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Published on 01/07/2011 at Fri Jan 07 15:39.
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As Jim Harbaugh nearly turned into the Brett Favre of coaching before finally accepting the head coach position with the San Francisco 49ers, the one question at the top of Broncos fans minds is still nowhere near close to being answered:


Former offensive line coach Rick Dennison (R) of the Denver Broncos talks with offensive guard Chris Kuper #73 of the Broncos as they face the San Diego Chargers during NFL action at Invesco Field at Mile High on November 22, 2009 in Denver, Colorado.  (Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

Former offensive line coach Rick Dennison (R) of the Denver Broncos talks with offensive guard Chris Kuper #73 of the Broncos as they face the San Diego Chargers during NFL action at Invesco Field at Mile High on November 22, 2009 in Denver, Colorado. (Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

So far, we have seen Harbaugh’s hat thrown in and then out of the ring, Falcons offensive coordinator Mike Mularkey cancel his interview, and then interim coach Eric Studesville and Giants defensive coordinator Perry Fewell schedule interviews for Sunday.

That’s not exactly what I would call a stellar group to choose from.

Still, there is hope. Executive Vice President of Football Operations John Elway has made it known that he prefers someone who either has previous head coaching experience in the NFL or is an ‘up and coming’ assistant and/or coordinator.

Fewell served as interim head coach for the Bills last season and Studesville coached the final four games for the Broncos this year.  Neither one really turned heads in their audition periods and both don’t seem likely to get the job in the end.

Thus, I submit two names for Elway’s approval.  One he coincidentally mentioned today that he would talk to and another that I really think Elway SHOULD talk to.

Those names are Houston Texans offensive coordinator Rick Dennison and Texas A&M head coach Mike Sherman.

Yes, both are offensive minded coaches and a fair share of the Broncos woes lay on the other side of the ball.  Still, they do have Tim Tebow to develop and need a coach with a strong record of working with quarterbacks.

Let’s take a look at Dennison first.

This man is no stranger to Broncos fans.   Dennison was an assistant with the Broncos dating all the way to 1995 and served with the team until Mike Shanahan was dismissed following the 2008 season.  He started as an offensive assistant in 1995 and 1996, coached the special teams from 1997-2000, coached the offensive line from 2001-2005 and was offensive coordinator from 2006-2008.

Oh yeah, and Dennison was also a linebacker with the Broncos from 1982-1990.

Elway knows the man quite well.  He worked with him as a player and knows his capabilities as a coach.  The chemistry between the two men should return rather easily.

But what about Tebow? Well, until he was traded to Chicago, Jay Cutler was a budding superstar under Dennison and the Broncos offense was always one of the best in the game.  Some of this credit obviously has to go to Shanahan but Dennison was far more than a figurehead on the coaching staff.

In Houston, Dennison turned Matt Schaub into one of the league’s elite passers after he came over from the Atlanta Falcons.  Tebow has all the intangibles a coach dreams of and also has a lot of God-given athletic ability. A pairing of Dennison with the now second year Broncos quarterback seems to be a match made in heaven.

All that said, there are still some downsides to making Dennison the man in Dove Valley.

Even though he played linebacker, he has never coached on the defensive side of the ball.  He would need a VERY strong defensive coordinator to help turn the Broncos’ unit around and with Wade Phillips ironically now in Houston, there are not many strong candidates out there save maybe Mike Singletary.   The Broncos also could try and get Dom Capers away from the Green Bay Packers, but it sounds like coach Mike McCarthy is hell bent on keeping the defensive staff together and who can blame him?

Dennison is also lacking head coaching experience that Elway said would be preferred in the Broncos’ next head guy. He’s been the offensive coordinator under two offensive minded head coaches.  Gary Kubiak and Shanahan both called the plays in Houston and Denver respectively, and Dennison would likely be doing the play calling himself in Denver. Would he be up to the task?

Now let’s take a look at Sherman.

Yes, Sherman is a college coach but let’s not forget he coached the Green Bay Packers for six seasons with the Packers ending up in the postseason in four of them.  Sherman is an experienced play caller and also ironically served as offensive coordinator under Kubiak in Houston before taking the head job at Texas A&M.

Some say Sherman’s success in Green Bay came as a result of having Favre under center.  That’s all well and good, but the cast around Favre was not much better than average and Sherman was able to get all he could out of them.  Favre too had a unique talent of getting the best out of average players, something a certain Broncos quarterback also did in his time at Florida.

As someone who lives in Wisconsin, I can tell you firsthand how often Sherman talked about the Packers tradition and the history of the franchise and how he wanted his teams to fit in with those great teams of the past.  After listening to Elway’s introductory press conference and hearing him talk about how he wanted the organization to go back to how it was and to once again embrace the winning tradition that was established before McDaniels arrived, it immediately reminded me of Sherman.

In Green Bay, Sherman had the dual role of general manager and head coach for four years and while the team’s record was outstanding for four years, his botched draft picks that included such busts as Jamal Reynolds and Ahmad Carroll that the team eventually had to bring in Ted Thompson to replace Sherman as GM to pick up the pieces.

