-- ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- Just three days ago Denver Broncos coach Vance Joseph said the team's secondary coach Joe Woods was ready to be a defensive coordinator.
And Joseph has backed up his words as Woods has been promoted to defensive coordinator and will replace Wade Phillips to guide a group that has finished No. 1 and No. 4 in total defense in the last two seasons respectively.
Several members of the Broncos' front-office and coaching staff confirmed the move to ESPN on Sunday. Joseph has steadily filled out some of the more high-profile positions on his staff with Mike McCoy as offensive coordinator, Bill Musgrave as quarterbacks coach and Jeff Davidson, who was on McCoy's staff with the San Diego Chargers, will the Broncos' offensive line coach with John Benton, who was on the Dolphins' staff with Joseph last season, the Broncos' assistant offensive line coach.
Also wide receivers coach Tyke Tolbert and running backs coach Eric Studesville have been retained by Joseph. Studesville was originally hired by Josh McDaniels and has now been retained by John Fox, Gary Kubiak and Joseph.
The Denver Post first reported the moves.
The 46-year-old Woods has been an NFL assistant since 2004 and was recommended to Kubiak by Joseph when Kubiak was putting his Broncos coaching staff together in 2015. Woods has managed one of the most vocal and Type A position groups on the team and this past week safety T.J. Ward said "Joe has done a great job in our room" and offered as a potential defensive coordinator "Joe would do a great job of that too."
Joseph, too, set the table for Woods' promotion last Thursday, when Joseph was formally introduced as the team's newest head coach. Woods, a bright coaching prospect who some in the league have said could be a head coach someday, was believed to be in line to be the Broncos' coordinator if Phillips did not return.
"Joe's a bright coach and he's obviously ready to be a coordinator in this league," Joseph said last week. " ... Joe is a guy who can obviously defend the NFL pass game ... I love Joe, I've been friend with Joe for a long time, he's a great ball coach."
Phillips was a wildly popular presence among the Broncos' faithful and his departure to the Los Angeles Rams was chronicled as if he were a head coach. Phillips' defense powered the Broncos' Super Bowl run in 2015.
Joseph had initially left the door open for Phillips' possible return -- Joseph was with Phillips on Kubiak's staff with the Houston Texans -- having called Phillips "one of my football dads" and said that he and Phillip routinely spoke "three or four times a week."
But Phillips joined Sean McVay's staff shortly after Joseph's introduction. Joseph also said last week he did not want to call plays on defense.
Woods now runs the part of the team that's on Broncos executive vice president of football operations/general manager John Elway's mind. Elway has said the team's "No. 1 priority" this offseason was to "stay great" on defense.
And despite almost season-long struggles to defend the run this past season, the Broncos defense finished No. 4 overall, No. 4 in scoring defense, No. 1 against the pass, No. 3 in sacks and includes three first-team All Pro players in cornerbacks Chris Harris Jr. and Aqib Talib as well as linebacker Von Miller.
"That's the spear-head, that back end, because they're engaged, they're physical and they love to play no matter where, when or what we're playing for," Joseph said. " ... When you can play man-for-man up close and middle ... if you have rushers and you have cover guys you can play great defense, because scheme don't matter."
Broncos linebackers coach Reggie Herring also interviewed with Joseph to be the Broncos' coordinator. Herring and defensive line coach Bill Kollar have been on Phillips' staff with multiple teams.
Several of the Broncos' assistants on defense have a year left on their contracts so would have to be allowed to leave if they wanted to join Phillips' staff in Los Angeles and Phillips had spots for them.
For his part Joseph said Thursday he would like to have his coaching staff filled out within the next "week, week and a half."