His pitch came with a promise.
When C.J. Anderson began cleaning out his locker early Monday morning, the Broncos running back was still awaiting word as to whether his coach, Vance Joseph, would be coming back for a second season. Anderson, hopeful Joseph wouldn’t be fired, didn’t have any inside information, but he did have a prediction.
“I can promise you sitting here — you can put it on record — if he does get a second chance we will not be 5-11,” Anderson said. “We won’t have a losing season.”
Joseph will have the chance to prove Anderson correct. General manager John Elway later confirmed Joseph will be back in 2018 despite a 5-11 record in his first season that included an eight-game losing streak, the franchise’s longest since 1967.
If their words before the news came down were any indication, the players in Denver’s locker room are glad to have their coach back for a second season. In the days before the Broncos closed the season with Sunday’s 27-24 loss to the Chiefs, players pointed fingers at themselves for not doing more in a forgettable season. It wasn’t fair to lay all of the blame, many of them claimed, at the feet of their first-year head coach.
“I think he gives us his all,” inside linebacker Todd Davis said. “He gives us his heart and soul. I can stand behind any man who does that. I trust him. A lot of things didn’t go our way this year, but I wouldn’t put it on him.”
Davis insisted Monday that the Broncos didn’t show quit while in the throes of a season-defining losing streak, and he gave credit for some of that to Joseph. Quarterback Trevor Siemian shared a similar opinion.
“I think he has the locker room,” Siemian said. “He has all the respect of the guys. I think at times like this, it’s easy to point fingers. The one thing I’ll say is nobody in here has done that. That’s a credit to Coach Joseph and how he steered this thing.”
It’s unclear how much the clear support of the players in Denver’s locker room factored into the decision to keep Joseph. But those who wanted their coach to stay got their wish. Now they wait for the rest of the pieces of the 2018 offseason puzzle to come together.
“We’re real close,” safety Will Parks said. “There are probably just a few key pieces that we have to fix. I know (the front office is) going to do an outstanding job this offseason as far as collecting the right pieces and even letting a couple pieces go. That’s just the business part of it. You just never know what you’re going to get. You just have to be ready for it.”