As the group of five Denver Broncos executives, led most notably by general manager John Elway, interview three candidates to replace Gary Kubiak as the new head coach, many questions will be asked to each of them. From how will they go about jumpstarting the offense, to how they will keep the defense dominant.
Additionally, each candidate will most likely be asked what, if not who, their coaching staff would be comprised of. While there is typically massive turnover within a coaching staff when a new coach takes over a team, many believe that current defensive coordinator Wade Phillips deserves to be back after what he has done with the Broncos’ defense the past two seasons.
Although it is certainly possible that Phillips returns, there is also a chance that the new head coach decides to go in a different direction. Here is a look at the potential offensive and defensive coordinators for all three candidates that the Broncos have, or will, interview.
Dave Toub, Kansas City Chiefs special teams coordinator
Offensive coordinator: Mike McCoy, former San Diego Chargers head coach
If Toub were to be hired, he would be joining a small list of coaches to be named head coach based on a special teams background, most notably Bill Belichick and John Harbaugh. Toub could follow in Harbaugh’s footsteps yet again in the hiring of his offensive coordinator.
In 2008, Harbaugh’s first year as head coach of the Baltimore Ravens, he hired veteran coach Cam Cameron as his offensive coordinator. Cameron was coming off a year in which he was fired as the head coach of the Miami Dolphins after five successful years as the offensive coordinator of the San Diego Chargers.
Much like Cameron, McCoy was just fired from his first NFL head coaching experience after being a successful offensive coordinator in Denver from 2009-2012. Toub would be handing over the struggling Broncos offensive to a veteran, savvy offensive mind.
Defensive Coordinator: Wade Phillips, current Broncos defensive coordinator
As an experienced coach in the NFL, Toub knows a thing or two about the league, specifically, if you find a good coordinator, you don’t let them leave. And that’s just what he would do with Phillips.
Even though the defense regressed against the run in 2016, the defense was still dominant, leading the league in pass defense by a long shot. Additionally, Toub would understand how much the players not only enjoy Phillips, but how they would lay their bodies on the line for him every game.
Keeping Phillips on board would also be following in Harbaugh’s steps as he retained, then, current defensive coordinator Rex Ryan when he took over the Ravens.
If Toub were to look another direction for defensive coordinator one name that would come up is Bob Babich, San Diego Chargers linebackers coach. Babich has not only been a defensive coordinator for six years in the NFL, he and Toub were fellow coaches on the Chicago Bears from 2004-2012.
Kyle Shanahan, Atlanta Falcons offensive coordinator
Offensive coordinator: Matt LaFleur, Atlanta Falcons quarterback coach
LaFleur would likely be on the next flight out of Atlanta to Denver if Shanahan is hired as the next Broncos head coach. However, LaFleur following Shanahan wouldn’t be anything different than what has happened in the past. Since 2008, when they were both members of the Houston Texans offensive coaching staff, the two have been on the same team every year but one (2014).
As the offensive coordinator of the Washing Redskins, Shanahan promoted LaFleur to quarterbacks coach, then, in 2015 when Shanahan took over as the Falcons offensive coordinator, he brought LaFleur in again as his QB coach. If Shanahan is hired as the head coach, it would make a lot of sense for him to promote LaFleur to be his offensive coordinator.
In their seven years working together, the two have produced three All-Pro quarterbacks including Matt Shaub and then-rookie Robert Griffin III. The duo’s main task in Denver would center around developing the two young quarterbacks.
Defensive coordinator: Wade Phillips
The only aspect that doesn’t make sense about this is time. The longer it takes for Shanahan to be hired, the more opportunities Phillips will have to leave Denver before Shanahan could even extend an offer.
While it seems that Phillips is willing to wait a certain amount of time for the Broncos to choose a new head coach, if Atlanta stays in the playoffs after this weekend’s divisional-round game against the Seattle Seahawks—they are a five-point favorite—Phillips may have to grab another job.
If Phillips is still available if and when Shanahan is hired, he makes perfect sense to stay on board and lead the defense. While Shanahan’s potential hire would be to clean up the offense, Phillips would be allowed to control the defense, just as he has the past two seasons. At Kubiak’s retirement press conference, Elway stated that he wants to keep the defense great and keeping the same defensive coordinator would a sensible step in that direction.
Additionally, Phillips, 69, would provide veteran leadership and wisdom to the first-time head coach Shanahan, 37.
Vance Joseph, Miami Dolphins defensive coordinator
Offensive coordinator: Mike McCoy
With reports already circling that Joseph would want to hire McCoy to take over the Denver offense, this move could be the most set in stone to happen. Besides the reports, however, this would make a lot of sense as well.
Joseph would be hired primarily for two reasons: to keep the defense great and for his leadership abilities. Nothing about Joseph’s hiring would have to do with revamping the offense and that’s why bringing in a veteran, successful offensive mind would be the best scenario for Joseph.
In his four years as offensive coordinator in Denver, McCoy worked with the likes of Kyle Orton, Tim Tebow and Peyton Manning at quarterback and found success with all three. His adaptability and proven track record with quarterbacks would be the perfect fit in Denver with Trevor Siemian and Paxton Lynch.
McCoy would want a homecoming to Denver because Joseph would give him the keys to the offense and let him run the show.
Defensive coordinator: Joe Woods, Broncos’ defensive backs coach
While there are conflicting reports whether Joseph would keep his former mentor Phillips as his defensive coordinator or promote budding defensive backs coach Joe Woods, the nod right now goes to Woods.
Even though Joseph, as head coach, wouldn’t entirely control the defense it would still be his defense. That would be more difficult to do with Phillips, and his 39 years of NFL coaching experience, than it would be with 46-year old Woods, as it would be his first year as a defensive coordinator.
Although the defensive players said they “prayed” Phillips would stay their defense coordinator, Woods would be one of the only hires that would satisfy the players if Phillips was not retained.