Evans: Making sense of this Denver Broncos head coaching search

Kansas City Chiefs special teams coordinator Dave Toub reacts against the Arizona Cardinals during a preseason NFL football game at University of Phoenix Stadium. Toub is among three candidates up for the Denver Broncos head coach opening. Photo by Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

I’ll give John Elway this. He said his coaching search would be three to four people. And, boy, has he stuck to that.

I, personally, am underwhelmed by the list of candidates. I believe the job of NFL head coach has become so big that experience is a necessity, especially for a job like the Denver Broncos’.

It’s why I would like to see them hire a former head coach, like a Mike McCoy, even at the risk of setting off all the coaching “retread” critics out there. It says something about the pressure of working for Elway and the expectations inside the building at Dove Valley that even a veteran coach like Gary Kubiak admitted it was too much at times.

As far as the three candidates the Broncos have shown interest in? The common denominator is all three would be first-time head coaches.

That’s telling.

Like it or not, Elway has power, and he wants to wield it. It’s no secret that his last two head coaches, Kubiak and John Fox, didn’t always agree in lock step with John. By hiring a first-time head coach, Elway’s influence would grow.

I’m not calling him another Jerry Jones. I’m not saying he wants a puppet as a coach. But Elway definitely wants a coach he can “work with.”

Is that a bad thing? Elway is the boss, and he has established himself as one of the best general managers in the game. So, for the time being, it’s not.

Let’s take a look at each candidate.

I’m not a huge fan of Kyle Shanahan. I believe his ability to come in and magically transform the offense with his Xs and Os gifts is overrated.

He will be hired by someone because of his talents as an offensive coordinator, but that’s not the job he would be getting. It’s a head coach the Broncos seek.

Shanahan wouldn’t be spending all of his time with the quarterbacks; his offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach would. Instead, Shanahan would be busy sitting in on defensive meetings, on special teams meetings, talking to the media four days a week.

In short, he wouldn’t be doing the same things in this new position as the things he was doing in his old position that made him a head coach in the first place.

Vance Joseph? At least he wouldn’t be hired because of his whiz-bang talents on the defensive side of the ball. Anyone who watched that pathetic display by the Miami Dolphins against the Pittsburg Steelers would understand that couldn’t be the reason the Broncos are interested.

If they hire Joseph, it will be because they are getting a master motivator and communicator and a molder of men who will coach his coaches and “run” the Broncos as if he was a CEO.

The only problem there is he hasn’t done that yet in his coaching career. It also puts a lot of pressure on hiring two surefire hits with the coordinators, as they will be asked to carry a huge responsibility.

If the Broncos hire the inexperienced Joseph, then the offensive coordinator (McCoy?) now becomes more important than Joseph because of the need to fix the offense. Plus, because Joseph is technically a defensive guy, is the relationship between he and the defensive coordinator hurt?

Which brings us to the unheralded Dave Toub.

Should he be considered unheralded? He’s one of only three guys on Elway’s short list. That should count for something, right?

Toub is growing on me, if these are going to be the only three choices. He wouldn’t be tied to the offense or defense, so the coordinators are both empowered to go out and do their thing.

As a special teams coordinator, he’s used to dealing with guys from the offense and defense, which earns him team-wide credibility. He checks the box as that coaching CEO I believe in so much.

He knows the Kansas City Chiefs, who aren’t going away anytime soon, as well as the Broncos and the rest of the AFC West. Don’t overlook that last part, as this division is shaping up to be tough for the next few years. Having someone from this division coach Denver isn’t such a bad thing.

Give me a combination of Toub at head coach, Wade Phillips at defensive coordinator, and McCoy at offensive coordinator, and I’d be somewhat satisfied with Elway’s coaching search.


Schlereth and Evans

Spend your morning tapping into the wealth of sport knowledge from three-time Super Bowl champion and former Broncos offensive lineman Mark "Stink" Schlereth and longtime Denver sports radio voice Mike Evans. Schlereth spent 12 seasons in the NFL, earning two trips to the Pro Bowl and winning a Super Bowl with the Redskins and two with the Broncos. He's also a longtime NFL analyst for ESPN and supporting cast member of "Ballers" on HBO. Evans has graced the sports radio airwaves for two decades, 15 years in Denver. He's a proud graduate of Syracuse University.

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About the Author

Mike Evans

Mike Evans co-hosts Sports Radio 104.3 The Fan’s “Schlereth and Evans,” along with Mark Schlereth. Listen weekdays from 6 to 9 a.m. He’s a proud graduate of Syracuse University. Follow Mike: @MikeEvans1043