Insider Lists 6 Names Being Discussed for Broncos HC Vacancy

Sean Payton

Getty Former New Orleans Saints HC Sean Payton walking the sidelines.

After a 4-11 overall record, the Denver Broncos went ahead and fired head coach Nathaniel Hackett after hiring him in January. Denver will now search for their fourth head coach since winning Super Bowl 50 with Gary Kubiak in 2016, but who could it be?

CBS NFL insider Josina Anderson listed six candidates being discussed as the next head coach of the Broncos.

The list included, Dan Quinn, Darrell Bevell, Eric Bienemy, Sean Payton, Demeco Ryans, and Shane Steichen.

Anderson also mentioned that a source she talked to emphasized that it would make sense for the Broncos to hire someone with some familiarity with quarterback Russell Wilson.

That automatically gives Quinn and Bevell the lead in that regard.

Quinn was the defensive coordinator in Seattle, leading the way for the “Legion of Boom” defense while Wilson was quarterbacking the Seahawks to back-to-back Super Bowl appearances.

Bevell was Wilson’s offensive coordinator in Seattle from 2011-2017.

Of the six candidates listed, four of the six are offensive minded head coaches and the Broncos desperately need to improve on offense since they’re averaging an NFL worst 15.5 points per game.

This doesn’t necessarily mean that the Broncos need to hire an offensive coach, but they need a great offensive mind somewhere on the coaching staff to improve Wilson’s play on the field.

Ownership Will Lead the Coaching Search

Broncos owner and CEO Greg Penner met with the local media, along with general manager George Paton, and apologized to Broncos fans everywhere.

Penner made it known that Hackett didn’t meet their expectations in his first season as the head coach and that they need to make a change and find the next head coach to meet the Broncos’ expectations and Penner will lead the way.

“I’ll lead a thorough process with input from our other owners and from George [Paton], who I have confidence in as our general manager. This will be a crucial offseason for us across our football operations; that’s coaching, personnel and support staff. We’ve got to get this right.”

Penner also mentioned that the Broncos need a leader for the organization.

“I’ve worked with a lot of great CEOs, and it starts with really strong leadership. I think that’s going to be the most critical factor here in a head coach. Obviously, the X’s and O’s are important, but we need a strong leader for this organization that’s focused on winning. That starts with culture, it’s instilling a sense of accountability, discipline, and we need an identity on offense. At the starting point, it’s got to be about culture and leadership, and those characteristics are what we’ve focused on the most.”

Paton, who will be helping search for his third head coach in three years, talked about how experience as a head coach can be helpful.

“If you have experience, it helps, but it’s not necessary. We’re going to keep an open mind in this search, and if there’s a quality candidate that’s experienced, yeah, sure, certainly, but we’re not going to limit ourselves just to the experienced candidates.”

First-Time Head Coaches Don’t do Well in Denver

It’s a fact, first-time head coaches have not panned out well for the Broncos especially in recent years.

Dating back to 2009, the Broncos brought in Josh McDaniels who was having success winning Super Bowls with Tom Brady and the New England Patriots. Once he ended up in Denver, it turned into a disaster.

McDaniels went ahead and traded starting quarterback Jay Cutler to the Chicago Bears in exchange for Kyle Orton. The former New England offensive coordinator continued to make dramatic changes by trading away even more key players.

In his first season, McDaniels started off with a 6-0 record, before finishing the season 2-8 and missing the playoffs.

The following season would continue to get worse and McDaniels would be fired after 12 games.

McDaniels ended his Broncos head coaching career with a 11-17 overall record.

After winning a Super Bowl with Kubiak in 2016, Denver went out and hired first-time head coach Vance Joseph who spent two seasons in Denver, but didn’t have success either.

Joseph lost the locker room early on because the defense was playing well, but the offense continued to struggle in both seasons. Joseph finished with a 11-21 record.

Denver then hired Vic Fangio, who lasted three seasons, but had the same issues as Joseph. Fangio had a solid defense, but no offense.

Fangio would finish with a 19-30 record.

Of the four most recent first-time head coaches for the Broncos, Denver has a combined record of 45-79 and not a single playoff appearance or winning season.

Head coaches John Fox and Kubiak on the other hand combined for a record of 67-29 with five straight playoff appearances and two Super Bowl appearances.

The Broncos will begin the search for their next head coach immediately.