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Broncos have NFL's oldest, most experienced coaching staff at 'Top 6' positions

As Chiefs' Andy Reid proved in Super Bowl, older coaches can still be relatable to young players.
Credit: AP IMAGES

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — It is said that in Eastern, Mediterranean and Latin cultures, older men are not only treated with utmost respect, they are often revered.

The Vic Fangio-led Broncos coaching staff would do well in such places.

He and his staff get a pretty good deal in Colorado, too, providing they work circles around our nation’s youth, demonstrate skill in instructing and motivating the youthful Broncos’ player, and are willing to put in long, tedious hours in football film sessions.  

A breakdown down of the Broncos’ top 13 coaches — head coach, three coordinators and eight leading position coaches — reveals a 2020-season-opening average of 55 years of age with 20 years of NFL experience.

Consider there are seven head coaches who will be 40 or younger – Sean McVay (34), Zac Taylor (37), Kevin Stefanski (38), Joe Judge (38), Brian Flores (39), Kyle Shanahan (40) and Matt LaFleur (40) – when the 2020 NFL season begins.

The youngest of the Broncos’ position coaches is secondary coach Renaldo Hill, who is 41.

The Broncos will have five coaches 60 and older at the start of the 2020 season, including their top man, Fangio.

The Broncos’ top 13 coaches with their ages and years of NFL coaching experience when the 2020 season opens September 10:

Name, position ................................. Age ... NFL yrs experience

Vic Fangio, head coach …..……........ 62 ....… 33

DEFENSE

Ed Donatell, coordinator ……….......….. 63 ....… 29

Bill Kollar, defensive line ……......…....... 67 ....… 31

Reggie Herring, inside linebackers … 61 ....… 14

John Pagano, outside linebackers …. 53 ....… 24

Renaldo Hill, secondary ……….........…… 41 …...... 2

OFFENSE

Pat Shurmur, coordinator …………......… 55 ....… 21

Mike Munchak, offensive line .….....…. 60 ....… 26

Wade Harman, tight ends ………........… 56 ....… 23

Mike Shula, quarterbacks …….........….. 55 .....… 28

Curtis Modkins, running backs ….....… 49 .....… 12

Zach Azzanni, receivers …………........... 44 .....….. 3

SPECIAL TEAMS 

Tom McMahon, coordinator .……...….... 51 .....… 13

Average ……………….…....……......……... 55 .....… 20

Credit: AP Photo/Adrian Kraus
Vic Fangio watches play from the sidelines during the second quarter of an NFL football game against the Buffalo Bills, Sunday, Nov. 24, 2019.

When John Elway celebrates his next birthday in June, the Broncos will have the NFL’s only general manager-head coach duo who are at least 60 years old.

In terms of pay and status, the top six coaches on any NFL staff are the head coach, offensive, defensive and special teams coordinators, and offensive and defensive line coaches. The Broncos’ top six of Fangio, Ed Donatell, Pat Shurmur, Tom McMahon, Mike Munchak and Bill Kollar will average of 59.7 years and 25.5 years of NFL coaching experience on opening day this season.

That’s easily the oldest and most experienced top end of an NFL coaching staff.

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A distant second in terms of age are the Andy Reid-led Chiefs. The Super Bowl champs will have a top-six coaching average of 54.8 years of age -- 5 years on average younger than the Broncos' top six coaches -- when their 2020 season opens on September 10 (when their defensive line coach Brendan Daly turns 45).

Credit: AP Photo/David J. Phillip
Travis Kelce, left, celebrates with Andy Reid after defeating the San Francisco 49ers in the Super Bowl 54 on Sunday, Feb. 2, 2020.

The Mike Zimmer-Gary Kubiak Vikings will have the next-most NFL coaching experience among their top six at 20.5 years.

(Note: The Bill Belichick-led New England Patriots are currently difficult to calculate because offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia, who turns 72 on Valentine’s Day, just retired, and special teams coordinator Joe Judge, who recently turned 38, became head coach of the Giants).

Compare the Broncos’ age and experience to that of Sean McVay’s Los Angeles Rams. Even with the experienced Aaron Kromer as offensive line coach, the Rams’ top five coaches on opening day this year will average 39.2 years of age and 8.6 years of NFL coaching experience. (The Rams still have to hire a special teams coordinator.)

Nothing exemplified the contrasting coaching philosophies between the Broncos and Rams this offseason than the case of Brandon Staley. He will be 37 years old and possess a mere three years of NFL coaching experience when the 2020 season opens on September 10.

The Rams hired the relatively young and inexperienced Staley away from the Broncos last month to replace defensive coordinator Wade Phillips, who brings 42 years of NFL coaching experience into his 73rd birthday in June.

Credit: Jeff Haynes/AP Images for Panini
Pat Shurmur watches his team play the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 22, 2019, in Tampa, Fla.

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The Broncos, meanwhile, replaced Staley as their outside linebackers coach with John Pagano, who turns 53 next month and brings 24 years of NFL season.

To review these switches, the Rams went 36 years younger and with 39 years less NFL experience at their defensive coordinator position while the Broncos went 16 years older and added 21 years of NFL coaching experience at their outside linebacker position.  

The Rams’ philosophy, a reflection of McVay who is still the NFL's youngest head coach, may be that a younger coaching staff would be more relatable to the millennial-era player. Kyle Shanahan blares music during his 49ers’ training camp practices; Fangio turns the music off after team stretch so he can get down to the business of coaching and teaching.

RELATED: Lock's development key to Broncos challenging Mahomes' Chiefs in AFC West

Credit: AP Photo/Elaine Thompson
Pete Carroll gives autographs to fans before an NFL football game against the Arizona Cardinals, Sunday, Dec. 22, 2019.

The Broncos' philosophy, a reflection of Fangio who is the league's sixth-oldest head coach, may be best shown through the lens of Super Bowl LIV. The younger Shanahan became demonstratively emotional on the sideline, perhaps losing his usual keen focus while becoming way too conservative at the end of the first half, and not conservative enough in the fourth quarter.

Old man Reid, meanwhile, remained stoic throughout while aggressively and successfully going for it on two fourth downs and calling the right plays while his Chiefs rallied for 21 points in a 5-minute span late in the fourth quarter.

Young Kansas City stars like Patrick Mahomes and Travis Kelce each said they badly wanted to win the game for Reid, evidence that you don’t have to be young to be relatable to the young.

Older can mean better

The average age and NFL coaching experience among the top 6 coaches (head coaches, three coordinators, two line coaches) on some NFL coaching staffs when 2020 season opens September 10:

Team ............ Head coach ..... Avg. Age ... Avg. yrs experience

Broncos ........ Vic Fangio (62) ........... 59.7 ............. 25.5

Chiefs ........... Andy Reid (62) ........... 54.8 .............. 20.3

Seahawks ...  Pete Carroll (68) ......... 54.6 .............. 18.4

Vikings ......... Mike Zimmer (64) ....... 53.2 ............... 20.5

Redskins ...... Ron Rivera (58) .......... 53.0 .............. 17.5

Bucs ............ Bruce Arians (67) ........ 53.0 .............. 16.6

Ravens ........ John Harbaugh (57) .... 52.5............... 14.3

*Rams ........... Sean McVay (34) ....... 39.2 ................ 8.6

*Note: Rams still need special teams coordinator so top 5 coach averages used; Not included are Patriots who have vacancies at offensive line coach and special teams coordinator, and Colts who need defensive line coach.

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