The Denver Broncos welcomed their 17th full-time coach in franchise history yesterday just in time to watch the NFL championship games this weekend. A few former Broncos remain in the chase for a Lombardi trophy, which means there’s plenty to root for. As is too often the case these days, there’s also clearly someone to root against.
Connections to the Broncos
- Brandon Allen is Joe Burrow’s backup. He played three games for the Broncos between Joe Flacco’s injury and Drew Lock coming off of Injured Reserve in 2019, completing 46.4% of his passes for 515 yards, three touchdowns, and two picks.
Can Taylor and Burrow outscore Reid and Mahomes?
Cincinnati's head coach tasked Brandon Allen with a kneel down on first and goal from the one yard line to kill 41 seconds in week 17, which made Evan McPherson’s kick the last play in the game. The Bengals won 34-31. More than anything else, Taylor’s decision to deny Mahomes a chance to answer Joe Burrow is the lesson from that contest. He truly understands what he’s up against.
13 seconds later, Patrick Mahomes became an NFL legend because the Buffalo Bills’ Sean McDermott didn’t learn from Zac Taylor’s victory during the regular season: Andy Reid and Mahomes will find a way to move the ball. Without cornerback Tre’Davious White, who was on Injured Reserve, Buffalo played more zone in their rematch with the Chiefs. Clinging to a 36-33 lead, McDermott and defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier elected to have the corners play soft. It cost them the lead, and bum luck on a coin flip cost them their season.
To say the Bengals’ defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo has his work cut out for him is putting it gently.
Connections to the Broncos
- Kyle Shanahan is always going to be connected to the Broncos because of his dad Mike. The 49ers’ head coach also interviewed to become the Broncos’ head coach after the 2017 season.
- Bobby Turner is the 49ers’ running back coach after he held the same position with the Broncos from 1995 through 2009, a stretch when the Broncos had seven different thousand-yard rushers.
- Wes Welker caught 73 Peyton Manning passes for 778 yards and 10 touchdowns as part of the best offense in Broncos history. He now coaches the 49ers’ wide receivers.
- River Cracraft is a 49ers receiver who spent two years in Denver and hauled in a 44-yard pass from Case Keenum against the Los Angeles Chargers. He has six catches for 41 yards since.
- Rich Scangarello is in his second stint as the 49ers’ quarterback coach after a year as the Broncos’ offensive coordinator and a season with the Philadelphia Eagles.
- Warren Jackson spent his first training camp out of Colorado State with the Broncos and landed on the Rams’ practice squad after he was released.
- Von Miller will go down as one of the best players in Broncos history. The MVP of Super Bowl 50 has the most sacks in franchise history. Traded to the Los Angeles Rams after Week 9, he finished the regular season with the fourth most pressures of any Denver defender despite playing in only seven games.
While George Paton welcomes Nathaniel Hackett as the 17th full time head coach in Broncos history, the future Hall of Famer he traded to Los Angeles is chasing a second Super Bowl ring. The Rams’ four lost fumbles almost wasted one of the best playoff games of Von Miller’s career, but Matthew Stafford hit Cooper Kupp for a 44-yard gain with five seconds left to secure the 30-27 win. The victory gives Sean McVay a chance to end his six-game losing streak to Kyle Shanahan, and Miller a chance at a second Super Bowl ring.
To make it out of the NFC Championship game, the Rams will need to find a way to make the 49ers offense one dimensional. Easier said than done. Shanahan is one of the best play callers in the league, and he’s a magician dialing up favorable looks for Jimmy Garoppolo. San Francisco’s run game is complex and efficient, mixing power with outside zone with duo with split zone to bludgeon opposing fronts over the course of a game.
One key development that looks as though it will tilt the matchup in the Rams’ favor is the health of Trent Williams, who is the best left tackle in the league. The 33-year-old Williams hurt his ankle in the third quarter of the divisional round and played through pain the rest of the way. All reports suggest he’ll line up for the first NFC title game of his career, and he’s sure to see plenty of snaps against a certain former Bronco.
Your Broncos’ News
Nathaniel Hackett plans to bring energy, analytics and victories to Broncos football - Mile High Report
“I’m excited to meet every person here ... just get to know every one of you guys because that’s what his is about,” he said at the close of his opening statement. “It’s about people. It’s about communication. It’s about talking with one another. It’s about all of us coming together and making something special here and really making Broncos Country proud because that’s what it’s all about. We’ve got to win some games.”
“Absolutely not,” Paton said.
Tampering rules limit anything Paton could say about interest in Rodgers and he probably wouldn’t be revealing anything of that nature if he did have thoughts about pursuing the reigning league MVP this offseason.
Friday didn’t bring much in the way of specifics about plans at the quarterback position. Hackett said it was something that they’d begin to “work through” now that he’s officially in the job. Drew Lock is the only Broncos quarterback under contract for next season.
The Rams Ejiro Evero is considered the frontrunner for defensive coordinator. The Packers Adam Stenavich will interview to be offensive coordinator.
How much change looms over the Broncos’ offense?
Could Rodgers become the new Peyton Manning?
But the conversation went immediately to speculation over whether Aaron Rodgers might also be coming to town.
“Nathaniel Hackett is 42 years old, Aaron Rodgers is 38. They’re not that far apart. It’s more of a—I don’t want to say a Friend 1 and Friend 2—but it doesn’t really seem like a coach and player.”
The 2021 NFL Playoffs will continue on Sunday, Jan. 30. Here is a preview of each game this weekend, along with score predictions and betting odds.
Two months ago, San Francisco’s defense was struggling to find its footing. Now, it’s the strength of a team that’s one win away from a Super Bowl berth. How did the Ryans-Warner partnership turn things around?
While there are still steps in the process, it sounds as if Kansas City is expecting Mathieu to be able to play in Sunday’s AFC Championship game against the Bengals.
“I wouldn’t say that I have some drop dead date,” Loomis said. “Obviously, you want to move the process around as quickly as possible and yet it’s more important to get it right than it is to do it quick. We’re going to be diligent about that.”
According to multiple reporters, Steelers owner Art Rooney II confirmed that Colbert will step down in the spring — though there is mutual interest from Colbert and the team for him to remain with the organization in a reduced capacity. Rooney also mentioned that Pittsburgh has already interviewed its vice president of football and business administration Omar Khan along with pro scouting coordinator Brandon Hunt to be the team’s next G.M. But the club will also interview external candidates for the role. However, Rooney noted that the organization will not be changing its structure so any external hire would have to fit into that.
The Texans are serious about hiring the completely inexperienced Josh McCown as their head coach. McCown is getting his second interview with the Texans today, according to NFL Network.
The Giants made their hiring of Brian Daboll official, announcing the former Bills offensive coordinator as the 20th head coach in franchise history.
That presents a huge opportunity for clubs that appear in need of a new face at the position — the Steelers, Broncos, Panthers, Washington Football Team and Saints probably chief among them — to evaluate what will be a strong overall representation of this draft’s QB class.