Forget Cowher and Gruden: 7 Realistic Coaching Candidates for the Denver Broncos

Kyle Banks@@kylebanksContributor IIDecember 17, 2010

Forget Cowher and Gruden: 7 Realistic Coaching Candidates For The Denver Broncos

0 of 7

    The Denver Broncos are searching for another head coach less than two years after firing Mike Shanahan after 14 seasons on the sidelines. The Broncos made a splash by hiring 32-year-old New England Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels.

    The McDaniels Era lasted all of 28 games before getting canned. McDaniels' regime was very tumultuous having spats with quarterback Jay Cutler and wide receiver Brandon Marshall. Both Pro Bowlers ended up being traded away in consecutive offseasons.

    The personnel moves by made by McDaniels have been scrutinized immensely. The trades of Cutler, Marshall and running back Peyton Hillis, the draft day trade and selection of cornerback Alphonso Smith and then the selection of quarterback Tim Tebow in the first round of the 2010 NFL Draft were a shocker to most of the sports world.

    Now the Denver Broncos face the task of finding a new head coach that must rebuild the fledgling team and restore the legacy of a once great franchise. The next head coach will not have full control over personnel like Shanahan and McDaniels.

    The Broncos aren’t going to be hiring Bill Cowher or Jon Gruden as the next head coach, so fans can let that thought go.

    Both Cowher and Gruden will have huge price tags to return to the sideline and the Broncos aren’t going to pay that kind of money; especially since they still owe Mike Shanahan and Josh McDaniels roughly $14 million combined.

    Denver will probably look to past Broncos’ coaching staffs, some up-and-coming coordinators or some former NFL head coaches whom might deserve another chance at a head coaching job.

    Without further ado, here are the realistic coaching candidates for the Denver Broncos.

Mike Nolan

1 of 7


    1987-1992 Denver Broncos (Linebackers Coach)

    1993-1996 New York Giants (Defensive Coordinator)

    1997-1999 Washington Redskins (Defensive Coordinator)

    2000 New York Jets (Defensive Coordinator)

    2001-2004 Baltimore Ravens (Wide Receivers Coach, Defensive Coordinator)

    2005-2008 San Francisco 49ers (Head Coach)

    2009 Denver Broncos (Defensive Coordinator)

    2010-present Miami Dolphins (Defensive Coordinator)

    The Miami Dolphins Defensive Coordinator is one of the popular candidates to become the next head coach of the Broncos. Nolan was the defensive coordinator in 2009 and had some success during the 6-0 start, only allowing an astounding 66 points during the win streak.

    At the end of the 2009 season, McDaniels and Nolan mutually agreed that he would resign as defensive coordinator. The next day, Nolan went to the Dolphins where his defense is currently ranked fifth in the NFL in total defense. (299.2 YPG)

    Nolan might get some interest from other teams to become their head coach but if the Broncos are the only suitor, Nolan might be itching to get another chance at an NFL head coaching job.

Mike Mularkey

2 of 7


    1994-1995 Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Tight Ends Coach)

    1996-2000 Pittsburgh Steelers (Tight Ends Coach)

    2001-2003 Pittsburgh Steelers (Offensive Coordinator)

    2004-2005 Buffalo Bills (Head Coach)

    2006 Miami Dolphins (Offensive Coordinator)

    2007 Miami Dolphins (Tight Ends Coach)

    2008-present Atlanta Falcons (Offensive Coordinator)

    Mularkey is rumored to be one of the top candidates on the Broncos’ radar to become the next Broncos head coach roaming the sidelines. Mularkey is most notably remembered for the razzle-dazzle and trick plays while offensive coordinator with the Pittsburgh Steelers during the late 1990s.

    Mularkey became the head coach of the Buffalo Bills in 2004 and was at the helm during the Bills’ last winning season.

    After a two-year stint with the Dolphins, Mularkey has moved on to the Atlanta Falcons as offensive coordinator where his offense ranks ninth in the NFL and quarterback Matt Ryan is having his best season as a pro.

    Mularkey will be a hot commodity this off-season and has expressed interest in being a head coach in the NFL again. This would be an exciting hire for the Broncos offense if Mularkey gets the job, but they’d have to bring in a good defensive coordinator.

