DENVER — The next big decision for George Paton and his head coach search committee is not necessary to determine who the Bronco's next head coach should be, but whether to have a second round of interviews with two or three finalists.
The Broncos’ general manager is giving strong consideration to another round of interviews.
9NEWS has communicated with multiple sources involved with the Broncos’ head coach search and candidates and here is where it stands: Paton and his five-person search committee – director of player personnel Darren Mougey; executive director of football operations Kelly Kleine; contract/salary cup director Rich Hurtado; director of player development Ray Jackson and chief communications officer Patrick Smyth – returned home Friday night following an exhausting seven-candidate interview-in-four day schedule that took them to five cities across the country. It started Tuesday in Dallas, moved to Providence, R.I. and Philadelphia on Wednesday, Los Angeles on Thursday and Kansas City on Friday.
In all, Paton and his platoon interviewed 10 head coach candidates in seven cities with all in person except for Bengals’ offensive coordinator Brian Callahan, who meets the Tennessee Titans defense in an NFL Elite Eight playoff game Saturday afternoon.
Besides the search committee, Broncos’ chief executive officer Joe Ellis and football consultant John Elway observed most of the candidate interviews by Zoom and were available for questions near the end of the interviews. It figures the head coach candidates may have questions about the Broncos' ownership transition that is expected to part of the team's offseason.
But first, Paton and his posse will meet this weekend to discuss the next move regarding the hiring of the team's next head coach.
Cowboys’ defensive coordinator Dan Quinn figures to remain the favorite because of his previous head coaching experience and strong previous working relationship with Paton.
“There have been people who have had second chances who have done unbelievable stuff,’’ said Thomas Dimitroff, the former Atlanta Falcons’ general manager who helped hire Quinn as head coach in 2015 and together led the franchise to a near Super Bowl 51 victory in the 2016 season.
Indeed, count Bill Belichick, Mike Shanahan, Andy Reid and Gary Kubiak among second-chance coaches who found greater success with their second head coaching jobs.
“I think Dan can be a Super Bowl-championship winning coach,’’ Dimitroff said. “Knowing Dan, George’s personality would really jive with Dan.’’
Green Bay offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett also figures to be among the top two to five candidates because of his previous play-calling experience in Jacksonville and natural head coach-type presence. Oddly, a long postseason run by his Packers could work against him as Hackett possibly wouldn’t be available for another 3 weeks.
The interview process also helped a few longshots emerge as potential finalists like Cowboys’ offensive coordinator Kellen Moore, Patriots’ inside linebackers coach Jerod Mayo and Eagles’ defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon.
Moore is the only in-game play-caller among the six candidates from the offensive side of the ball. He is only 33 years old and youth and relative inexperience do carry risks. But his Cowboys also ranked No. 1 in total yards and points scored in 2022 so his upside may be greater than his risk.
Mayo has drawn favorable reviews throughout the league because of his strong leadership qualities, intelligence and player relatability. He also carries risks because of his relative inexperience as a coach.
Gannon has also only been a defensive coordinator for one year, but his energy, football knowledge and leadership qualities have impressed several teams during the interview process.
The Broncos also interviewed offensive coordinators Eric Bieniemy of the Chiefs, the Rams’ Kevin O’Connell and Callahan, Lions’ defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn and Packers’ quarterbacks' coach Luke Getsy, the candidate who most likely would have to take the biggest leap to head coach. Still, no one has been informed they have been eliminated.
Bieniemy was the 10th and final first-round interview for Paton's group Friday night at a Kansas City hotel. The right-hand man of Andy Reid's prolific and creative offense the previous four years and the biggest offensive star during Bill McMartney glory days at Colorado from 1987-90, Bieniemy has now had 11 head coach interviews around the league but is still waiting for a team for his chance at the top job.
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