To this point, according to multiple team sources, the Bengals have blocked Joseph’s attempt to take the job because he is under contract with the team. The Broncos interviewed Joseph earlier this month for the team’s head-coaching job, two days before team officials met with Kubiak in Houston.
However, the Broncos have continued their efforts with the Bengals to hire Joseph in recent days, and now there is a feeling within the Broncos’ front office that if the Bengals believe they can find a replacement on their defensive staff for Joseph, they would be more inclined to let Joseph take the promotion with the Broncos.
One name that has surfaced in the league for the Bengals is former New York Giants defense coordinator Perry Fewell. Fewell, who was fired by the Giants shortly after the season, interviewed with the San Francisco 49ers this past week to be the defensive backs coach.
The Broncos believe that until Fewell is hired somewhere he will be considered by the Bengals as well, and that if hired by Cincinnati it would free Joseph to run the Broncos’ defense. By league rules the only time an assistant coach under contract cannot be prevented from taking a new job is if the move is from coordinator to head coach.
The Broncos have tried to prepare themselves if they can’t secure Joseph, a former assistant coach on Kubiak’s staff with the Houston Texans from 2011-13, and the team reached out to former Broncos head coach and defensive coordinator Wade Phillips last week.
Phillips took over as Texans interim head coach 13 games into the 2013 season after Kubiak was fired. The Texans were 30th in total defense, 29th in scoring defense and last in the league in pass defense in 2010 when Kubiak looked to Phillips to repair the unit.
The team drafted defensive end J.J. Watt in the first round of the 2011 draft and Phillips pushed the improved unit to No. 2 in total defense and No. 4 in scoring defense in 2011. The Texans were No. 7 in total defense in 2012 and were also No. 7 in total defense in 2013 even as the team finished 2-14.
Phillips was the Broncos' head coach in 1993 and 1994 and was fired after a 7-9 finish in 1994, when Broncos owner Pat Bowlen hired Mike Shanahan. Phillips was 16-16 in his two seasons, with a loss in the wild-card round following the 1993 season.
Phillips had been the Broncos’ defensive coordinator from 1989-1992.
Kubiak has hired Bill Kollar, another former Texans assistant, to be Denver's defensive line coach, and Broncos linebackers coach Richard Smith is expected to be retained in the same job.
With Kubiak having already filled out the team’s offensive staff -- with Rick Dennison as offensive coordinator, as well as Joe DeCamillis as special-teams coordinator -- that leaves the defensive coordinator spot and defensive backs coach as the only two major openings that remain.