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Denver Broncos fire head coach Vance Joseph

The Denver Broncos finished off their first consecutive losing seasons since 1971-72. The failures finished off Vance Joseph's coaching tenure.

The Broncos announced Monday they fired Joseph on Monday. NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport first reported the move.

"I want to thank John Elway, Joe Ellis and the organization for the opportunity to serve as the head coach of the Denver Broncos," Joseph said in a statement. "It's disappointing not being able to finish what we started, but I'm incredibly proud of the players and coaches for how they fought and worked every week. I also appreciate the support staffs who put in countless hours behind the scenes helping our team. This is a special place with great fans. Holly and I, along with our entire family, truly enjoyed being part of this community and wish the Broncos all the best."

Denver went 11-21 in Joseph's two seasons at the helm. The Broncos owned a .738 winning percentage in the five seasons prior to his tenure, second-best in the NFL during that span.

"I spoke with Vance this morning and thanked him for all of his hard work as our head coach," Broncos president of football operations and general manager John Elway said in a statement. "Although we decided to make this change, I believe Vance is a good football coach who has a bright future in this league.

"Vance made a lot of strides and deserves credit for how hard and competitively the team played this season. There's always going to be a high standard here -- the bottom line is we need to win more football games. We're excited about the foundation that's being built and look forward to putting in the work to get the Broncos back on the winning track."

Struggles to find a game-changing quarterback in the aftermath of Peyton Manning's retirement helped sink Joseph. Over the past two years, with Trevor Siemian and Case Keenum as the main QBs, Denver ranked 26th in points per game, 19th in passing yards per game, 25th in third-down percentage and 31st in red zone percentage.

While the offense struggled, it's not as if Joseph's defense overwhelmed opponents, despite talent at each level. In two years, the Broncos allowed 22.8 points per game (15th in the NFL), and 104.5 rushing yards (11th), and 58.3 red zone conversion rate (19th). Led by Von Miller and Chris Harris Jr., the Broncos D had their moments, but not enough to carry Denver to the postseason.

Joseph's offense was dismal. His defense somewhat blah. What likely sealed Joseph's fate, however, was consistent coaching errors. Too often Joseph botched late-game situational football, made head-scratching decisions, flubbed timeout usage, are didn't put players in the best situation to succeed.

A microcosm of Joseph's situational errors came in a Week 15 home loss to the Cleveland Browns. The Broncos trailed 17-13 with 5:29 left in the game. On 4th-and-1 from the 6-yard-line, Joseph opted for a field goal to pull within one point. Denver never got closer and lost, 17-16.

"Vance put his heart into coaching this team, and I appreciate the way he represented the Broncos with such professionalism," Broncos president and CEO Joe Ellis said in a statement. "On behalf of our organization, I thank Vance, his wife Holly and their family for everything they did for our team and community.

"While we've made progress, we still have a lot more work to do and need to get better in all areas. In talking with John, I believe we're headed in the right direction and am confident in him leading our coaching search. John has my full support in making whatever changes are necessary to improve our team."

Under Joseph's tenure, the Broncos got out to fast starts -- 3-1 in 2017 and 2-0 in 2018. However, his teams cratered down the stretch each time -- 2-10 in 2017, 4-10 in 2018.

The 46-year-old coach seemed poised to save his job with a three-game winning streak that included wins over the Chargers and Steelers. At 6-6 with four tilts to play, three games against non-playoff teams, the Broncos had a chance to battle for a playoff spot. Instead, Joseph's team collapsed by losing four straight to close the season at 6-10.

Despite failures as a head coach, Joseph is well-respected around the NFL and should find a landing spot as a defensive coordinator.

Elway now will search for his next head coach. Elway's inability to find a quarterback helped sink Joseph. Finding a coach and QB combo that can work together is atop the offseason priority list for the GM whose Hall of Fame shine is beginning to finally wane in Denver.

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