It was a mild surprising, pleasantly so, when Denver Broncos general manager John Elway on Monday tabbed special teams’ coordinator Joe DeCamillis as the team’s interim head coach this week.
Most assumed Elway would name Wade Phillips as the replacement to ailing head coach Gary Kubiak, who is taking a week off to deal with the migraine condition that put him in an ambulance and hospital bed Sunday night.
Phillips, after all, has been a head coach before, including two years with the Broncos when Elway was his quarterback.
Phillips has a pretty good record as a head coach, too, at 82-64. DeCamillis is 0-0. And, indeed, Phillips was under strong consideration to get the fourth interim gig of his career.
But remember when it was assumed the experienced Mark Sanchez would be the Broncos’ starting quarterback and instead it went to Trevor Siemian, who had zero NFL passes?
The Broncos aren’t defending Super Bowl champs because general manager Elway makes safe decisions.
“We looked at it, Gary and I talked about it,’’ Elway said Monday. “We wanted the least disruptive situation and that would be with Rick Dennison handling the offense, Wade handling the defense and Joe handling the special teams.’’
Calling one special teams play every so often is not quite as mentally intense as calling a 15-play series offensively or defensively. And besides, little did we know DeCamillis is the Broncos’ authority on game management.
He is Kubiak’s right-hand, sideline man when it comes to timeouts, throwing the challenge bag, going for it on fourth-and-1, spiking the ball or letting the play clock run all the way down.
One more reason: DeCamillis deserves this. He’s been an NFL assistant coach for 28 years. Give him one game. One game as an NFL head coach.
“Sure, he’s paid his dues,’’ Elway said. “There is no question about that. But everybody on the staff could have taken it. That’s how good we feel about our staff. I think that when you look at what everybody’s gameday responsibilities are, what was the best thing for the football team at this point in time? … I really felt it was going to be a seamless transition with Joe stepping in. With Rico on the offensive side and Wade on the defensive side, I didn’t want to load their books up any more than they’re already loaded up. After yesterday, we’ve got some things that we’ve got to get turned around and get ready to play on Thursday.”
DeCamillis was one of four boys raised by Tony and Sharon DeCamillis in Arvada. How many Broncos head coaches grew up in Arvada? (That would be none).
Tony has a sausage concession stand, Uncle Angelo’s, behind the South stands at Mile High.
“I think it’s great, I think he’ll do an excellent job,’’ Tony DeCamillis said. “I have to keep myself in control so I won’t bother him.’’
That might not be the case on the other side of Joe D’s family. To show how smart DeCamillis is, he married into the NFL coaching profession. His wife Dana is the daughter of none other than Dan Reeves.
“I’m sure he’ll give me unsolicited advice, for sure,’’ DeCamillis said of Reeves. “He’s been a great sounding board for all the years and I’m sure he’ll have some nuggets for sure.”
DeCamillis’ reaction when Elway asked him to become the interim head coach for a week?
“Yes sir,’’ DeCamillis said. “It really wasn’t an ask. You want to do what you can to help the team win. That’s how I look at it. I have the ultimate trust in the guy and obviously he trusts me with something that’s important. I want to do as well as we can."