"I want him to be a dominant player all the time," Joseph said earlier this week, via the team's official website. "I don't want him to ease into games. I want him to step out and be a guy.
"It's time -- because he's a great player. He can take over a game. But every game we play, I want his mindset to be to walk on the field and take over the game."
Thomas earned 90 receptions for 1,083 yards and five touchdowns in 2016. The 6-foot-3 receiver ranked 11th in the NFL with 144 targets last season, with a catch rate of 62.5 percent, better than all but three players ahead of him on the list. Thomas, however, earned a career-low 12.0 yards per reception -- 33rd in the NFL last season among players with at least 100 targets.
Trevor Siemian taking over for Peyton Manning certainly played a part in Thomas' frustrating season, but Joseph said it's on the receiver to win his battles more often.
"I want him to win every one-on-one," Joseph said.
Thomas had his breakout 2012 season at the end of Mike McCoy's last stint as offensive coordinator in Denver. McCoy is back in Denver as the OC, and Joseph said McCoy will move Thomas around the formation.
"He's a great runner of the football with wide-receiver screens -- and that's been his trademark for years, to catch the screen and go 60 and 70 yards," Joseph said. "Having more variety in the offense is going to help him."
The entire Broncos offense -- especially the offensive line -- was a disappointment last season. Joseph's challenge of Thomas right out of the gate, however, shouldn't be discounted. The new coach knows he needs more out of big-money players to carry the offense back to the playoffs.