When the Bengals hired Vance Joseph to be the team's co-defensive backs coach in 2014, few would have thought the now 42-year-old would play such a big role in improving the team's secondary.
In just one year, Joseph helped George Iloka go from an above-average starter to playing at a Pro Bowl level in 2014. He also helped Dre Kirkpatrick go from seldom-used backup to breakout performer late last season and into training camp this year. Yesterday on our Inside the Jungle podcast, Dan Hoard joined the show and said Dre Kirkpatrick has been among the top 3 most impressive players in training camp. We can credit Joseph for helping him get that kind of recognition.
Vance Joseph's Impact on Bengals
"He's a great teacher, very patient, always puts us in the best position setting us up for success," Dre Kirkpatrick said of his relationship with Bengals defensive backs coach, Vance Joseph.
Earlier this offseason, Kirkpatrick told Cincy Jungle, "[Joseph] pretty much helped me understand how to break down film so much better and more efficiently. It helps in such a big way to learn better off the field studying which makes the game easier on the field."
Joseph's impact also helped the Bengals rank No. 6 in yards allowed per pass (6.6) and No. 3 in passing touchdowns allowed (18) in 2014, an amazing feat when you realize how little support Joseph's defensive backs got from the front seven (who finished dead last in the NFL in sacks). That helped generate significant interest in Joseph as a defensive coordinator from several teams this past offseason.
The Bengals obviously knew they had a special talent on their hands, so instead of letting him interview for those jobs, owner Mike Brown blocked those teams from being able to talk with Joseph. While this cost Joseph a chance to advance his career, he still feels very fortunate to be with the Bengals, as he told the Cincinnati Enquirer.
"I'm blessed to have a great job, great organization, great owner, great family, great room to coach," Joseph said. "For me, it's a blessing either way. You work your entire life in coaching to have advancement, and I want to be a coordinator, obviously, so that part, obviously, stung a little bit, but the business side and having a contract, that's the business side. It's like being a player. A player can't just leave under contract. That's the way I looked at it. It wasn't a personal issue at all. I have a great job, great room."
Veteran cornerback Adam Jones expressed his feelings toward Joseph and how he's helped the veteran improve his craft into his 30s. As Jones told ESPN, Joseph makes the game easier for his corners by knowing the game so well and being able to see what's coming from opposing receivers and how to get his corners to defend them.
“I’ve had a lot of cornerbacks coaches, but it’s the little things he teaches,” Jones said. "In one call, he already eliminated four routes for me. Nobody else broke it down like that for me. If I'm in this call [for instance], well, I ain't worried about the slant. I'm worried about the go and the comeback. With knowing that, why not go outside leverage."
The likelihood of Joseph getting a promotion next year will continue to increase if the Bengals' defensive backs keep playing at a high level. Unless the Bengals find a way to promote him internally, expect Joseph to be either someone's defensive coordinator or even a head coach in 2016.