” Joseph said. “I want to win every game. Every team wants to win every game but are not capable of it. This team is capable.”
Typically, those teams that aren’t capable of winning every game are the same teams that have head coaching vacancies. This offseason, no other team with a head coach opening had a winning record like the Broncos, and Joseph considers himself lucky because of that.
“For a first-time head coach to have a chance to be with a team like the Denver Broncos—that’s a winning team, that’s not broken—that’s rare,” he said. “Your first opportunity is usually an opportunity of a rebuild. It’s very similar to when Mike Tomlin took over in Pittsburgh, and they were a year out of winning the big game (Super Bowl XL), and Mike took over with two experienced coordinators and they didn’t miss a beat.”
Much like 2007 when Tomlin was hired in Pittsburgh, the Broncos are coming off of a season where they finished third in their division and missed the playoffs after winning the Super Bowl the year before.
The first year with Tomlin as their head coach, the team bounced back and lost in the wild-card round of the playoffs. In his second year, however, they won the entire thing. Joseph hopes, and believes, that the Broncos can find similar success to what Tomlin experienced.
“This job won’t be a rebuild, again most jobs you take as a first-time head coach, or most jobs that are open, are a rebuild. This job is not broken; it’s a reboot,” he said. “It’s my job to find the small tweaks to make this team a winning team again. That’s my call of duty right now and hopefully we can do that quickly. But it’s not a rebuild, it’s a reboot, and I’m excited to be here. It’s a culture of winning. It’s exciting.”
A key to that quick bounce back will be the sweeping staff changes that have taken place as well as the man in charge of it all—Elway.
“To have a chance to be here with John—John’s a winner,” Joseph said. “His whole life he’s been a winner, so I’m excited to work with John and continue to win here.”
Even though there will be a new head coach and all new coordinators in Denver for the 2017 season, Joseph, and the Broncos, don’t expect the championship-level goals to be any different moving forward. In fact, they may have risen.