Profiling the Denver Broncos' Journeyman Coaches

brian clothierContributor IMay 15, 2009

ENGLEWOOD,CO  - JULY 29:  The Denver Broncos take to the line of scrimmage during the morning session on the first day of Training Camp at the Broncos Training Facility on July 29, 2005 in Englewood, Colorado. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

The 2009 Denver Broncos will look quite different from the 2008 squad.

And though a lot of attention will be paid to the new QB, the new running backs, and the new 3-4 defense, success starts with the coaches…who are also mostly new.

Let’s take a look at some of the key personnel who will be sharing the sideline this year.


Josh McDaniels, head coach

How many times have you heard that old cliché “It’s in his blood”? Well, that phrase couldn’t fit anyone better than Broncos head coach Josh McDaniels.

McDaniels father, Thom, is a coaching legend in the Ohio high school football world. In fact, Thom coached his son (as the team quarterback) at Canton McKinley.

After high school, McDaniels was able to benefit from his father’s friendship with Nick Saban. Josh landed a graduate assistant role at Michigan State then joined the Patriots' organization.

He spent 2001 as a personnel assistant with the Patriots before taking on a defensive coaching position in 2002. In 2004, he traded defense for offense as he became the team’s quarterbacks coach.

Two years later, he parlayed that role into the offensive coordinator’s position (following the exit of Charlie Weis to Notre Dame in 2004).

In 2007, under McDaniels’ guidance, the Patriots' offense set NFL records for touchdowns and points scored.

Now McDaniels has the opportunity to showcase his style of offense in Denver.


The assistants

Though Mike Shanahan had hoped his staff would be retained, McDaniels thought it best to bring in some new minds.

The newcomers include special teams coach Mike Priefer, offensive coordinator Mike McCoy, wide receivers coach Adam Gase, defensive coordinator Mike Nolan, defensive line coach Wayne Nunnely, and secondary coach Ed Donatell, who is back for a second term (1995-99).

Mike Priefer has been in the coaching ranks since 1994, when he coached at his alma mater, Navy.With four college coaching positions under his belt, Priefer made the jump to the NFL in 2002 when he joined the Jacksonville Jaguars. Before coming to Denver, he spent time in the Giants' organization and, most recently, with division rival Kansas City as the Chiefs' special-teams coach.

Mike McCoy spent time as quarterback at Long Beach State and Utah before making a jump to the pros (Amsterdam Admirals of NFL Europe and the Calgary Stampeders of the Canadian Football League).

His short-lived pro career segued into a coaching career when he became an offensive assistant for the Carolina Panthers in 1999. McCoy made his way to quarterbacks coach in Carolina before making the transition to offensive coordinator for the Broncos.

Speaking of noted pedigrees, Mike Nolan's father, Dick, was a revered coach for the 49ers, and Mike has worked with Brian Billick, Al Groh, and Norv Turner, as well as Dan Reeves in Denver.

Nolan lettered three years at safety for Oregon and then took a graduate assistant position with the Ducks. From there, he moved on to Pac-10 rival Stanford to be  linebackers coach. Nolan also coached at Rice (defensive line) and LSU (linebackers) before joining the Broncos' staff in 1987. 

He coached the linebackers in Denver until 1992 then worked for the Giants, Redskins, Jets, and Ravens before getting his own head coaching position in San Francisco in 2005.

Nolan, who will run a 3-4 (last year, the Broncos worked from a 4-3), inherits a defense that has given up over 400 points in each of the last two seasons and last year ranked 29th in the league.

Josh McDaniels has assembled a fine staff of coaches to help the Broncos add another Lombardy Trophy to their collection. After several disappointing seasons, they may have the pieces in place to begin their ascension back to the top.

These journeymen coaches hope they have finally found a home.


Retrieved May 14, 2009, from the Denver Broncos team site.

Retrieved May 15, 2009, from



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