The Broncos have hired Sean Kugler to coach the Denver Broncos' offensive line, a coaching source told 9News. Kugler's exact title is to be determined.
As Vance Joseph talked about what he wanted from his new coaching staff, it was almost as if he had Sean Kugler's image in the back of his mind.
“In my opinion,'' Joseph, Denver's head coach, said Tuesday in his joint state-of-the-Broncos press conference with general manager John Elway on Tuesday. “It was time to change the culture so we could get back to pushing our players to be the best that they can be and getting our best players to play at their best all the time.''
Chris Strausser, the Broncos' assistant offensive line coach last year, also interviewed for the job that was held by Jeff Davidson last season and is in the mix for a role with the team.
A text to Ryan Clady asked if Kugler would be a good choice as the Broncos' offensive line coach.
“Hell, yeah,'' Clady texted back.
Kugler has an extensive and mixed coaching background. He started with three years at the high school level. He also has 12 years at the college level – the past 4 ½ years as UTEP's head coach – and 11 years as an NFL assistant coach.
In 2006, he was the Boise State Broncos' offensive line coach, where he tutored a future Denver Broncos' four-time Pro Bowler and two-time All Pro in Clady.
The text exchange was followed promptly by a phone call.
“I had him one year at Boise and I thought he was great as far as motivating guys,'' said Clady, who had just returned to his Los Angeles-area home after the Denver Broncos' honored his career over the weekend. “Some of the guys I played with didn't have the greatest talent but I think he elevated the whole unit. He communicates well."
“One thing I noticed is, he treated us like men. You don't really get that in college too often.''
Kugler's coaching style apparently is closer to matching the energy of a Bill Kollar or Reggie Herring than the soft-spoken Davidson. Which sounds like Joseph's kind of coach for his revised staff.
What Kugler should understand is it's been three years since the Broncos have had a tackle like Clady. Garett Bolles started 16 games this past season as a first-round rookie. While he demonstrated the athletic skills to one day become a fine player, his play still has a dropped left foot in the development stages.
At right tackle, the Broncos tried $6 million-a-year free agents each of the past two years in Donald Stephenson and Menelik Watson. The team is expected to try, try, try again in 2018.
“It'll go back into the evaluation process,'' Elway said in a sit-down interview with 9NEWS on Tuesday. “Obviously, it's not one we want to continue to talk about because we want to get it fixed. Menelik, we lost him to a calf halfway through the year so that's a problem. He's had a history of injuries and so can we rely on him to stay healthy for a year? Because I think he has the ability to do it.''
With Kugler hired, the Broncos are looking for assistant coaches at the quarterback, running back, receiver, outside linebacker, defensive backs, and head special teams positions. Chicago Bears running backs coach Curtis Modkins is a candidate for the same position with the Broncos.
Carolina's Thomas McGaughey, whose contract expires after this season, is in the mix to possibly return to the Broncos as special teams coordinator. McGaughey was the Broncos' assistant special teams coordinator in 2005-06. Oakland's Brad Seely, Detroit's Joe Marciano and Indianapolis' Tom McMahon -- all special teams coordinators whose head coach just got fired -- may also be in the mix.
After Broncos' special teams struggled under first-year coordinator Brock Olivo in 2017, Denver is expected to replace him with someone who has NFL coordinator experience.