CENTENNIAL, Colo. -- The voice stops people. Even when Vance Joseph talks softly, he fills the room.
When the Broncos embarked on a search for their 16th coach, the landscape dictated a different approach than in previous years. General manager John Elway views this team as a contender. He sought a leader who could relate to the players, and control a headstrong locker room. In Joseph, Elway believes he found the perfect fit for a daunting challenge.
The Broncos are looking to rebound quickly. And the clock is ticking. In an exclusive interview with Denver7 on Thursday following his introductory press conference, Joseph smiled when asked about the pressure cooker he hopped into at Dove Valley.
"This rarely happens. It’s a job that’s ready to win. It’s not a rebuild, it’s a reboot. There are other great jobs. But this one is a proven winner," said Joseph, who accepted the job without interviewing with the Chargers or the 49ers where he has a strong ties. "There's great management here. Great support. It's a winner. That's tough to build in the NFL. You need the right people to do it. If you can acquire that as a first-time head coach, why wouldn't you? It's a no-brainer."
In all of his professional stops, Joseph has earned high marks for his communication skills, operating with transparency gleaned from his time as an Houston assistant under Gary Kubiak. It represents a distinguishing factor between he and Atlanta offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan, who has experienced public rifts with multiple players in Washington and Atlanta.
Joseph, 44, inherits a Broncos team with alpha personalities. Last season, the team revealed fissures as defensive players called out the slumping offense. Cornerback Aqib Talib shouted down left tackle Russell Okung in the locker room after a loss, a window into the unfair burden the defense felt it was absorbing. As a leader of men, a phrase attached to Joseph, it falls on Joseph to manage the locker room and create an environment where players take ownership, a dynamic that existed during the 2015 championship run.
"It starts with being transparent with players. That’s what they want. When you are honest, you kind of invest in their lives and the truth always keeps them on the right path. The investment is key. They are NFL players. We pay them all to do a job. The extra, that comes from the investment," Joseph said. "The winning football teams, there's extra, and that’s from investing in players."
Making the offense better remains critical. Joseph, a former college quarterback at the University of Colorado, wants an aggressive, uptempo attack with varied looks. The Broncos ranked 25th in scoring last season and 29th in three-and-out drives.
"Being on defense 14 seasons, I loved playing offenses that were really conservative, that were right in line with their numbers, were nothing ever changed," Joseph said. "Guys that keep you off balance, now it falls back on the players. A coach can control a game from a schematic call defensively. That makes it easy. You pull the coach out of the equation and put it back on players, that’s when you can score points."
Joseph admitted he wants his offensive coordinator -- Mike McCoy and Bill Musgrave are interviewing for the position on Thursday -- to create a flexible scheme that provides an opportunity for quarterbacks Trevor Siemian and Paxton Lynch to "compete fairly."
"We are going to have to build it around those two kids, and they are so different it’s going to take a coordinator with some vision to build an offense around both of them so they can both compete fairly," Joseph said.
Trevor Siemian posted an 8-6 record as a first-year starter last season. Rookie Paxton Lynch went 1-1 and struggled to grasp Kubiak's offense. Could this mean more shotgun and five-wide sets with less reliance on the fullback and and a blocking tight end?
Joseph plans to rebrand an offense that lacked an identity last year, doing nothing particularly well.
"Having the ability to score points and knowing you can score points brings swagger and confidence. When you have a great defense, sometimes you lean on the defense too often. That, 'Hey, if we get in a bind here, toss to those guys and they are going to get a stop.' I don’t want that. I want the offense to be as responsible as the defense on game day," Joseph said. "Trevor is a guy with great poise, a great technician with great footwork. He makes few errors with the ball. Obviously, Paxton is a big gunslinger, an athletic guy. He’s young. He needs time. But he’s a talent. It’s two different guys, but I think it can work. It’s going to be a healthy competition. Whoever wins, plays, and that’s fair.”
Joseph begins the heavy lifting now. He must assemble his staff. Fans want the Broncos to keep defensive coordinator Wade Phillips. He is a no longer under contract and the Los Angeles Rams are among the teams pursuing him. Other suitors might be able to offer more money and security.
"Wade is a football father of mine. I have learned so much from Wade over the years. If Wade wants to be here, that’s going to be a discussion obviously. He’s had a top-five defense the last two years, and that’s impressive. It’s a good group and they enjoy playing for Wade. No one dislikes Wade, obviously," Joseph said. "Wade is a free agent, so he will have options also. Nothing is guaranteed in this league and things happen for outside of football reasons. We have to work through these issues and see what happens.”
Joseph has a good relationship with Broncos secondary coach Joe Woods. He believes Woods is ready to become a coordinator if Phillips doesn't return. As he sat for Thursday's interview, Joseph was polite, if not impatient. He is ready "to get to work."
Listen to him talk, and it's clear Joseph is his own man. But his confidence also fosters humility, freeing him to use all resources to guarantee the Broncos succeed, most notably Elway.
"He’s a proven winner outside of being a player. It’s a team game. I am about winning. He’s about winning. Whatever helps us win works. So whoever’s idea it may be, it doesn’t matter. It comes down to winning. I am about winning," Joseph said. "So if it’s John’s idea. I am all in if it helps us win. Winning cures everything."
Watch the majority of the conference below, or click here.