It’s been nearly three years since Patriots coach Bill Belichick created a new avenue for football coaches by using the phrase, “On to Cincinnati.” On Monday, Broncos coach Vance Joseph borrowed it when he was asked about former Broncos safety T.J. Ward.
“My thoughts are that T.J. was a great player for this franchise,” Joseph told reporters. “We won a lot of games with this guy. So we’re going to miss having T.J. He’s a good person, a good man, but we’re on to the Chargers. That’s behind us. We wish him well.”
Cornerback Aqib Talib had a bit more to say, but he was pragmatic about the situation.
There was kind of a buzz, so I’m not going to say it was surprising,” Talib told reporters. “The buzz started a couple of days before. So we had an idea it was going to happen. We talked about it. Him and I talked about it. We just hoped he made more money there then what he was going to make here this year. He did that, so I’m happy for him.”
But he didn’t do that. He could do that, but the base package is less than the $4.5 million the Broncos owed Ward.
For the Broncos, the question is whether they’ll at least be the same without him. Specifically, will the “No Fly Zone” still exist?
“Ain’t nobody flying,” Talib said. “They still can’t fly. The name doesn’t change. [Ward] knows we love him. We’re going to miss him. It’s part of our jobs. That’s what makes us professionals. You could put us anywhere. We can adapt. We can adjust. We all did it. I got traded before. I found out I was getting traded in a hypobaric chamber. The next day I was in New England. That’s what makes us professionals.”
Talib regards Ward’s replacement, Justin Simmons, as a professional.
“You see it,” Talib said. “You see his production in OTAs. You see his production last year. He’s a smart kid. It’s not like we have to worry about him knowing his assignments or knowing what the other team is doing. He is professional. He is mature. He’s married. He’s going to go home and study like a vet. This should be an easy transition for him.”
If it’s an easy transition for him, it’ll be an easy transition for a championship-caliber defense that somehow missed the playoffs a year ago.