Gary Kubiak

3 of 7


    1994 San Francisco 49ers (Quarterback coach)

    1995-2005 Denver Broncos (Offensive Coordinator)

    2006-present Houston Texans (Head Coach)

    The sentimental favorite to become the next Broncos head coach is current Houston Texans head coach Gary Kubiak. Kubiak was the Broncos offensive coordinator from 1995 until 2005 when he became the head coach of the Texans.

    The Broncos offense flourished with Kubiak and faltered once he left Denver. Kubiak has been unable to get the Houston Texans into the playoffs during his first five years.

    If the Texans fire Kubiak, the first phone call he’ll get will be from the Denver Broncos.

Jim Fassel

4 of 7


    1991-1992 New York Giants (Quarterback coach, Offensive Coordinator)

    1993-1994 Denver Broncos (Offensive Coordinator)

    1995 Oakland Raiders (Quarterback Coach)

    1996 Arizona Cardinals (Offensive Coordinator)

    1997-2003 New York Giants (Head Coach)

    2004-2006 Baltimore Ravens (Offensive Coordinator)

    2009-present Las Vegas Locomotives (UFL) (Head Coach)

    Jim Fassel has spent the past two seasons in the United Football League coaching the Las Vegas Locomotives. Under Fassel, the Locomotives are have amassed a record of 11-5 and have won both UFL Championship games.

    Fassel went to the UFL and has proven himself once again that he is a good football coach. Surely, there are other candidates that the Broncos will be more intrigued by but if they can’t land one of their top choices, Fassel will be a good hire for the Broncos.

Troy Calhoun

5 of 7


    1989-1994 Air Force (Assistant Coach)

    1995-2001 Ohio (Offensive Coordinator/Quarterback Coach)

    2001-2003 Wake Forest (Offensive Coordinator/Quarterback Coach)

    2003-2005 Denver Broncos (Assistant Coach)

    2006 Houston Texans (Offensive Coordinator)

    2007-present Air Force (Head Coach)

    Calhoun has already taken his name out of the hat as a possible candidate to coach the Broncos, choosing to sign a contract extension with the Air Force Academy.

    That doesn’t mean that the Broncos can’t persuade their former assistant coach over the next couple months to take the job if they can’t find a head coach.

    Its unlikely that Calhoun will make the jump back to the NFL, but he’ll remain a possible candidate until the Broncos name their next head coach.

Leslie Frazier

6 of 7


    1999-2002 Philadelphia Eagles (Defensive Backs)

    2003-2004 Cincinnati Bengals (Defensive Coordinator)

    2005-2006 Indianapolis Colts (Defensive Backs)

    2007-2010 Minnesota Vikings (Defensive Coordinator/Assistant Head Coach)

    2010-present Minnesota Vikings (Interim Head Coach)

    Frazier was a finalist for the Broncos job two years ago when McDaniels was hired. Currently the interim head coach for the Minnesota Vikings, Frazier has a very good chance at keeping the Vikings job.

    If the Vikings feel that Frazier is not the man for the job, Frazier will certainly be a hot commodity this off-season.

    Broncos owner Pat Bowlen was in favor of hiring Frazier over McDaniels, but was talked out of it. So if Bowlen gets another chance, Frazier could be the next coach at the helm of the Broncos.

Ron Rivera

7 of 7


    1997-1998 Chicago Bears (Defensive Quality Coach)

    1999-2003 Philadelphia Eagles (Linebackers Coach)

    2004-2006 Chicago Bears (Defensive Coordinator)

    2007 San Diego Chargers (Linebackers Coach)

    2008-present San Diego Chargers (Defensive Coordinator)

    Rivera has been an up-and-coming coordinator that will eventually land a head coaching job in the NFL As the defensive coordinator of the Chicago Bears and now the San Diego Chargers, Rivera’s defenses have ranked in the top five in total yards surrendered. The Chargers defense is first in Total Defense, allowing only 265 yards per game.

    The year 2011 might be the year that Rivera becomes a head coach. If the Broncos are serious about becoming a more defensive oriented team, Rivera would be a great hire. Knowing and succeeding with both the 4-3 and 3-4 scheme could be an advantage for Rivera during the hiring process.