The Broncos finally made the move they needed to make weeks ago. They fired now-former Head Coach Nathaniel Hackett today which ended his tenure with the team which was full of disappointments. He doesn’t even make it through a full season, lasts just 15 games with the team, and appears to have lost control of his roster during the Christmas Day massacre we witnessed just yesterday.
Now, the Broncos will enter the head coaching search once again a year later. However, this time instead of being led by mostly GM George Paton and Joe Ellis, the coaching search will move forward with new Owner and CEO Greg Penner leading the search with his group of people. So, we shall see what they decide to do here moving forward.
With all that said, I am going to throw out some potential candidates we could see the Broncos interview in the coming days and weeks ahead. No names have really leaked out so I am just giving you some potential candidates to watch.
The realistic candidates
It seems like the Broncos will seek out a candidate with experience, but this search hasn’t even started out yet so we are not sure what they want just yet. However, it is currently a safe bet they will seek out a candidate with head coaching experience.
Dallas Defensive Coordinator, Dan Quinn: Last year, before the Broncos settled on Hackett, Dallas defensive coordinator Dan Quinn seemed like the favorite for the head coaching gig. However, he decided to pull his name from gigs and return to Dallas and chase a ring with them (which he could get this year). Now, with Hackett out, will Quinn return to being the Broncos' top option?
With Owner and CEO Greg Penner and his group of people leading this Head Coaching search, the candidates Paton preferred or had ties with, may not make as much sense. Quinn will likely be among the top candidates available, so he should not be ignored, but he may not be as likely as he was a year ago.
Quinn would bring a veteran coach with Head Coaching experience which includes a Super Bowl appearance. He could help with the culture of the Broncos and bring some stability back to that locker room. No more hugging it out, resting players in camp and the preseason, and the “new-age approach” failed
Former Indianapolis Colts Head Coach, Frank Reich: The Colts made the surprise move to fire Frank Reich and replace him with Jeff Saturday of all people. He has had his issues in Indy, but he has had the Colts playing well with an aging Phillip Rivers and Carson Wentz in the past. He is known for what he did in Philadelphia with Nick Foles during their Super Bowl run and would bring some stability and experience to the Broncos' offense.
He has ties to Peyton Manning who is an advisor to the new ownership group which should also help his case. He is not the sexiest option but his Colts teams were competitive. He could also keep Ejiro Evero as defensive coordinator while he focuses on assembling an offensive staff to fix the Broncos' offense.
I think Reich will be the most logical candidate for the Broncos this off-season. He seems safer, has the experience, ties with Manning, and would hopefully help fix the Broncos' broken offense.
The first-time Head Coach options
While I think an experienced candidate will likely be the choice, I do not think they should ignore these would-be first-time head coaching candidates. Just hire the best candidate.
San Francisco 49ers defensive coordinator, DeMeco Ryans: He will likely be one of the hottest first-time head coaches available this offseason. The former NFL linebacker has the 49ers defense playing like the best defense in the league and a big reason why that team looks like a Super Bowl contender,
What his defense does on the field is enough to make him an intriguing candidate but being part of the Kyle Shanahan coaching tree is also a plus for him. Teams who have hired from his coaching tree have been fairly happy with the results.
With all that said, I think if the Broncos are going to hire an up and coming defensive minded Head Coach, why wouldn’t they just hire the one they currently have in the building?
Philadelphia Eagles offensive coordinator, Shane Steichen: The Eagles play caller is among the hottest offensive minds in the game and the mastermind behind the Eagles offense. What he has done for quarterback Jalen Hurts who has went from a “run first quarterback” to an MVP frontrunner cannot be ignored. His offense is a high-scoring unit that still played well with backup quarterback Gardner Minshew under center as well.
The more I read about this guy, the more I want him to be the Broncos next Head Coach.
I understand why many want an experienced Head Coach, but bright offensive minds like this cannot be ignored. He would add life to this Broncos offense, hopefully be able to fix Russell Wilson, or build an offense around whoever replaces him under center.
He is among the coaches rumored to be on the Broncos initial coaching list so we shall see if an interview happens sometime in the coming weeks. The Broncos are looking to fix their offense and he seems like the guy who could do just that.
Philadelphia Eagles defensive coordinator, Jonathan Gannon: The Broncos interviewed Gannon last year and he was a finalist for the Texans job last year as well. He did not get hired last year, and the Eagles are happy about that. He’s the architect behind the Eagles defense that ranks near the top in most defensive metrics and has a defense that can get after the passer consistently.
Now, the Broncos did decide to not pick him last year and he was not even among their finalist, but he is expected to make his interview rounds once this again this offseason. So, will the Broncos show some interest once again this season?
Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator, Eric Bieniemy: Bieniemy has been a top candidate the previous few years, but has yet to be hired. He interviewed last year for the Broncos job, but ultimately was not among the finalists for the job and was not hired at all.
He mentioned in the initial short list of candidates, but the fact he has gone through multiple hiring cycles and not has been hired is a red flag for me. Also, he is not a play caller and has some past off the field issues that will make it tough for him to be hired in Denver. We will see if this is the year he gets hired for a head coaching job, or if he will remain in Kansas City.
Detroit Lions offensive coordinator, Ben Johnson: Probably the most surprising candidate on this list, but he is worthy. Johnson has turned the laughable Lions into one of the more explosive offenses in the NFL. Goff looks like he did with the Rams, and the up-start Lions are playoff contenders
His inexperience is concerning and he might be a year or so away from getting a job, but I would expect him to have a few interviews this hiring cycle. Wouldn’t be surprised if the Broncos were one of them.
Denver Broncos defensive coordinator, Ejiro Evero: It sounds like the Broncos current defensive play caller is going to be a hot candidate around the league, so why shouldn’t the Broncos be interested?
He has had the Broncos defense playing at a high-level this season despite multiple injuries and would earn the respect of the locker room. However, his lack of experience could keep the Broncos from making the move and hoping he can simply return as their defensive coordinator. Also, his offensive coordinator choice would be key when it comes to his chances of landing the Broncos job.
New York Giants offensive coordinator, Mike Kafka: The former NFL quarterback who learned his craft under Andy Reid joined Brian Daboll with the New York Giants this past offseason. Daboll handed over the play-calling duties to him and the results have been pretty good all things considered.
Daniel Jones is their quarterback, Saquon Barkley is their lone star playmaker, their receivers are mish mash group, and he has a rookie tight end. Yet, this team is in the midst of the NFC playoffs and he has been getting results from this entire group. While he may not be the sexiest candidate, but he might be the coach on here who has gotten the most out of less this past season. I would not be surprised to see him get an interview or two this hiring cycle.
Buffalo Bills offensive coordinator, Ken Dorsey: Dorsey replaced Daboll in Buffalo as the play-caller behind the high octane Buffalo Bills offense. That team has not missed a beat under his play-calling, and despite one rather big outburst in the coaching box, it has been a solid showing for the first-time play-caller.
Usually coordinators from the top teams in the NFL get interviews during the hiring cycle and the success of Brian Daboll could help him get some this cycle. I would not be surprised to see Dorsey get a shot at the Broncos job this offseason.
The unlikely but exciting options
These options are the popular ones among fans, but are unlikely in reality...but not impossible. Keep those potentially false hopes alive Broncos Country!
Former Saints Head Coach, Sean Payton: Probably the prize this offseason when it comes to coaching candidates. The future Hall of Fame coach “retired” last year but appears to be heading back to the coaching ranks this upcoming year. The Saints own his rights still, so any interested team would need to trade for him, but it does sound like he is available.
The offensive mastermind would be perfect for Denver, but it does seem unlikely. Rumors are that he wants Los Angeles (they just clinched a playoff spot, so seems unlikely that they would fire their coach) and wants former Broncos Head Coach, Vic Fangio, as his defensive coordinator. Both of those things likely keep him out of Denver, but things could change.
The real x-factor here is the Broncos ownership who can offer stupid money for a coach. We don’t know if they are willing to go these routes just yet, but they have the wealth to make someone seriously consdier this job, despite the drawbacks.
Michigan Football Head Coach, Jim Harbaugh: He’s currently being paid well to do his dream job and field a very competitive team that contends for the National Championship year in and year out, but could he return to the NFL?
Seems unlikely, and he has turned down chances in the past, but could Denver sway him out of the college ranks? Realistically, it’s probably unlikley, but once again, the Walton’s money is the x-factor here.
It seems like he will end up in the NFL once again at somepoint but when and with who is the big question. A contract offer that would make him among or the highest paid coaches in the NFL could do just that.
Who do you want to be the Broncos next Head Coach?
This poll is closed
Dallas DC Dan Quinn
Former Colts HC Frank Reich
49ers DC DeMeco Ryans
Eagles OC Shane Steichen
Eagles DC Jonathan Gannon
Chiefs OC Eric Bieniemy:
Lions OC Ben Johnson
Broncos DC Ejiro Evero
Giants OC Mike Kafka
Bills OC Ken Dorsey
Retired Saints HC Sean Payton
Michigan HC Jim Harbaugh
Other(name in the comments)