ENGLEWOOD – John Elway zigged while the rest of the NFL zagged.
Perhaps, we shouldn’t have been surprised. Did you see Elway play quarterback?
The trend was to find the next Sean McVay, the wunderkind head coach of the offensively high-powered Los Angeles Rams.
And the Broncos’ did interview the Sean McVay 2.0 candidate in this year’s head coach candidate class in Rams quarterbacks coach Zac Taylor. But unlike virtually all the other NFL teams with head coaching openings to date, Elway didn’t hire the so-called offensive genius. He went old defensive genius in Vic Fangio.
“I’m not worried about the optics because the bottom line is we’ve got to win football games,’’ Elway said in a sit-down interview with 9News. “That’s what it’s all about. The game is evolving a little bit on the offensive side. That’s where a lot of people want to go, and we feel like we can get there, too, but also you win on the defensive side and you win by building from the ground up. That’s where we’re starting.’’
Here’s a look at what the eight teams did with their new head coach hires this offseason:
Team …….. Coach …….…….… Description
Packers ….. Matt LaFleur ….….. Young offense
Browns …... Freddie Kitchens .... Young offense
Bengals ….. Zac Taylor ……..…. Young offense
Cardinals … Kliff Kingsbury …… Young offense
Jets ………. Adam Gase…….... Young offense
Broncos … Vic Fangio ………. Old defense
Dolphins .... Undecided ……...... ???
Bucs …….. Bruce Arians ……... Old offense
In a league where Bill Belichick, Pete Carroll and Mike Zimmer have enjoyed their share of success (in that order), who knew old defense would become the unconventional head coach hire?
The Broncos and Tampa Bay Buccaneers are the only teams who went with an older coach. The Broncos and possibly the Miami Dolphins are the only teams who will go with coaches who had defensive backgrounds. Dallas’ Kris Richard and New England’s Brian Flores, young coaches who are still competing in the playoffs, are considered Miami’s top candidates.
Only the Broncos went with an older candidate (Fangio will turn 61 in August) with a defensive background.
“I wouldn’t necessarily call him old school because he’s evolved so much on the defensive side,’’ Elway said of Elway. “But his thought process of how you build a football team from the ground up with a foundation of fundamentals and discipline and accountability -- that’s why I think he’s a good fit for us.’’