For the second consecutive year, the Broncos have lost one of their top coordinators to a division rival. First Dennis Allen jumped at a chance to be the head coach of the Oakland Raiders and then Mike McCoy opted for sunny San Diego where he will try to fix Philip Rivers.
The Broncos did a masterful job replacing Allen last offseason with the recently fired Jack Del Rio, but replacing McCoy is a little more delicate. Any new offensive coordinator will be working with Peyton Manning and the Broncos wouldn’t want to give the job to just anyone.
When considering all the options available to the Broncos, there are really only three candidates that make any sense: Ken Whisenhunt, Adam Gase and Tom Moore. If the Broncos are serious about winning, they would hire the man that worked with Manning for most of his career.
Tom Moore served as Manning’s offensive coordinator from his rookie year until 2009. In 2010, Moore served as the team’s senior offensive assistant when Clyde Christensen took over at OC. Christensen used the exact same offense Moore and Manning had used for a decade, with Moore still available as a resource.
Moore spent the last year away from the Colts as an offensive consultant for the New York Jets and Tennessee Titans, but he will not be returning to the Titans in 2013 and says he’d like to be an offensive coordinator once again, according to Jim Wyatt of The Tennessean.
The Broncos are moving fast in an effort to replace McCoy because the coaching staff will leave for Hawaii to coach the Pro Bowl next week. Jeff Legwold of the Denver Post reports that the Broncos are likely to hire McCoy’s replacement by the end of the weekend with former Arizona head coach Ken Whisenhunt and Broncos quarterback coach Adam Gase being the top choices.
Gase may be a rising star in the franchise and it can’t hurt to have a young first-time play caller cut his teeth with a safety net that Manning affords, but there are some drawbacks to giving him the job. Gase has only been an NFL coach since 2005 and has just five years of experience as a position coach. He may need a little more seasoning before he's ready to call plays.
There’s also a good chance Denver could be facing the same situation next season if the Denver offense continues to succeed and Gase is viewed as a potential head coach.
Bringing Moore in as the OC with the idea of Gase waiting in the wings would seem like a good move. Manning would obviously be comfortable with Moore and they’d have the young Gase ready to take over for the 74-year-old when the time is right.
It’s worth noting in all this that Fox, McCoy and Gase are all represented by agent Bob Lamonte. That doesn’t mean much considering Del Rio and Allen weren’t represented by Lamonte, but it would certainly expedite things in a time-sensitive situation.
Whisenhunt reportedly has known Fox and Manning for quite a while; that familiarity could enable the Broncos to give Gase another year with the idea that Whisenhunt would be given an opportunity to be a head coach somewhere else next season.
Working with Manning looks really nice on a resume. The problem with Whisenhunt is the fact that he’d have to adjust to Manning’s preferred offense. Mike McCoy did it flawlessly which is why he was such a hot candidate for all of the open head coaching jobs. The Broncos might get a little too comfortable believing that every coach can just pick up a new offense and master it.
Who should be the Broncos' next offensive coordinator?
The Broncos also have to ask if they want to become a head coaching incubator or if they would like some long-term stability. Whisenhunt could be another wild success and then be gone next offseason. Do the Broncos really want to put Manning in a position of having to adjust to a third play caller in three years? Is changing offensive coordinators every year in their best interest?
If it comes down to what is best for the Broncos, they should hire Moore. Moore knows Manning, the offense and no one is going to try to make him a head coach. Moore only has another one or two seasons left at his age and by then Gase will be plenty seasoned to take over.
It might not be the popular decision to hire an older gray-haired offensive coordinator when a name like Whisenhunt is available. It might not be popular to opt for a geezer when the NFL is so often turning to young coaches like Gase. It might not be popular, but hiring Moore is the right thing to do.