Would Sherman want the same dual role in Denver? Not likely. His recruiting skills at Texas A&M have been under scrutiny the last couple years and it seems like Sherman is much better off just coaching the team.

Like Dennison, Sherman also has his drawbacks.  He too would need a strong defensive coordinator at his side.  Sherman’s defenses in Green Bay collapsed at the worst possible time preventing his otherwise talented teams from reaching their full potential.  Sherman prefers the 4-3 and with Denver running a 3-4 currently and with personnel currently equipped to run it, he might need to change his philosophy on the defensive side of the ball to work in Denver.

Of course, this is all speculation at this point. I have complete faith in Elway, general manager Brian Xanders and owner Pat Bowlen to make the right choice for the Broncos going forward.  They learned a painful lesson with the messy Josh McDaniels era and I believe they can and will return the organization to the standing it had before McDaniels took the job.

There are obviously other candidates out there.  Jon Gruden may finally decide to return to coaching and he would look very attractive to a team with a talented but raw young quarterback.  Bill Cowher is still out there, but his demands for final say over the roster like will keep him out of Denver.  Then there’s the always silent “mystery candidate” that no one talked about that ends up getting the job.

So who will it be for the Broncos? I have no idea.  I’ve given a few suggestions here but it is up to Elway and Co. to make the decision.

Stay tuned Broncos fans. The fun is just beginning.

  • Doom92

    Just read on SI that Elway will be interviewing John Fox… This would be the best Hire they could make in my opinion, hopefully they will agree…lol. :-)

  • Rcsodak

    Marty S-You're kidding, right? Denver doesn't need regular season wins ONLY, but Playoff wins! Besides, the old geezer says he's not coaching again.
    Stoops-Sooner for life.
    Mularkey-has NOT said “no thanks”. What a moronic statement.
    Ryan-NO HC experience, and has NEVER had the results of his brother.
    BSchottz-What, exactly, has he done? Oh wait, his last name is the same as ….yeah….. :rolleyes:

  • Rcsodak

    In case you didn't know, Billick was a OFFENSIVE COORDINATOR, and NOT a defensive coordinator. He was the initial 'mastermind' (before shanny was) with the Vikings.
    Singletary has NEVER run a defense. He was the LINEBACKERS COACH. Wanna know how that would work out? See Denver Broncos, 2010, Defensive stats.
    GWilliams has already been a HC, and failed at it. If you're into giving people 2nd chances so quickly, why not just bring McD back as HC only, and give him an actual GM and proven OC/DC!

  • Rcsodak

    McD as OC/Mangenius as DC = WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP!!!!!!

  • Doom92

    You are a moron yourself. I hate you asshats that name call on here. I bet you are the biggest pussy on here….

  • Rcsodak

    I wish they'd interview Capers for the HC position! He knows the 34D, and has been a HC. He's not exactly a spring chicken, so he could have a coach-in-waiting on his staff.

  • Rcsodak

    What are you, 12? I said the STATEMENT was moronic. But I'd like to change that now, to it being you. And way to be a hypocrite as well. lmao

  • anthony33

    Reply to vince-marine and areferee
    Good points back from both. Patience is definitely one of my virtures. And I do agree the principle of “hire slow, but fire fast”.

    My mention of Studesvile as HC was based on what I think is a huge money issue for PB and Xanders and Elway have tight budget.

    I'll give Elway time (like it matters) I just thinkg the idea of tweeting who you are thinking of interviewing is a little strange and does not happen in the real world. And agree, being open and honestly does come with the risk of looking silly at time.

    Lets just get this done (there's that patience thing again), get to draft and start training camp/

  • areferee

    Sometimes you talk more like a patient (the noun), rather than someone with patience. Look in the mirror before you start casting your “jokers” and “idiots” around here.

  • areferee

    He's too damn BIG to throw back! LOL!

    Not a bad choice for DC. Not sure he would make a lateral move.

    (Would Thunder have enough room to get by?)

  • Hope

    what are you crazzy fox sucks a,,.

  • Hope

    I say hire Dan Reeves back he is do for a super bowel win.Elway and dan Reeves reunion lol.I know they didnt get along but Elway is grown up now.

  • areferee


    No one remains a Head Coach in the NFL for eight years and compiles a winning record, and is as you describe him. He would bring stability to this organization, at a time when it is sorely needed.

    Here are three more names for the hopper:

    Jim Haslett
    Mike Nolan
    Dave Wannstedt

  • areferee

    …and Dan Reeves is OVERGROWN! He's 66 with a bad heart.

  • anthony33

    Okay, so now I am watching the pre game show on NBC and Peter King is on saying he talked to Elway last night and asked him if he thought Tebow was a good NFL QB. Elway's response, according to King, was NO.

    Obviously that can be taken a number of ways and with a grain of salt, as in did Elway say no, not yet or no, but I think he will be great or did he just flat out say no. With these pinheads on the tube looking for a story, you never know. King then went on to say how well the interview went between McD and the Vikings and went on about trading Tebow to the Vikes.

