Cardinals DC Vance Joseph ‘not over-ambitious’ to land head-coaching job
Vance Joseph rose up the coaching ranks in relatively quick fashion.
He spent a single season as a defensive coordinator with the Miami Dolphins after coaching defensive backs at various levels for more than a decade. His 2016 run with Miami earned him a head-coaching role with the Denver Broncos in 2017.
Joseph went 11-21 in two years with Denver before he was fired and landed with Arizona to take weight off Kliff Kingsbury during the head coach’s leap from college to the NFL.
As Joseph’s second year as the Cardinals defensive coordinator comes closer to a close — whether that’s after 16 games or a postseason berth — it’s a question of how much he’s boosted his stock by helping rebuild Arizona’s defense.
Joseph was asked Wednesday if he would pursue another head-coaching job.
“I do want to be a head coach again, but I’m not over-ambitious about it,” he said. “I’ve done it before. I think for your second time around, you’re really cautious about which job you want to take. There’s only 32, they’re all good jobs, but some are not great fits.”
Joseph may not be on a top-five list of the hottest names, but his stint in Arizona has shown why he’s well-regarded within the league.
He develops bonds and keeps up with his former players, some of whom have joined the Cardinals because of an existing relationship. He’s navigated the team through a summer in which social justice reform and the anti-racism fight was a big part of virtual team meetings. On the field, Joseph cracked the egg of Haason Reddick’s potential and found roles for young backup players like Dennis Gardeck and Isaiah Simmons.
Credit for the Cardinals’ defensive turnaround from Joseph’s first year to his second also goes to general manager Steve Keim. Arizona signed and drafted aggressively on the defensive side to fill in holes around a core of Chandler Jones, Patrick Peterson, Budda Baker, Jordan Hicks and Corey Peters.
Joseph, though, has helped develop young talent as the Cardinals lost Jones, Peters and Phillips to injury at various points this season. Arizona has been leaning on more than a half-dozen players still on their rookie deals on the defensive side of the ball this year.
With two regular season games left in 2020, here’s where the Cardinals rank in several general metrics compared to last season.
— Defensive Defense-adjusted value over average – DVOA — Ninth in the NFL (20th in 2019)
— 350 yards allowed per game — 12th in the NFL (402 – 32nd in 2019)
— 23.5 points allowed per game — 13th in the NFL (27.6 – 28th in 2019)
— 91.8 passer rating allowed — 12th in the NFL (109.9 – 32nd)
— 4.4 yards allowed per rush — T-16th in the NFL (4.4 – 20th in 2019)
Those are relatively impressive improvements year-over-year.
As the coaching carousel ramps up toward the end of the season, it will be interesting to see if Joseph receives any interest, especially if the league decides to shift toward countering the offensive-minded head coaches hired over the past few years.
Maybe he’s forgiven for not having a franchise quarterback in his Denver days. He’s still young at 48 years old and progressive in thought — Joseph spoke Wednesday about how stopping the pass is now more important than stopping the run.
“Having a great job here, having a great head coach to work with, a great owner, a great GM, I’m in no hurry to move on,” Joseph said. “If a job comes up and it’s a good fit for me, I would love to have another job, but I’m not overly ambitious about it.
“My focus is primarily on the Niners and finishing well here and growing this team. This has been fun to watch us go from last year to this year. I’m excited about where we are, and I love living in Arizona.”