ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Football is in the air. With the Broncos officially beginning offseason activities Monday, the path to the 2017 NFL season is underway.
After missing the playoffs for the first time in six years, the Broncos are looking to rebound in a big way and are looking to do so quickly. Between addressing positions of need, such as quarterback or left tackle, and preparing for the upcoming NFL Draft, Vance Joseph has plenty on his plate.
The first-year head coach spoke with the media Monday and laid out some of the goals of the organization this spring, as well as what he is looking for in his players this season.
Right off the bat, Joseph made it clear to his team that “the honeymoon is over” and it is time for his team to get down to business.
“It was a friendly reminder of how much time we have to get ready,” Joseph told the media Monday afternoon. “It’s not much time. For us, it’s 38 days to get ready for the Fall season. There is not much time. There is no time to waste.”
Although the Broncos are likely still months from deciding who will start under center this fall, one of the biggest goals of the offseason was to bring in players that know how to win. On both sides of the ball, the Denver coaching staff wants to find players that that are engaged both physically and mentally.
“You want guys that are tough, fully engaged and love to win,” Joseph said. On the defensive side of the ball, Joseph feels the team has those types of players. Highlighting the secondary specifically, Joseph emphasized that he believes the team has competitive and tough players.
Offensively, the team will continue to look to improve in this area. “On offense, you want guys that hate to lose and every day come into work doing it. That’s important. From that perspective, offensively we’ve got some guys that can fill that role, but I want more,” Joseph said.
More than just wanting to win though, Joseph wants players that have “juice.” Either through free agency or the NFL Draft, Joseph wanted the type of players that play leave it all on the field.
Time will tell if the organization is able to find these types of players in the upcoming NFL Draft, but Joseph believes that the recently signed free agents fit the bill. Especially up front in and in the trenches.
“There is something to be said about (being tougher and meaner upfront) because those teams do win. Big and tough works up front. [NT Domata] Peko is a guy that is obviously big and consistent. He’s a tough guy. I think [DE] Zach Kerr is that way. I thought [G Ron] Leary was the nastiest guard in free agency. [T Menelik] Watson is a big, tough guy also. Absolutely, big and mean works.”
In 11 seasons with the Bengals, Peko missed just five games. All of them in the 2009 season. With over 500 total tackles and 18.5 sacks in his career, Peko has been one of the more consistent defensive tackles in the league.
Kerr is a bit “greener” than Peko. In three seasons with the Colts, Kerr started only eight games and recorded 58 tackles. In limited action though, the young defensive end managed to total 5.5 sacks and one forced fumble.
Leary and Watson are both big physical blockers and will each be in contention to start next season.
All of these players are known for physicality and and aggressive play, so it makes sense Joseph is initially pleased with the free agent signings thus far. As the team continues to add more pieces to the mix, it will be interesting to see if Joseph continues to find these types of players.
One thing is obvious though. Joseph may be inexperienced as a head coach, but he is serious about winning and knows that it is a process that does not occur overnight. “Whatever happens each day, we’re going to fix it and move on to the next day,” Joseph said.