Vance Joseph was fired as coach of the Broncos on Monday after two consecutive losing seasons, the team announced.
The Broncos lost to the Los Angeles Chargers, 23-9, on Sunday, finishing 6-10 and their first consecutive losing seasons since 1971 and 1972.
The firing was widely expected after Joseph went 11-21 in his two seasons, including 5-11 last season and finishing last in the AFC West.
It’s the first time since they joined the NFL in 1970 the Broncos have had consecutive double-digit loss seasons.
The last time it happened was when the Broncos were in the AFL when they had five consecutive double-digit loss seasons from 1963 to 1967.
The Broncos won only four of their 16 road games under Joseph and were 7-9 at home.
The Broncos overall are only 20-28 since winning Super Bowl 50 and their third championship in February 2016.
“I spoke with Vance this morning and thanked him for all of his hard work as our head coach,” 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.”
Of those who coached at least 20 games, Joseph has the worst winning percentage (.344) of any coach for the Broncos since the team joined the NFL in 1970. Josh McDaniels had a .393 winning percentage from 2009 to 2010.
“Vance put his heart into coaching this team, and I appreciate the way he represented the Broncos with such professionalism,” team president and CEO Joe Ellis said.
“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.”
The Broncos will begin searching for their fourth coach since Elway became general manager in 2011.
John Fox was hired as McDaniels’ replacement that coincided with the arrival of Peyton Manning. Fox led the Broncos to Super Bowl XLVIII in which they lost to the Seattle Seahawks, 43-8.
He left after the 2014 season that ended with a loss to the Indianapolis Colts in the divisional round.
Gary Kubiak was hired and led the Broncos to the Super Bowl 50 championship in the 2015 season. He stepped down after the 2016 season because of health reasons and was replaced by Joseph.
Joseph started his Broncos career hot, going 4-0 in the preseason in 2017 and 3-1 in the regular season. But then the Broncos lost eight consecutive games, their longest losing streak in 50 years.
Eight of the Broncos’ 11 losses last season were by 10 or more points this season, including their first shutout loss in 25 years.
The Broncos won their first two games this season, then lost to the Baltimore Ravens (27-14), Kansas City Chiefs (27-23), New York Jets (34-16), Los Angeles Rams (23-20).
The team was in playoff contention for the bye week in Week 10.
After winning games against the Los Angeles Chargers and Pittsburgh Steelers, the team dropped games to the San Francisco 49ers, Cleveland Browns, Oakland Raiders and the Chargers.
There was speculation at the end of last season that Joseph would not return for the 2018 season until general manager John Elway decided to give the first-time coach another season.
That ended after another losing season and several embarrassing losses, including to the Jets and Rams in which the Broncos became the first team in NFL history to give up consecutive 200-yard rushers.
Isaiah Crowell of the Jets had 219 rushing yards on Oct. 7 and Todd Gurley of the Rams had a career-high 208 yards on Oct. 14.
On top of that, there were nearly 10,000 no-shows for the home game against the Rams and more than 12,000 for the season finale Sunday against the Chargers.