Wednesday, April 17

Ranking of the 6 best Broncos coach candidates to replace fired Vic Fangio


After three years in charge of the Broncos, Vic Fangio is retiring as Denver’s coach.

The Broncos announced that they had “parted ways” with Fangio on Sunday. The decision was made less than 24 hours after Denver’s 28-24 loss to the Chiefs on Saturday afternoon, which left the team 7-10 for the season.

“For the past three years, Vic has put his heart and soul into coaching the Broncos,” said the team president. Joe Ellis said in a statement. “I want to thank coach Fangio for giving his best effort to the organization from the day he was hired.”

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Fangio posted a 19-30 record during his three years with the Broncos. He never had a winning season and was unable to lead the team to the playoffs. Their defense often played well, finishing twice as a scoring unit in the top 10, but the team’s offense sizzled when a carousel of seven different quarterbacks began during Fangio’s tenure. That’s one of the main reasons Denver fired him.

As such, the Broncos will begin their search for a new coach and it should be an attractive place to land. They have a solid roster and just need to find a quarterback to become potential contenders in the AFC. Below are several coaching candidates who could help Denver do just that.

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Eric Bieniemy, Offensive Coordinator, Chiefs

Bieniemy has long been one of the buzzwords in the trainers market, and this may finally whatever the year you are hired as head coach. The 52-year-old has served as the Chiefs ‘offensive coordinator since Matt Nagy took over as Bears coach four years ago and has kept the Chiefs’ offensive machine running.

The Kansas City offense has consistently ranked as one of the top five units under Bieniemy’s supervision. They made it to two Super Bowls, winning one, and Patrick Mahomes quickly became the best quarterback in the NFL working with Bieniemy and Andy Reid.

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The Broncos can land a brilliant, offensive-minded coach at Bieniemy while taking a valuable resource from a division rival. That should make you one of the top candidates for this position.

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Jim Harbaugh, Head Coach, Michigan

Harbaugh, 58, is reportedly examining a jump back to the NFL after leading Michigan to its first college football playoff appearance. He has four years of experience as an NFL coach, and his .695 winning percentage (44-19-1 record) ranks fifth in NFL history behind Hall of Famers Guy. Chamberlain, John Madden, Vince Lombardi, and George Allen.

During his four-year tenure with the 49ers, Harbaugh led the team to a Super Bowl with Alex Smith and Colin Kaepernick at quarterback. He helped transform Smith from a bust to a solid starter, while Kaepernick recorded his best two seasons with Harbaugh.

Harbaugh’s track record in quarterback development is strong, and he himself has 14 years of experience as an NFL quarterback. Denver would certainly value both elements when considering Harbaugh. The only complication here could be his relationship with Fangio, who served as his defensive coordinator during his senior year at Stanford and during his four years with the 49ers.

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Dan Quinn, defensive coordinator, Cowboys

The Broncos aren’t guaranteed to go after an offensive-minded coach. That could be their lean, but they could also choose to bring in another defense coach first to keep their team’s strength in order.

Quinn might fit that situation. He has extensive experience as a defensive coordinator and head coach at the NFL level. He was one of the architects of the “Legion of Boom” for the Seahawks Super Bowl teams in 2013 and 2014. He later became the coach of the Falcons and led them to a Super Bowl appearance during the NBA playoffs. 2017 NFL. His performance declined during his last two seasons in Atlanta, but he still has a 43-42 career record as a coach and has reinvented himself with the Cowboys.

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Quinn, 51, took a Cowboys defense that ranked near the bottom of most defensive categories in 2020 and made it one of the top 10 scoring defenses. He helped bring Micah Parsons into the stop unit and coached Randy Gregory and Trevon Diggs to create a strong defense. Denver could rely on him to keep his defense playing well while he waited for an offensive coordinator change to jumpstart the offense.

When the Falcons got to the Super Bowl with Quinn, they had Kyle Shanahan, Matt LaFleur, Mike LaFleur and Mike McDaniel on staff. If Quinn can replicate those kinds of offensive personnel, the Broncos might be convinced to bring him on board.

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Bill O’Brien, offensive coordinator, Alabama

The end of O’Brien’s time with the Texans was not pleasant, but he has gained traction as a possible coaching candidate after spending time with Nick Saban in Alabama. O’Brien, 52, continues to show he’s a good offensive mind and has a good track record with quarterbacks. He helped turn Deshaun Watson into a strong starter and achieved a winning record in five of his seven seasons with the Texans.

O’Brien’s big mistakes in Houston came when he was in charge of staff. In Denver, George Paton would continue to have the last word on the list, so he could mitigate some of the risks of adding a guy like O’Brien. It would certainly help the team’s offense and maybe sell disgruntled Watson in a trade to Denver during the offseason.

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Nathaniel Hackett, offensive coordinator, Packers

So, you want to improve the quarterback’s possession, huh? Well why not take a look at Nathaniel Hackett? The Packers offensive coordinator has been in the NFL since 2013 with stops in Buffalo, Jacksonville and Green Bay. At each stop, he has improved the team’s quarterback game.

With the Bills, the 42-year-old Hackett helped make Kyle Orton look like a competent quarterback. In Jacksonville, Blake Bortles put together his best season with Hackett in 2017. With the Packers, Hackett has helped guide Aaron Rodgers toward a career revival as he won the 2020 NFL MVP (and may win the award again in 2021).

Hackett’s connection to Rodgers could also be intriguing, given the uncertainty surrounding the latter’s future with the Packers. If Rodgers demands a trade out of the Packers, Denver would certainly be interested in his services, and having Hackett could give them an edge over the competition to acquire him.

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Mike Zimmer, Head Coach, Vikings

Zimmer, 65, can look strange on paper. He’s very similar to Fangio in his old-school, defense-first mentality, so he wouldn’t represent much of a change from the now-former Broncos coach.

That said, Zimmer has a connection to Paton, who worked with the Vikings for 14 years before joining the Broncos. As such, Paton could interview him to see if he would fit in in Denver. Zimmer has a career record of 71-56-1 and has never finished a season with fewer than seven wins.

The Broncos defense would continue to play at a high level with Zimmer, but doubts would remain about the state of the offense. His name isn’t such a strong option for the Broncos for that reason, but don’t be surprised if you land an interview.




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