Denver Broncos: Harbaugh Or Another Offensive Mind? Please, Say It Ain't So!

Daniel BogaardCorrespondent IJanuary 7, 2011

Though a favorite in Palo Alto, and the number one candidate on many owners wish list, hiring Harbaugh in Denver would be a mistake.
Though a favorite in Palo Alto, and the number one candidate on many owners wish list, hiring Harbaugh in Denver would be a mistake.Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

Throughout the past few weeks, I have been laying somewhat low as it pertains to writing articles for the Bleacher Report.  I wanted to wait for the Tim Tebow clamoring to calm down and I needed to see if John Elway was actually going to join the Denver Broncos front office.

Now that those things have happened, at least for the most part, it is time to focus in on the next big decision to be made—who are the Denver Broncos going to hire as their new head coach? 

Since Tim Tebow, much to the dismay of his flock, cannot be the next head coach (though I am certain there is some nut job out there who thinks he can), we must look at other options.

It has been reported that the Denver Broncos are interested in interviewing Stanford head coach Jim Harbaugh.  In my opinion, this would be a big mistake.  I say this not because I have anything against Harbaugh personally, because I do not.  I enjoyed Harbaugh as a player and I thoroughly enjoyed his introductory press conference at Stanford when he stated the first thing he wanted to do was “beat Pete Carroll and USC.”

That was a pretty brash move.  Even more compelling is that he backed it up. 

However, I do have a slight problem with him discussing a coaching job with a team that still has a head coach.  I think that calls directly to integrity and character, but I digress. 

Not to mention that I do not think that owner Pat Bowlen will be able to match the reported $7.5 million that the Dolphins were prepared to offer Harbaugh before they pulled out after the interview. 

Regardless of these things, I think he will be a fantastic head coach somewhere in due time, but for the Broncos and their current state of uncertainty, he is not the right choice for the job. 

It is not just Harbaugh though.  I think Mike Mularkey, Brian Schottenheimer, Marty Mornhinweg or any other offensive “guru” that is out there would be a mistake at head coach. Many of my fellow Bronco-maniacs may disagree with me, but after enduring the worst season in franchise history, I believe it is time to go in a completely different direction. 

This may seem contradictory to other articles in which I have stated that I wanted the Broncos to hire Jon Gruden, who is in fact an offensive mind. To this, I retort that after watching the last few games and letting the entire season soak in, I recant the statement. 

Gruden, who probably would not be interested anyway, would not be able to fix what ails our Broncos.

The time has come to get a defensive minded coach, a defensive “guru,” in as the new head coach of the Denver Broncos. 

My reasoning and justification behind this is twofold.  To understand the first justification, one must look no further than what has transpired this season.  Through the first eight games of the season, Kyle Orton was on a passing tear. 

In spite of their anemic rushing attack, Denver was still able to be competitive in games on the offensive side of the ball. As the season progressed, teams recognized Orton’s tendencies, he was injured, and Tebow entered into the game—to the same tune. 

In the games against both the Texans and the Chargers, Tebow, much like Orton had all year, was forced to rally the team from a deficit.  Why?  Because the Broncos defense is absolutely horrendous. 

Forget about the statistics, they are far too embarrassing, but anyone who watched the Broncos play this year knows that the defense was easily to blame for the majority of the shortcomings. 

With this in mind, why then would the team seek out a coach who specializes in offense?  I equate this to bringing in an interior decorator to fix your roof, or an architect to rebuild your engine. 

Denver has specialized in having a superior offense over the last 30 years.  In those 30 years, they have had one head coach—ONE—who was a defensive mind.  That coach was Wade Phillips.  In the last decade alone, Denver has hired and fired almost as many defensive coordinators as Al Davis has head coaches.  This most recent list consists of Martindale (hopefully), Nolan, Bates, Coyer, Rhodes and Robinson. 

That is SIX defensive coordinators in 10 years!  And Broncos fans wonder why we never have any continuity on the defensive side of the ball?  Coincidentally enough, the Broncos have one playoff victory in that time span—just in case anyone was curious. 

So, when is it time to suggest a different route?


The second reason as to why Denver should chuck the idea of hiring an offensive-minded coach could be found in the difference having a strong defensive coach can make. 

Look at the teams that have a defensive mind at coach: Pittsburgh, Baltimore, the Jets, the Bears and the Patriots.  What do all of these teams have in common?  They are all in the playoffs and some have multiple championships. 

If Denver were to bring in a coach like Perry Fewell from the Giants, get him three defensive studs with our three picks out of the first 50 in the draft, then we could talk about restoring a team to dominance. 

With an offensive coach, you always run the risk of him wanting “his guy” at quarterback and “his type of player” on offense. 

Who knows what could happen with this.  He could trade away your franchise quarterback, get robbed blind in a trade by surrendering a 1,000 yard rusher and two draft picks for a bust at QB, trade away your best wide receiver, only to draft more receivers and another quarterback in the first round. 

I know that all sounds insane, but I heard that it happened somewhere. 

In this day and age of the NFL, good offensive coordinators are a dime a dozen.  The same cannot be said for a great defensive coach.  The old adage that defense wins championships may not be as fervent as it once was, but it is still truth. 

Imagine, and the Tebow contingent will love this, that Tebow actually earns the starting job next year.  Denver will essentially be starting a rookie quarterback in 2011.  Wouldn’t it be much more conducive to both the success of Tebow, and the franchise as a whole, if Tebow was not expected to go out and put up four touchdowns every game simply for the Broncos to be in contention to win? 

If Denver boasted a defense that held opponents to 15 to 17 points a game, how much of a difference could that make?  In referring back to the aforementioned analogy, doesn’t it make more sense to hire a roofer to fix your roof, and a mechanic to rebuild your engine? 

Harbaugh is not the answer for Denver.  Neither are the other men of his ilk. Give me Fewell, Rivera, or even Ryan from Cleveland.  The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. 

In this instance, I truly hope that Pat Bowlen is not going insane. 


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