JANUARY 11 : Vance Joseph is named head coach. Joseph, a former assistant under Gary Kubiak in Houston, becomes the first African-American head coach in Broncos history.
After four weeks of the Vance Joseph era, the Broncos were flying high. They rolled into their bye with a 3-1 record, bolstered by a pair of home wins over the Los Angeles Chargers and Oakland Raiders. The dominant defense looked to be its usual self, and the offense, led by quarterback Trevor Siemian, was efficient and effective when it needed to be.
Then came the bye, after which the Broncos were never the same.
Mistakes multiplied to the point that the Broncos finished 31st in the league in giveaways with 34. Early-game turnovers were particularly damaging, and they were the primary cause of an eight-game losing streak that was the Broncos’ longest in 50 years — a frustrating half-season stretch that saw the Broncos lead for just four minutes and one second.
The Broncos started three different quarterbacks, the most for them in any single season since 2003. To make matters worse, the Broncos cycled through Siemian, Brock Osweiler and Paxton Lynch twice because of injuries and on-field struggles . No matter who was under center, the offense never found a consistent groove. By March of the following year, only the young Lynch remained on the roster.
In the middle of a 10-game stretch in which the offense generated just 11 touchdowns and never accounted for 20 or more points in a single game, offensive coordinator Mike McCoy was dismissed. Quarterbacks coach Bill Musgrave, a Grand Junction native who played two seasons as John Elway’s backup in the 1990s, replaced him, simplified the offense and got better results down the stretch, but it was too little, too late for Denver’s 2017 hopes.
Running back C.J. Anderson played all 16 games for the first time in his career to post his first 1,000-yard rushing season and the first for any Denver running back in four years. Outside linebacker Von Miller and cornerback Aqib Talib returned to the Pro Bowl, and young players like safety Justin Simmons and defensive end Shelby Harris had breakthrough seasons.
But those were the only bright spots in the Broncos’ gloomiest campaign since 2010. Within hours of a season-ending loss to the Chiefs on a last-second field goal, Joseph had made sweeping changes to his coaching staff, looking to “change the culture” in some position groups.