ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — The biggest impediment to the Broncos’ head coaching search isn’t Russell Wilson, silly as that suggestion is. (Ask any head coaching candidate. They’d much prefer to take over a team that has Wilson as its quarterback rather than whomever the Colts have after Matt Ryan leaves or Carolina with Sam Darnold).
No, the No. 1 obstacle to the Broncos’ luring a quality head coach as evidence shows, the team only has second place to offer. As long as the Kansas City Chiefs have Andy Reid and Patrick Mahomes, the other three teams in the AFC West are battling for second.
See the AFC East that was dominated by New England’s Bill Belichick and Tom Brady from 2001-19 or the Peyton Manning-led Colts who took care of the AFC South from 1999-2010.
Emphasizing the Chiefs’ divisional dominance is they have won 14 games in a row against the Broncos, a streak so long it started when Manning was Denver’s starting quarterback in 2015. More than 7 years ago.
Kansas City, which is in a No. 1-AFC playoff seed battle with Buffalo, will try to make it 15 in a row against the Broncos this Sunday at Arrowhead Stadium.
“We’ve got a serious gap we have to close,’’ Broncos’ interim head coach Jerry Rosburg said Thursday. “Our opponent is clearly ahead of us. They haven’t gone through what we have gone through. So we need to close that gap and frankly I need to close that gap. I’m trying to get myself up to speed.”
The Broncos’ head coaches during the 14-game skid have been Gary Kubiak, Vance Joseph, Vic Fangio and Nathaniel Hackett. Kansas City’s head coach has been Reid through the duration of the streak.
Here are the quarterback records during that lopsided run:
Peyton Manning 0-1
Trevor Siemian 0-3
Paxton Lynch 0-1
Case Keenum 0-2
Joe Flacco 0-1
Drew Lock 0-4
Teddy Bridgewater 0-1
Russell Wilson 0-1
Alex Smith 4-
Patrick Mahomes 10-0
Luckily, Mahomes is already 27 years old. In other 10 years or so, he should be washed up.
Rosburg is the interim head coach in part because Denver’s defensive coordinator Ejiro Evero turned it down.
“I don’t want to get into too much of the details but this is not a situation any of us wanted to be in and we all agreed that the best thing for this team moving forward was for me to continue to work with the defense,’’ Evero said. “Fully invested there and I think that’s where I can have the best value for this team.’’
Evero is expected to be a head coaching candidate for multiple teams once the season ends in 10 days, including the Broncos. Denver general manager George Paton said Tuesday he hopes to interview Evero for the head job that came open with the firing Monday of Evero’s close friend Nathaniel Hackett.
“That’s always an ambition,’’ Evero said of one day becoming a head coach. “I would say most coaches strive to attain that position. But I’m not worried about that right now. Right now, I’m fully invested in this team. We’ve got two more games. We’ve got a great opportunity this week against Kansas City and that’s where my complete focus is at.”
While two of Hackett’s top assistants – special teams coordinator Dwayne Stukes and offensive line coach Butch Barry – have already been fired, other Broncos’ coaching assistants understand there will be more once the season ends. The way it works in the NFL, when the head coach goes, his assistants usually follow. Only defensive backs coach Christian Parker and receivers coach Zach Azzanni are position coaches still around from Fangio’s staff last year.
“You really can’t think about that,’’ said offensive coordinator Justin Outten. “That’s where I go back to the players. Opportunities are going to be there for us as coaches whether it’s high school or this league. The importance is the players. They’ve got to feel success. They’ve got to feel some sort of momentum from these last two games. They got to feel like they belong. And right now with the adversity we hit last week (a 51-14 loss to the Rams), this is a great opportunity for them to bounce back.”
Bill Mallory was the University of Colorado’s head coach from 1974-78, a period when his son Mike was 12 to 16 years old. Mike Mallory is now 60 years old and the Broncos’ special teams coordinator after he was bumped up from assistant following Stukes’ release.
“Lot of great memories,’’ Mallory said of Colorado. “Lot of great players, lot of great people. Yeah, University of Colorado had a lot of great teams (four winning seasons, two bowl teams in his dad’s five years). And then with my high school (Boulder Fairview) days with coach (Sam) Pagano we had good success there. That was a lot of fun.
“Yeah, they were great memories. When I got back here it felt really comfortable. You had a little pause because a lot has changed over 20, 30 years. But it’s been good to be back, it really has. I love being in Colorado, glad to be here and hopefully I’ll be here for a while.”
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