Vance Joseph's first order of business: Building Broncos' staff

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- As the Denver Broncos talked about Vance Joseph’s “leadership" and “vision" as the 16th head coach in franchise history, a staff of assistants who have been a part of division championships and Super Bowl trips considered the future.

Former Broncos coach Gary Kubiak, who stepped down the day after the regular season ended, consistently lauded his staff, and some of those assistants do figure to be retained. But Joseph started the process of building his own staff almost as soon as he signed on the dotted line, setting up interviews with former Broncos assistant and Chargers head coach Mike McCoy and former Raiders assistant Bill Musgrave as potential offensive coordinators.

Asked last week whether defensive coordinator Wade Phillips and other Kubiak assistants would stay, Broncos executive vice president of football operations/general manager John Elway said he would make recommendations but that ultimately, Joseph would make the calls.

“Obviously, that’s going to be a lot up to the new head coach," Elway said. “I think when you look at it and you look at what we have and the team that we have, I think it’s a job that a lot of guys would have and [it] would be an excellent coaching staff, but that’s going to be up to the next coach. I’m sure we will retain a lot of them. Hopefully they’ll retain a lot of them. Obviously we would like to keep as much continuity as we can, too."

But even if Kubiak had stayed on the job, some turnover on the offensive staff was expected, including potential moves with the offensive line and tight ends coaches. The Broncos finished 27th in the league in rushing, surrendered 40 sacks and struggled on third down as well as in the scoring zone throughout the season.

Broncos running backs coach Eric Studesville, who was hired by Josh McDaniels and retained by John Fox and then Kubiak, is a candidate to be retained again. Studesville acted as the team’s interim head coach in 2010 after McDaniels was fired.

Wide receivers coach Tyke Tolbert, who could draw some interest from the Tennessee Titans, is also a candidate to be retained, as is quarterbacks coach Greg Knapp.

In his interview with the Broncos, Joseph was asked extensively about how he would help the Broncos develop their two quarterback prospects, Trevor Siemian and Paxton Lynch. Elway said last week the Broncos’ plan was to “move forward" with Siemian and Lynch rather than considering signing a veteran at the position.

Defensively, there could now be more turnover on the staff than might have been expected. Joseph, a defensive coordinator this past season with the Miami Dolphins and a former secondary coach with the Bengals and Texans, may want to call plays on defense.

Phillips’ contract is up, and while he worked with Joseph on Kubiak’s staff with the Texans, he may want to move on if Joseph wants to direct the defense. Broncos secondary coach Joe Woods, a coach recommended to Kubiak by Joseph, would be in line to be the team’s defensive coordinator.

Some of the defensive assistants have been with Phillips for an extended period on multiple teams, but many have one year left on their contracts with the Broncos. If they wanted to move on, they would need the Broncos to release them from their contracts.

If the Broncos fire the assistants because Joseph has other candidates in mind, Denver would pay off the final year of those deals. Defensive line coach Bill Kollar and linebackers coach Reggie Herring are the ones who have been with Phillips on other teams’ staffs.

Joseph is expected to have most of his staff in place before the team goes to the Senior Bowl later this month.

“The coaching staff is really, really important, as well as that head guy," Elway said last week. “The type of personality that head guy is going to have is also going to put that kind of staff together. I think we’ve talked about it so many times or I’ve said it, is the fact is, we draft players and we sign players, but we have to make them better when they get here. That’s why this coaching staff is so important, and that’s why this search is going to be so important. As I said, we’re fortunate that we have a lot of good coaches already here, which is going to help the new coach get off to a good start.’’