When former Broncos coach John Fox had a health issue in 2013, the team turned to former defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio. This time, with coach Gary Kubiak out for a week when he became ill following Sunday’s game against the Falcons, the job falls to special-teams coordinator Joe DeCamillis, not defensive coordinator Wade Phillips.
“Gary and I talked about the least disruptive situation, and that would be Joe,” Broncos G.M. John Elway told reporters on Monday. “We’ll have [offensive coordinator] Rick Dennison handle the offense, Wade [Phillips] will handle the defense, and Joe will handle the special teams. Joe has worked very closely with Gary in game management situations, as well as [director of analytics] Mitch Tanney, so we thought that was the best and easiest way to handle that situation. Joe has a tremendous amount of experience, too. Obviously the coordinators will also be involved with that, too. Joe we think will do a tremendous job this week.”
It’s a smart move, because on game day the head coach really doesn’t do much. The main duties are the big decisions: Calling time outs, going for it on fourth down, throwing the red challenge flag, and making the final call for fake field goals or punts and onside kicks. Giving the assignment to the special-teams coordinator allows Dennison and Phillips to focus on their units.
“I think that’s the most seamless way to do that,” Elway said. “Like I said, the least disruptive.”
Dennison becomes the lead playcaller, with Kubiak gone. Elway said that it already was a collaborative process.
Several players collaborated in praising the decision on Monday to give the gig to DeCamillis, who suffered a broken back seven years ago when the Cowboys’ indoor practice facility collapsed in a storm.
“I think it’s going to be great,” tight end Virgil Green said. “Joe D. has a lot of energy. It’s infectious, his energy. I think that’s going to rub off on a lot of guys and we’re going to go out there and play hard, regardless.”
“We love Joe D.’s enthusiasm,” cornerback Chris Harris Jr. said. “We think he’ll do a great job, but really it’s on the players. We all know that we have a job and a responsibility that we need to do. We need to continue to handle our business for the season. We know this is a championship game. Any time you play a divisional game, we treat these like a championship. We know this is a huge game for us.”
“He’s going to be even more fired up,” receiver Cody Latimer said. “He’s an exciting coach, somebody that brings energy into meeting rooms and things like that. I think we’ll be excited out there, to go out there and kick butt for him.”
“Being a special teams coach, he works with everybody,” running back C.J. Anderson told reporters. “He talks with offense and defense because everybody plays special teams.”
“We have a lot of respect for Joe D.,” safety T.J. Ward said. “He’s one of our most vocal coaches. He’s not shy about telling guys if they are right or wrong. He’s a very smart guy and everybody loves him around here. It’s going to be a good week for us.”
It won’t be a good week if the Broncos lose to the Chargers, and the Chargers will be a dangerous opponent — unless and until the Chargers find a way to implode with two minutes or less to go.