Vance Joseph is as good as gone as Denver Broncos’ head coach, but a familiar face may be coming back.
A loss to the Cleveland Browns on Saturday night dropped the Denver Broncos to 6-8 on the season, complete with an iffy decision from head coach Vance Joseph to kick a field goal down four points with 4-5 minutes to go. Joseph will almost surely be fired after the season, and according to Pro Football Talk Mike Shanahan is being floated as a possible replacement.
Shanahan has been out of coaching since being fired by the Washington Redskins after the 2013 season. But the 66-year-old has suggested he’d coach again if the situation were right, and the Broncos may well be the only situation that fits that bill.
Shanahan and a possible return to the Broncos has apparently been on the radar before. Longtime Denver columnist Woody Paige reported Shanahan and general manager John Elway met about it a year ago, and Ian Rapoport of NFL Network backed that up. It appears Broncos CEO Joe Ellis weighed in on the matter, with the idea a full coaching search had to be done rather than just hand the job to Shanahan. It would have been a sham coaching search anyway, with only cursory obedience to the Rooney Rule and filler interviews, so Joseph got a second season.
Elway was of course the Broncos’ quarterback for back-to-back Super Bowl wins under Shanahan. Shanahan was also a Broncos assistant coach for the earlier chunk of Elway’s playing career, serving as wide receivers coach (1984), offensive coordinator (1985-87), quarterbacks coach (1990) and offensive coordinator again (1991). So the ties between the two are deep.
The Broncos only need to look at their division-rival in Oakland for the downside of hiring a buzz-worthy name who has been out of a coaching for awhile. Shanahan hasn’t been out quite as long as Jon Gruden was, but if he wants to add a fancy title that conveys the idea of personnel power Elway and the Broncos’ brass should tread lightly. For now though, Shanahan is easy to place on the list of candidates to replace Joseph.