The Denver Broncos Candidates List: Fighting the Fires While Feeding the Flame

Chaz MattsonAnalyst IJanuary 5, 2009

While in the middle of an extended personal holiday layoff I got this splitting headache officially about a week ago.  It’s still splitting to this day. 

It had been building for some time I’m sure, maybe as far back as the NFL playoffs of 2005 when the Broncos knocked out the Patriots and eventually lost to the Steelers in the AFC Championship. 

The Broncos are 6-2 in AFC Championship games, among the best in the NFL, yet in that game they failed to make the adjustments to find a way to win the AFC.  The Broncos have also been one of the most winning franchises the last 30+ seasons.  That is most certainly the under-current to this most splitting headache.

A week ago Sunday the Broncos allowed the final nails to be driven into the coffin that was their lackluster 2008 season.  A week ago Monday it was widely reported that the business relationship that couldn’t be broken was now busted. 

Pat Bowlen had to make a change and chose to terminate Denver Broncos head coach and CEO of Football Operations Mike Shanahan.  Probably the most worthy title Mike held at Dove Valley was friend to Pat Bowlen.  Still that did not seem to allow the longest tenured coach to retain his position with the Broncos.

Certainly this came as a surprise to most.  Mike’s offensive coordination skills, team management, and game management skills are among the most respected in football on any level.  Still the change was made and finding his replacement brought about the subsequent Mile High headache. 

So now the football brass at Dove Valley is called to consider the merits of a coach and an eventual GM selection.

We can now all debate skill sets, qualifications, merits, and characteristics of the future head coach.  We can now break down the list and make some recommendations and pass the Excedrin.

The first group to consider is that of former NFL head coaches.  Certainly it serves to make these sorts of consideration since many jobs want experience. 

The two names that immediately gain the most respect nationally are Marty Schottenheimer and Bill Cowher.  Marty is available and all signs point to him engaged with the city that once caused him grief, he currently is an outside thought internally.  Bill Cowher announced on national TV yesterday he has no desire to coach next season for any team, so count him out. 

Steve Mariucci is also an engaging name from the respect that he previously coached in a west coast system similar to the Denver offensive schemes and having coach two NFL franchises.  Mariucci’s overall record in the NFL however is just a couple of games above .500. 

Former Ravens coach Brian Billick is as dark as a dark horse gets, possibly because he could not get the Ravens back to a prominent position after winning the Super Bowl in 2000. 

Among the current coaches on the Broncos staff Rick Dennison is due to formally interview with the team later this week.  Dennison was with the team coach Shanahan’s entire tenor. 

Jim Ryan is not officially in the running, but could be a good candidate for the team to consider.  Ryan played under Dan Reeves and coached under Shanahan much in the same way coach Dennison had. 

Bobby Turner could be the most compelling name not yet to be mentioned in the head coach discussions.  Turner was loyal to coach Shanahan and always helped the team to have a solid supply of running-backs who could be counted on to rack up big numbers.  Additionally Turner is a minority candidate and possibly one who is deserving of being interviewed as his career grows.

Without a doubt, to this point in time Steve Spagnuolo is the name that is being mentioned most as an outside assistant being promoted to the head job.  He helped the Giants defense to rise up to a level that helped them to defeat the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl last season. 

The team that broke the longest win streak during an NFL season was defensively coordinated by Spagnuolo.  Raheem Morris, the DB coach for Tampa who was recently promoted to defensive coordinator, is a good minority candidate and has been interviewed.  Morris may be one of the leagues rising stars in coming years. 

There are other offensive-minded coordinators that have been mentioned like Josh McDaniels from New England and Jason Garrett.  Garrett really shouldn’t be in the discussion, but is being interviewed by the Broncos.  McDaniels is a sound offensive mind but may not be ready to be a head coach. 

The two coaches meeting in the BCS Championship are clashing this Thursday, and may clash over the opportunity to be interviewed as well.  Urban Meyer has not been asked while Bob Stoops denies the Broncos have contacted him with a fairly stoic shrug.  That is reason enough to by pass Stoops, but Meyers record has to be given serious consideration.  Gary Barnett has been doing radio since leaving the University of Colorado but could be a good NFL coach.

Additionally in the state of Colorado Dave Logan, whose name always comes up when a big job opens up, could be a good candidate.  Another former Buff, John Embree is always mentioned in state as well when big jobs are opened.

Finally, writers rarely, if ever, openly lobby for a position, unless of course they are overlooked. 

The fact is I do know the history of the Broncos better than most.  Part of the reason I go to bat for myself is also for other high school coaches I know that are qualified to take on the challenges the NFL brings as well as the collegiate placement. 

I have coached offensive skills positions and have been a coordinator.  I do have a sense of what it is to play on both sides of the ball because I have.  I know what offenses and defenses work well in which situations and I am a motivator with a professional acumen to match.  So while you may not know me, don’t discount me. I’m 42 and I know the NFL, I recently had to turn down a job as recently as last January in the league.  I also would qualify as a minority candidate. 

For some this might seem like a Jerry McGuire moment to say what should be said, but it’s not.  I would like to humbly submit this as a statement of fact. 

The Denver Broncos should consider me since I do know their history and I do know what it’s going to take to reach the Super Bowl sooner than later.  Finally, I’m only about a 10 minute drive away from Dove Valley and I could save the franchise on gas money while doing a top-notch job at leading the team back to the playoffs.

So maybe you chuckled, at the end, but don’t do it too long, I might just surprise you.

The following is the unofficial list of candidates for the Denver Broncos head coaching position.

Former NFL Head Coaches

Marty Schottenheimer    Defense / Physical Offense (CLE / KC / WSH / SD)

Bill Cowher                    Defense / Physical Offense (PITT)

Steve Mariucci               West Coast (SF / DET)

Brian Billick                   Defense / Physical Offense (MIN / BAL)

Current Assistants

Rick Dennison               Defense / Offense Balanced attack (DEN)

Jim Ryan                       Defense / Offense Balanced attack (DEN)

Bobby Turner                 West Coast – Shanahan’s best disciple (DEN)

Outside Assistants

Steve Spagnuolo            Defense (NYG)

Josh McDaniels             Pro Spread Offense (NE)

Raheem Morris              Defense (TB)

Jason Garrett                 Pro Offense (DAL)

Other Coaches

Dave Logan                   (CU Buffs / CLE / DEN / High School)

Gary Barnett                  (CU Buffs / Northwestern)

Urban Meyer                  (Utah / Florida)

Bob Stoops                   (Oklahoma)

John Embree                 (CU Buffs / High School)

Chaz Mattson                (CU / High School / Business Management)


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