The Denver Broncos will likely be looking for a new head coach once the 2023 offseason hits. There is a clear trend that should aid during the search. Many teams across the NFL have tried a recent trend which was sparked by the Los Angeles Rams’ quick success with Sean McVay.
McVay’s immediate success prompted other teams to try and find the next great offensive mind. A plethora of teams went this route, perhaps trying too hard to find the next great head coach. Zac Taylor, Matt Rhule, Matt LaFleur, Matt Nagy, Kliff Kingsbury, Nathaniel Hackett, Kevin O’Connell, etc.
That young, offensive mind trend has become commonplace in the NFL now. Obviously the league has now shifted more towards being an offensive centric league. Teams are putting a higher priority on the offensive side of the ball and aren’t settling with their quarterback situation.
If a team can do this the right way, they’ll likely set themselves up nicely for the future, but the variables in taking this path are hard to ignore. Head coaching in the NFL is extremely hard, and is even harder for a first time head coach.
The Broncos tried their hand at this when they hired Nathaniel Hackett, who was the Green Bay Packers’ offensive coordinator from 2019-2021. Aaron Rodgers won back to back MVP awards in 2020 and 2021 which led many people to believe that Hackett could be the next great head coach in the NFL.
However, his tenure thus far has been nothing short of a disaster, and it looks like George Paton made an all-time bad hire. There is a clear trend that the Denver Broncos have followed with their last three head coaches and a clear trend they followed with the previous three before them.
Vance Joseph was hired in 2017 and lasted two years on the job. It was his first head coaching opportunity. Vic Fangio was hired in 2019 and was fired after his third year and three losing seasons. That was his first head coaching gig.
Nathaniel Hackett looks like he could be fired before the end of his first season. He is in his first head coaching gig with the Broncos. Now, who were the Broncos’ head coaches before Joseph, Fangio, and Hackett?
Well, Gary Kubiak was hired in 2015 and was the coach for two seasons in Denver. He stepped down after the 2016 season but was 21-11 in his two seasons. He also was able to guide the team to a Super Bowl title.
He was in his second head coaching stint.
Who was before Gary Kubiak? John Fox was the head coach in Denver from 2011-2014. During those four seasons, he won nearly 72 percent of his games in the regular season and led the team to the playoffs in each of his four seasons at the helm.
Who was the coach before John Fox? Josh McDaniels was, and that was his first head coaching opportunity. He was fired after about a year and a half, finishing with an 11-17 record. Who came before Josh McDaniels?
Mike Shanahan, who was, you guessed it, in his second head coaching gig with the Broncos. Now, you may be thinking that yeah, all of Kubiak, Fox, and Shanahan had the benefit of a legitimate franchise quarterback, and neither Joseph nor Fangio did not.
The jury appears to still be out on Russell Wilson. My point here is that I do not think this is a silly coincidence. Hiring a proven commodity as the head coach in 2023 instead of another coach who’d be given their first head coaching gig is the way to go.
Frank Reich, Dan Quinn, Leslie Frazier, Doug Marrone, Sean Payton, or even someone else who could get fired might make more sense than hiring a first timer.