Nathaniel Hackett is no longer the head coach of the Denver Broncos. Fans rejoice. Now, the team will need to assemble a list of candidates and go through a second head coaching search in as many years.
Perhaps the teams that need to undergo a head coaching search have their preferred list of candidates and have their top two or three choices. All of the factors that go into hiring a head coach and the entire process could leave teams not hiring their main guy.
For example, Josh McDaniels looked poised to be the next head coach of the Indianapolis Colts about five years ago before he backed out. The Colts then pivoted to Frank Reich. I do wonder if the Broncos were sold on Nathaniel Hackett being their top choice, or if they even had one.
The 4-11 Broncos could easily make the argument to move on from Hackett at the end of the year. Let’s say the team finishes 5-12; to me, that would give the owners every argument in the books to relieve Hackett of his duties.
If this does indeed happen, what would be the “best case scenario” coaching staff for the Broncos in 2023 and beyond?
Best case scenario for Broncos’ coaching staff in 2023
Head coach: Sean Payton
I do think that if we’re talking about the best possible case for the Broncos, it would include somehow being able to acquire Sean Payton, whose rights are owned by the New Orleans Saints. The team cannot simply hire Payton, they’d need to trade for him, and the team already has limited draft capital.
Sean Payton is a Super Bowl-winning, first-ballot Hall of Fame head coach with an offensive mind. He’s objectively one of the best to ever do it and would instantly propel the Broncos into a true contender.
Offensive coordinator: Brian Schottenheimer
The best case scenario for the team with their offensive coordinator spot would be to hire Brian Schottenheimer, who was able to bring out the best in Russell Wilson from 2018-2020 in Seattle. “Schotty” as I’ve seen him called, currently consults for the Dallas Cowboys.
He might be the key to unlocking what we haven’t seen in Russell Wilson in his first year in Denver. Sean Payton may also have to build his new staff from scratch a bit, as I’d assume that many of his assistants are still on the Saints’ staff.
Quarterbacks coach: Jim Caldwell
I have been semi-vocal about the Broncos’ need to get Jim Caldwell into their building in 2023. Not only does he have experience as a quarterbacks coach, but he’s been a head coach at two different stops in the NFL and has a winning record at both.
He’s also got connections with Peyton Manning, and if the owners want his input, I’d think that Manning would drop Caldwell’s name. He’s not a sexy hire, but he’s a respected veteran who has a long track record of solid coaching at the college and NFL levels.
Offensive line coach: Mike Munchak
This is an obvious one. Mike Munchak came over with Vic Fangio as the team’s offensive line coach when Fangio was hired in 2019. Munchak was able to oversee the breakout year for Garett Bolles in 2020 and kept the unit at a solid pace.
It’s clear that Denver does not have the most talented of players, but Munchak was able to squeeze the most out of them. Currently, Butch Barry serves as the team’s offensive line coach, and I’d argue he’s been the worst coach on the Broncos in 2022 by a significant margin.
It should be a priority for Denver to see if Mike Munchak has an interest in returning to the team in his same role.
Defensive coordinator: Ejiro Evero
Well, yeah, the best case for the defense is to keep Ejiro Evero around for another year. He’ll probably get a few head coaching interviews, but I don’t think he’ll quickly make the jump from position coach last year, to head coach just two years after that/
Evero’s calm demeanor has had ripple effects on the Broncos’ defense in 2022, which has kept the team in nearly every game. The defense is so good that if the Broncos were to score just 18 points in every game, they’d be 9-5 and firmly in a playoff spot.
The Denver Broncos have an underrated edge when it comes to the 2023 NFL head coach cycle. What is their huge advantage right now?
Evero will indeed be a head coach in the NFL one day, and hopefully not in 2023, selfishly.