    So… tell me again it's a good idea for Elway to be opening up to everyone in the middle of a coaching search. Based on what King
    said 5 minutes ago, Elway now has to do damage control with Tebow. Whether he was misquoted, partially quoted, or if it was completely accurate and he does not think Tebow is the answer, he has now opened up a #10 can of worms. Remember McD and Cutler???

    My advice to Elway… STFU.

  • Kawike

    Or it could be the fact that over 2/3 of the team needs a major overhaul that a person with other options might not want responsibility for.

  • NMBronc

    I am ok with Fox, but none of the other three. Maybe Nolan….maybe.

  • NMBronc

    With media whores like Peter King, a grain of salt is always a good idea.

  • flbronc

    on the tweeting thing… i dont think it is so strange. i dont tweet, but the media and a lot of other fans do. what better way to let people know that you are not sitting on your butt than get information out fast. i cant think of a faster way than twitter- all the main media outlets watch it like hawks, and i would bet that there at least a few thousand bronco fans following as well. gm's and owners often say who they intend to interview or ask permission to interview, we're just the first one to employ twitter (at least to my knowledge).

  • flbronc

    i have a feeling tebow will react a little differently than cutler though. he really likes proving people wrong, not running from adversity.

  • areferee

    Not even as defensive coordinators?

  • areferee

    Here are Elway's most recent tweets: (Perhaps damage control)

    “To clarify my thoughts on Tim Tebow… I think he's a very good football player, and if anyone can turn themselves into a great QB, Tim can”.

    “(I) Myself and our entire organization think very highly of him. We are pleased with his first year as a Bronco”.

    “Any speculation that the Denver Broncos are considering moving Tim is completely false”.

  • TJ

    At least the Saints already lost today, effectively ending their season. Now Denver can pursue Gregg Williams sooner than expected.

  • Doom92

    I was totally pulling for the Saints but their Def couldn't stop a 7 win team hardly at all today, so is Gregg Williams really that great a commodity? Of course any given Sunday (sat in this case :-))…

  • flbronc

    arent haslett and nolan currently dc's? i am not sure they are up for lateral moves… especially nolan. i dont think i would want wannstedt.

  • Elyk

    I say go for Dennison as HC, given his skill set and history with the Broncos. What we need is not only a competent manager, but someone who understands the context and can get players fired up. Let's also not overlook the other important aspect here: the Broncos MUST draft really well and make superb trades and signings. In order to do that well you need a front office who can work together and who can trust each other. Dennison's relationship with Elway would almost certainly be an asset in that environment.

    All that said, I would also be thrilled with Rivera, and honestly Fewell might be good, too. A defensive-minded coach to usher in the new era of the orange crush!

    And just throwing this out there for further discussion fuel: the smart play is to wait and see on Tebow, since this is at least a two year rebuild for the team and it takes time to groom a rookie. In the meantime, revamp that defense, add a good OL and RB or two, and if by this time Tebow's a bust, THEN you go out and find your franchise QB. Also of note: don't forget that the Ravens won a SB with Trent freakin' Dilfer because they had a terrific defense and solid running game. Unless Tebow's an interception machine, he will probably be more than good enough to run the show.

  • glaxsnax

    All this talk of O'minded vs. D'minded…Rick Dennison is the best of both worlds! He is now ridiculed as an OC but am I the only one old enough to remember him PLAYING DEEEEFence. Not to mention he PLAYED in Denver. Not to mention he played college football at CSU. Not to mention that Elway will attend practices and GAMES to assist TT. What the hell is wrong with you so-called fans. Denver is DENVER aka Orange Crush aka Colorado aka 10 plus states of the ROCKY MOUNTAIN Region which Dennison is from (Montana) aka Elway. It's Elway's or the highway. If Dennison is dismissed for some “Contractor” it better be someone with more “Broncos Way”. Presently no one comes to mind.

  • glaxsnax

    Ron Rivera is a Bolt. He might as well be a Colt.
    he's given teams quite the jolt, but into a Bronco he will not molt.

  • glaxsnax

    The truth is out there. In Orange and Blue. Fox sucks #@&ocks.

  • Doom92

    I think Tebow will far surpass Trent Dilfer easily. With that being said it will take a long time to build our defense to equal what they had that year. Arguably the best ever. Keep in mind that while Rex Ryan by and large gets quite a bit of credit for The Ravens D, it had Marvin Lewis and Mike Nolan at the helm before even he was there. So would, excuse me, WILL any one be patient enough to not only bring Tebow along and wait while that caliber of defense is built?

    I, unfortunately, think not.

  • Doom92

    I think Tebow will far surpass Trent Dilfer easily. With that being said it will take a long time to build our defense to equal what they had that year. Arguably the best ever. Keep in mind that while Rex Ryan by and large gets quite a bit of credit for The Ravens D, it had Marvin Lewis and Mike Nolan at the helm before even he was there. So would, excuse me, WILL any one be patient enough to not only bring Tebow along and wait while that caliber of defense is built?

    I, unfortunately, think not.