If you had to explain how the Broncos’ season went from gallons of hype and hope to whatever it is now to a person who doesn’t like football, how do you start? Do you talk about Russell Wilson’s arrival You can discuss Wilson’s five-year, $245 million extension without him having played a single snap?
Or how about the fact that this team once again proved to be one where the defense does all the work, while the offense just limps to the finish line week in and week out?
But no, let’s talk about Nathaniel Hackett and how he managed to go from being one of the best offensive coordinators in the league to being cut from his job as head coach of the Broncos before the end of his first season on the job.
After a 4-11 record, and a crushing 51-14 loss to the Rams on Christmas Day, which saw the team implode, Hackett’s time with the Broncos was more than over. He was never able to have control of the locker room. His efforts to try and make Wilson and his offense congeal were nowhere close to successful.
And for a team that entered the season as potential Super Bowl betting dark horses, Hackett’s tenure will go down as one of the worst in recent times in the league.
With the Broncos moving forward for the time being with Jerry Rosburg at the helm, who should Denver be looking at as potential coaching candidates for the future?
The Obvious Choice: Sean Payton
Ask any GM in the league about former Saints head coach Sean Payton, and you’ll probably hear wonders left and right. While there are teams like the Colts and Cardinals interested in trying to lure the FOX NFL analyst back into the league, the job with the Broncos might end up being the best fit for Payton.
If he would want to return to coaching, with Denver Payton would have a team with one of the best defenses in the league, aside from the debacle against the Rams. He would also have a veteran QB in dire need of a coach that knows what it’s like to play on the biggest stages.
Both Wilson and Payton have a Super Bowl title on their resumes, and the former Saints HC knows how to work with a veteran passer. Look at his tenure with Drew Brees for example. Now, no, I’m not comparing Brees to Wilson but you can’t deny that with the right help, Wilson and the Broncos could see the light of day.
The Intriguing Option: Shane Steichen
What if all the Broncos needed was a coach who could put their offense on their heads and kickstart a whole new era of offensive football in Denver? If that were the case, then going with Philadelphia’s OC Shane Steichen might be the best way to go.
At 37, Steichen is in his second season as offensive coordinator for the Eagles, and what has he done in those two years? He managed to take a broken-down Philly offense and make it one of the best units. And before that? He was the mastermind behind helping Justin Herbert win the 2020 OROY award in his time as the Chargers’ OC.
Steichen might not have the coaching pedigree the Broncos want, but if the option came up, it would be dumb not to think about it at least for a second. Give him Denver’s offense and surround him with a strong DC and the Broncos could have a winning formula.
The Second Chance Man: Dan Quinn
If you were to judge Dan Quinn’s career based on what happened in Super Bowl LI, then take a second, breathe, and don’t be such a horrible person. Quinn’s career in the pros has been one that has seen him make rounds around teams like the 49ers, Dolphins, Jets, and Seahawks, all as defensive line coach and defensive coordinator.
It was in 2015 when Quinn took over the Falcons coaching gig that his career as a head coach began. With 43 wins and 42 losses over five years, including that trip to the Super Bowl that we shall not recall, Quinn’s tenure with the Falcons came to an end in 2020.
Now though, in his current job as defensive coordinator for the Dallas Cowboys, Quinn’s name has begun to rise in the coaching rumors lists once again. The former Falcons coach has managed to make Dallas’ defense one of the best in the league, with players like Micah Parsons and Trevon Diggs.
In favor of Quinn are the facts that he already knows what it’s like to work with Wilson from his days as Seattle’s DC, as well as already having proven head coaching experience.
Trying to get him out of Dallas though will be a whole other battle for Denver to deal with.
The Defensive Stud: DeMeco Ryans
You might remember DeMeco Ryans from his days as a Pro Bowl linebacker for the Texans. Wait, who am I kidding? Who remembers Texans players? Anyways, how you might recognize Ryans is his job as defensive coordinator for the San Francisco 49ers, aka the best defense in the league.
With Ryans, this team would get a true-born leader, something that the Broncos need desperately. He’s the kind of coach that players listen to and follow into battle, with is clear from watching San Francisco’s defense in action. And with the Broncos having one of the best defenses around, he could once again make Denver one of the most feared squads in the AFC.
While the Broncos would have to look hard to find a suitable OC to back him up, just like Steichen, Ryans might just be an intriguing option that could work out wonderfully.