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Published on 01/16/2013 at Wed Jan 16 09:26.
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Former Arizona Cardinals head coach Ken Whisenhunt was fired on January 1st, 2013. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Tuesday, former Denver Broncos offensive coordinator Mike McCoy informed the Broncos that he would be accepting the head coaching position with the San Diego Chargers. This coming just days after he called Denver the greatest place in the world to coach, also solidifying the second time in two years a Broncos’ coordinator left to coach another team in the same division.

Fandom was wild yesterday with the possibilities of who could be next up as offensive coordinator in Denver, there are in-house candidates: Adam Gase (quarterbacks coach) and Eric Studesville (running backs coach) and then there are two candidates who were head coaches last month: Ken Whisenhunt (former Arizona Cardinals head coach) and Norv Turner (former San Diego Chargers head coach), as well as the old guard Tom Moore (former Indianapolis Colts offensive coordinator).

So where does the team stand and who is the most likely to end up consulting with Peyton Manning for 2013:

The Front Runner:

Ken Whisenhunt
Player: Tight end – Atlanta Falcons (1985-88), Washington Redskins (1989-90) & New York Jets (1991-93)
Coach: Baltimore Ravens (TE) 1997-98, Cleveland Browns (TE) 1999, New York Jets (Special teams) 2000, Pittsburgh Steelers (TE) 2001-03, Steelers (Offensive coordinator) 2004-05, Cardinals (Head coach) 2007-12.

Pros: He is friends with Manning, a developer of tight ends and he’s able to squeeze productive extended life out of veterans (see: Kurt Warner). When Whisenhunt was hired by the Cardinals, he was also in consideration for a head coaching job with the Miami Dolphins, Falcons and Steelers. As a head coach he took Arizona from a 5-11 team to an 8-8 team, then to the Super Bowl in his second season as head coach (that Super Bowl trip included a victory over John Fox’s Carolina Panthers in the divisional round).

Cons: Whisenhunt was never able to recover from the retirement of Kurt Warner, with attempts at replacing him with Derek Anderson. Followed up with the debacle that was the 2011 and 2012 season at quarterback for the coach. That situation eventually led to his dismissal from the team.

Chances: Whisenhunt’s caution with the occasional lightening strike fits Fox’s philosophy very well, the Broncos are also set up perfectly based on a strong nucleus of players who came in under Josh McDaniels (whose intention was similar). I mentioned yesterday that Denver would need to make a strong statement on all levels in order to make next season super, signing Whisenhunt as offensive coordinator will do just that.

The Considered:

Norv Turner
Coach: Los Angeles Rams (WR) 1985-90, Dallas Cowboys (Offensive coordinator) 1991-93, Washington Redskins (Head coach) 1994-2000, San Diego Chargers (OC) 2001, Miami Dolphins (OC) 2002-03, Oakland Raiders (HC) 2004-05, San Francisco 49ers (OC) 2006, San Diego Chargers (HC) 2007-12.

Pros: Fans will know the work of Turner first hand, in Dallas he coached under Jimmy Johnson and won back-to-back Super Bowls (1992 & 93), coaching and getting credit for Hall of Famers Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith and Michael Irvin. He is also responsible for knocking the Manning led Colts out of the playoffs three times in his five years as head coach of the Chargers.

Under Turner San Diego employed Drew Brees, Antonio Gates, LaDainian Tomlinson, Darren Sproles, Michael Turner, Vincent Jackson and Philip Rivers. However, much like current Broncos’ defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio, the prospect of immediate future employment as a head coach is dim.

Cons: Turner has never been able to hold his ground when it came to player decisions and between Jimmy Johnson in Dallas and inheriting eleven Pro Bowlers in San Diego when he replaced Marty Schottenheimer, it is difficult to predict what may come if he is to have a long tenure as offensive coordinator in Denver.

Chances: Turner has already been linked to the offensive coordinator job with the Cleveland Browns, but this announcement was made public three days ago. On a personal note, I felt after this season’s final Chargers/Broncos that Turner was as good as signed as the offensive coordinator in Denver if/when Mike McCoy were to leave.

Tom Moore
Coach: Steelers (WR) 1977-89, Steelers (OC) 1983-89, Minnesota Vikings (Asst. HC) 1990-93, Detroit Lions (OC) 1994-96, New Orleans Saints (Running backs) 1997, Indianapolis Colts (OC) 1998-2008, Colts (Senior OC) 2009, Colts, New York Jets, Tennessee Titans (Offensive consultant) 2010-2012.

