This offseason, Denver Broncos offensive coordinator Mike McCoy will be one of the most sought-after head coaching candidates of 2013. As of early Tuesday morning, McCoy has already scheduled two interviews—with the Chicago Bears and Arizona Cardinals—for this weekend, per ESPN's Adam Schefter (via BroncoTalk).
McCoy is considered a top candidate to land a head coaching job after having successfully rebuilt the Broncos offense into a read-option team with Tim Tebow last season and reverting to a more traditional offense in 2012 when Peyton Manning posted the greatest season by a quarterback in Broncos franchise history.
With McCoy running the offense, the Broncos led the NFL in rushing yards in 2011 and had the No. 4 overall ranked offense in the NFL in 2012. As a result, McCoy is likely headed out of Denver, moving up the coaching chain in a new city.
That leaves the Broncos with a decision to make—who will replace McCoy in Denver? Assuming McCoy does take a job elsewhere, here are three potential candidates to replace him:
1. Broncos Quarterbacks Coach Adam Gase
The most likely scenario for the Broncos to replace McCoy would be to promote from within the organization. Many would argue that there is no better option than quarterbacks coach Adam Gase, who has worked closely with Manning since he arrived in Denver.
"With Peyton, the two of them are perfect for one another," McCoy told The Denver Post in September, speaking of the coach-to-player relationship between Manning and Gase. "Peyton's not someone who is going to walk in and think he's got all the answers. He wants Adam to (push him) every day and make sure he's doing it the right way."
" 'He's a guy that cares a lot about his job,' Manning said of Gase. 'He's in here early, stays late, he works at it, he puts the time in, and as a quarterback you certainly appreciate that.' "
It sounds like the duo of Manning and Gase has certainly gotten off to a good start. A promotion for Gase would not surprise anyone closely following the Broncos organization.
"Adam's been important to me as I'm going through this rehabbing process," Manning added when speaking of Gase. "He's been as much a part of the rehabbing process as the trainers have. He's played a critical role," and that is just one of the reasons why Gase is a candidate to replace McCoy.
2. Broncos Running Backs Coach Eric Studesville
Again, the most likely scenario appears to be the Broncos promoting from within, and running backs coach Eric Studesville is a worthy candidate. When Denver fired former head coach Josh McDaniels with four games remaining late in the 2010 season, Studesville served as the team's interim head coach to finish the season.
After the season, Studesville interviewed with John Elway and the Broncos brass to officially become the team's head coach. The Broncos ultimately decided to hire John Fox, but retained Studesville to continue coaching the team's running backs.
Studesville has faithfully served the offense since joining the team in 2009. Of the coaches deserving of a promotion in Denver, Studesville is certainly among them.
3. Titans Offensive Consultant Tom Moore
The third and final top candidate to replace McCoy in Denver is Peyton Manning's former offensive coordinator, Tom Moore. After leaving the Colts in 2010, Moore has served as an offensive consultant for the Jets and currently the Titans, but could potentially land with another team as an offensive coordinator because such a signing would be considered a promotion, allowing Denver to court him.
Moore's success with Manning in Indianapolis has been well-documented, and it's no secret that Manning has basically been his own offensive coordinator in Denver. A reunion between Moore and Manning would presumably go over smoothly, as the Broncos are already basically running Moore's offense in Denver.
All of this, however, would only become relevant if McCoy does leave the Broncos, and that is not guaranteed to happen. According to CBS Sports' Andrew Mason, McCoy "will be choosy" when considering new teams and could ultimately return to Denver for another season.
Until McCoy officially makes his decision, the Broncos do not have to worry about potential replacements. If McCoy does decide to blaze a new trail, there are three high-quality candidates ready to replace him.