At the annual Boy Scout breakfast two years ago at the Pepsi Center, I had the privilege of moderating a panel that included Broncos' head coach Gary Kubiak and his three coordinators Wade Phillips, Rick Dennison and Joe DeCamillis.
The four coaches were all coming off a Super Bowl 50 victory. They were all fascinating speakers.
And they are all gone.
It has been widely stated the Denver Broncos have been undergoing a difficult transition because of the retirement of legendary quarterback Peyton Manning.
Understated is how this organization has reeled since Kubiak was forced to retire from coaching because of medical reasons.
When Kubiak left, most of his assistants eventually exited with him, with more leaving last week. A major reason why Broncos general manager John Elway decided to keep head coach Vance Joseph despite his first-year, 5-11 record was to assuage this massive coaching turnover.
“I don't like to make change,'' Elway said in a 9News interview last week.
Wait a minute, John. The NFL industry may dispute that statement.
“I know that but they've got to go back and look at the record,'' Elway said. “I think because John Fox was not here and Gary retired, somehow I became a guy who wants to get rid of head coaches. I don't like that. I don't like change. I want us to be very good every year and have a good group where everyone understands what their responsibilities are. That's the goal. That's what I look for.''
Kubiak's departure as head coach a year ago (he has remained in an advisory role) has led to the near-complete exit of his Super Bowl coaching staff. Greg Knapp, Clancy Barone, Brian Callahan, Brian Pariani, Samson Brown, James Cregg, Marc Lubick and Tony Coaxum followed Kubiak and the coordinators out the door last year. Some left for better opportunities, some not.
And now Eric Studesville, Tyke Tolbert and Fred Pagac have been deemed good enough to help the Broncos win a Super Bowl, only to be told they are not good enough two years later. Phil Rauscher is about to leave for Washington and its assistant offensive line position.
The only top deputy coaches remaining from that Super Bowl 50 staff are Joe Woods, Bill Kollar, Reggie Herring and Luke Richesson.
Coaching matters in the NFL. The resurrection of the Los Angeles Rams and dominance of the New England Patriots is proof.
The Broncos' coaching upheaval is not Joseph's fault, although maybe a little. In my view, Joseph inherited a near impossible, lose-lose situation.
My favorite teacher of all-time was my third-grade teacher, Mrs. Robertson. One of my least favorites was my fourth-grade teacher. Looking back, my fourth-grade teacher had no chance.
Joseph's first season was dreadfully disappointing. But the context of that disappointment is a major reason why Elway is giving his head coach another chance.
As Joseph's former college coach Bill McCartney said while observing a Broncos practice in December: “It takes time for a leader to impose his will.''
“Ultimately, that's why I wanted to stay with Vance,'' Elway said. “Give him that opportunity where if he wanted to make some changes on his staff he would do that and see what steps he would take to get us out of what we went through this year.''