ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — NFL coaches understand what they signed up for.
The hours are brutally long and the security stinks, but it pays relatively well and there are far worse ways to earn a living than to hang around the game of football and help young athletes grow as players and men.
Football coaches know, too, that their team must win, or else. If the team doesn’t win the head coach goes and another truth to the job is that when the head coach goes, most of his coaching staff goes, too.
And so it is with the Broncos who after firing head coach Vic Fangio four weeks ago, also informed many of his assistants they have also been let go. Some good ones hit the coaching market Saturday as sources told 9News new head coach Nathaniel Hackett informed four of Fangio’s assistants – including tight ends coach Wade Harman and longtime defensive assistant Chris Beake – they would not be retained for the 2022 season.
Harman, 58, just finished his 25th season as an NFL coach, third with the Broncos. He earned two Super Bowl rings during his 15 seasons as tight ends coach of the Baltimore Ravens from 1999-2013. With the Broncos he helped bring along tight end Noah Fant from a raw first-round rookie in 2019 to one of the league’s top receiving threats who has averaged 57 catches per season over his first three years.
This past season, Harman battled prostate cancer, sometimes receiving treatments in the morning and still arriving in time for the start of training camp practices.
9NEWS has learned the Broncos are planning to interview former 49ers tight ends coach Jon Embree this week as a possible replacement for Harman's position. Embree attended Cherry Creek High School and starred at the University of Colorado where he also served as head coach for two seasons. Embree, who also had the title of assistant to the head coach the past four seasons with San Francisco, recently became available after he declined a 60 percent pay cut.
He has 13 years of NFL coaching experience, primarily at the tight end position.
Beake, 49, just finished his 9th season as a Broncos defensive coach and 23rd in the NFL. The son of longtime former Broncos’ general manager John Beake, Chris was part of the Broncos’ Super Bowl 48 and 50 coaching rosters. He was promoted to defensive passing game specialist prior to last season.
The Broncos also released two younger coaches in Mike Heistand, who served as assistant defensive line coach and assistant to Fangio the past three seasons, and Chris Cook, who after five years of coaching at the college level just finished his first NFL season as the Broncos’ offensive quality control coach.
Other Fangio assistants who have been told they won’t return are all three of his coordinators – Pat Shurmur (offense), Ed Donatell (defense) and Tom McMahon (special teams) – plus quarterbacks coach Mike Shula and inside linebackers coach Reggie Herring. Offensive line coach Mike Munchak was also told he’s not returning in his role. Donatell caught on with the Seattle Seahawks as a defensive consultant-type and McMahon has interviewed with Carolina and Las Vegas in recent weeks.
Hackett has hired former Packers tight ends coach Justin Outten as the Broncos' new offensive coordinator, former Vikings' offensive coordinator Klint Kubiak as Denver's new quarterbacks coach and passing game coordinator, and former 49ers assistant offensive line coach Butch Barry as the new offensive line coach. Embree would be another assistant coach steeped in the type of West Coast run blocking and pass protection schemes Hackett wants for the Broncos.
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