Broncos hire Vance Joseph as defensive coordinator over Rex Ryan and Matt Patricia

Joseph was the Broncos head coach from 2017-2018

Vance Joseph previously coached with the Arizona Cardinals. (Photo by Nick Cammett/Getty Images)
Vance Joseph previously coached with the Arizona Cardinals. (Photo by Nick Cammett/Getty Images)

Vance Joseph is back coaching with the Denver Broncos four years after he was fired.

New head coach Sean Payton reportedly hired Joseph as the team's new defensive coordinator, according to NFL Network's Peter Schrager. Joseph previously served as the Arizona Cardinals defensive coordinator from 2019-2022 under Kliff Kingsbury. New Cardinals head coach Jonathan Gannon hired former Philadelphia Eagles linebackers coach Nick Rallis as the team's new defensive coordinator, paving the way for Joseph to leave.

It's a bit of a strange homecoming for Joseph, who was hired to be the Broncos' head coach following the departure of Gary Kubiak after the 2016 season. Joseph lasted just two seasons in Denver, though, and finished with an 11-21 record before he was fired after the 2018 season. It didn't help that his quarterbacks during that stretch were Brock Osweiler, Paxton Lynch and Case Keenum. The Cardinals hired Joseph soon after the Broncos fired him, and he put together a top-13 defense from 2020-2021.

Sean Payton's staff coming together

The Broncos reportedly also interviewed former New England Patriots defensive/offensive coach and Lions head coach Matt Patricia as well as former New York Jets and Buffalo Bills head coach Rex Ryan for the coordinator role but landed on Joseph instead.

Payton hasn't hired an offensive coordinator yet, but he did add Mike Westhoff — who coached with Payton with the New Orleans Saints — as an assistant head coach, as well as receivers coach Keary Colbert, special teams coordinator Ben Kotwica, former Los Angeles Chargers offensive coordinator and Saints quarterback coach Joe Lombardi for a to-be-named role and former Chargers linebackers coach Michael Wilhoite. The team also reportedly kept defensive line coach Marcus Dixon and defensive backs coach Christian Parker, according to NFL Network's James Palmer.

Vance Joseph inherits a top-flight defense

Seemingly the only positive part of the Broncos' 2022 season was the team's defense. Denver allowed the 14th-fewest points per game, the seventh-fewest yards per game this past season and the fewest yards per completion.

The unit was anchored by safety Justin Simmons and Pro Bowl cornerback Patrick Surtain in the secondary and veterans D.J. Jones, Josey Jewell and Dre'Mont Jones in the front seven. The Broncos will also get back a healthy Randy Gregory, who missed 11 games this past season with a knee injury.