Pros: The successful connection with Manning goes without saying. Under Moore, Manning went 117-59, setting records for most passing touchdowns in a season (49), which was broken in 2007 by Tom Brady (50) and highest passer rating (121.1) in 2004.

Cons: Working with Manning, Moore’s playoff record was 9-9, it also took nine years for the tandem to win a Super Bowl. He has continued to work in the NFL since leaving the Colts in 2010, but at the insistence of working from home.

Chances: It is difficult to guess whether Moore is even interested in returning full-time to the NFL. When Moore left the Colts as the offensive coordinator, it was said to be due to changes to the NFL’s pension program. However, when Moore was being courted by the Titans, he replied that he would not be able to give Tennessee the commitment that it deserved.

The Long Shot:

Adam Gase
Coach: Detroit Lions (Offensive assistant) 2005 (Offensive quality control) 2006 (Quarterbacks) 2007, 49ers (Offensive assistant) 2008, Denver Broncos (WR) 2009-10 (QB) 2011-12.

Pros: Going back to 2007 Gase helped Jon Kitna to place sixth in the NFL in passing yards, in 2009 Brandon Marshall had his initial stand-out year, in 2010 he helped Brandon Lloyd become the first Bronco to lead the NFL in receiving yards. In 2011 he and McCoy were credited with the success of Tim Tebow.

Cons: Gase is in an interesting position with Manning (Gase is a year younger) and may be learning just as much as he is teaching. This could turn into an issue if Gase were to be given the reigns for the entire offense.

Chances: Gase may be on his way to becoming the offensive coordinator in San Diego under McCoy, he may choose to stay on as quarterbacks coach in Denver if he doesn’t. Either way, there are slim chances that he will be the offensive coordinator in Denver when the smoke clears.

The Dark Horse:

Eric Studesville
Coach: Chicago Bears (Offensive quality control) 1997-2000, New York Giants (Running backs) 2001-03, Buffalo Bills (RB) 2004-08, Broncos (Running game coordinator) 2009, (Interim head coach) 2010, (RB) 2010-present.

Pros: He has led nearly every running back he has coached to at least a 1,000 yard season: Tiki Barber, Willis McGahee, Marshawn Lynch, Fred Taylor and McGahee again (in Denver). He also has the brief experience of being a head coach in which he led Denver to a 1-3 record.

Cons: Other than the brief experience he had has interim head coach, he does not have experience controlling an entire offense.

Chances: His loyalty to the Broncos is due to be rewarded sometime. He stayed on board following his stint as interim head coach and his pedigree of success coaching running backs is neck and neck with anyone. He is listed as a dark horse, but I can see someone in the Denver organization pounding the table for him.

Though it is likely that if Denver were able to get Whisenhunt under contract, the team will be looking for an offensive coordinator in the very near future… It is also likely in my opinion that whomever may be the next man in Denver is simply a place holder until Gary Kubiak becomes available. That’s just me though, maybe.

  • Toxik Zine

    How ironic would it be to get Norv as a OC? Maybe not such a bad idea, as much as Bronco fans don’t like him, he knows his O and wouldn’t be so conservative as McCoy.

  • Jon

    I didn’t realize Norv was still available, I thought he went to Cleveland or something. Anyway, I wouldn’t be apposed to him.

    And here’s what Tom Moore told Jim Wyatt of the Tennesseean (via PFT):

    “I’d like to get a job as an offensive coordinator in the National Football League. I don’t know if that is going to transpire or if that is going to happen, but that’s what I want to do. I don’t want it to be a deep, dark secret,” he said. “If it doesn’t, I certainly haven’t been cheated, but that is what I would like to do. Anyone that’s open, I’m interested.”

    Oh! Oh! Oh! Mr. Moore, Mr. Moore, we have an opening!

  • Gary_in_SD

    The enemy is after any secrets they can get on the Broncos, maybe it makes sense to do the same.

  • Benjamin DeRita

    Kubs back in Denver!

  • Doom92

    Nice article Draper… I’d rather see Norv or Ken over Tom Moore. IF he could last a whole year it would be Indy all over again. Loosing in the Playoffs again not with standing Peyton just had one of his best years playing and it wasn’t under Tom Moore, I think the change has dome him well and Ken or Norv would help him flourish even more. Of course either would have to be OK with sharing with Peyton, not running Peyton!!!

  • Doom92

    Hopefully, eventually!