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Broncos' Top Options to Replace Vic Fangio as Head Coach

Here's the shortlist of top coaching candidates to succeed Vic Fangio if the Broncos don't turn the ship around.

When George Paton was hired as general manager, the Denver Broncos decided to stick by the current coaching staff. Vic Fangio and his staff are under a purported playoff-or-else mandate if they want to keep their jobs. 

Five weeks into the season, the Broncos sit at 3-2, but they still have a challenging schedule ahead. There's a lot of time left for the team and coaches to turn it around but the last two weeks have been disappointing and speak to the improbability of that happening. 

In back-to-back losses, the Broncos look unprepared and lackadaisical in their effort which falls on the coaches. Beyond that, all the coaches have shown multiple faux pas that have drawn a lot of criticism from fans and media alike. 

If the Broncos can't turn the ship around, Paton will be on the hunt for a new head coach. Who would be the top candidates? Here are five candidates for each position: head coach, offensive and defensive coordinator, and special teams. On top of that, I've identified a few position coaches the Broncos should look at keeping no matter what. 

Head Coach Candidates

Brian Daboll | Buffalo Bills | OC

Daboll is probably one of the hottest names in NFL coaching circles with what the Bills have done with QB Josh Allen. Daboll is in charge of that offense and has done an excellent job working his offense around Allen, rather than forcing the QB to fit his offense. It's likely Daboll ends up as a head coaching hire during this coming cycle, but where he lands is yet to be determined.

Greg Roman | Baltimore Ravens | OC

Like Daboll, Roman has done an outstanding job building his offense to fit the strengths of QB Lamar Jackson while also keeping his core offense. That's often the sign of a good coach, but adding to it is how Roman has adapted his offense for a variety of QB styles over his coaching career. While he may not be a young hotshot offensive mind at 49 years old, he's done an excellent job which will garner him consideration around the NFL for a head coach position.

Byron Leftwich | Tampa Bay Buccaneers | OC

There are questions about how much of the Buccaneers' offense is Leftwich and how much Bruce Arians, the head coach. But, based on interviews, a large part of it is Leftwich, specifically how he changed the offense up leading Tampa Bay to winning the Super Bowl after a slow start in 2020. Not only is he a former NFL quarterback, but Leftwhich also has a few years under his belt as a productive coordinator. 

Kellen Moore | Dallas Cowboys | OC

Moore is the young hotshot of the group at just 33 years old. He has been highly respected as an offensive mind for a few years now and plays a massive part in the Cowboys' offensive success. While there are some blunders, Moore does an excellent job with his play-calling more often than not.

Dennis Allen | New Orleans Saints | DC

While his past head coaching stint in Oakland was not very successful, Allen has likely grown and learned under Sean Payton in New Orleans. Allen's defense is typically always competitive, and he knows how to adapt to his personnel instead of trying to force a round peg into a square hole. Of course, there should be concerns about his growth, but with what's being said about him, it sounds like he has grown and will be more prepared for the job this time around.

Honorable Mentions: Leslie Frazier (Bills DC), Eric Bienemy (Chiefs OC), Jon Gannon (Eagles DC), Scott Turner (Washington OC). 

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Offensive Coordinator Candidates

James Urban | Baltimore Ravens | QBs Coach

If Roman gets a head coaching gig, Urban is the favorite to replace him as the offensive coordinator in Baltimore. The buzz has Urban on his way to a head coaching position sooner than later. He's been in charge of the development of Jackson and has produced excellent results so far. While there is a risk here, Urban has shown the ability to develop QBs, which is a position the Broncos have to figure out for the long term.

Mike Kafka | Kansas City Chiefs | QBs Coach

Kafka will end up as an offensive coordinator in the NFL. The only question is where and when. Denver could do worse than picking an apple from the Andy Reid coaching tree, which has put out some great coaches over the years. It would be a big step, but one that Kafka is believed to be ready to make.

Ronald Curry | New Orleans Saints | QBs Coach

Curry is a favorite to get an offensive coordinator position and has probably picked up a lot working under Payton. Curry has been with the Saints since 2014 and worked his way up from being an offensive assistant to a wide receivers coach, before getting to his current position. Of course, Curry would be best with an offensive-minded head coach and a veteran staff around him, but the payoff could be huge.

Shane Day | Los Angeles Chargers | QBs Coach

An up-and-coming offensive guy in the NFL, some have said Day will be quick to get an offensive coordinator job. It would be his first time as an offensive coordinator, so keeping a veteran staff around him would be best, which works with the Broncos' current position coaches on that side of the ball. Even if the Broncos go with an offensive-minded head coach, the new hire could be paired with Day and use that to develop Day as a coach.

Zac Robinson | Los Angeles Rams | Assitant QBs Coach

Working under Sean McVay, Robinson has probably picked up a lot about working with quarterbacks and calling plays to their strengths. Hopefully, Robinson won't have picked up all of McVay's habits, but that would be the risk with him. If Denver wants to get a young offensive mind who is quickly rising through the NFL ranks, Robinson would be the choice. 

Defensive Coordinators

Eric Washington | Buffalo Bills | D-Line Coach

The Bills have consistently been stout on the defensive line when Washington joined the staff over the last two years. His time as the defensive coordinator in Carolina didn't go so well, but they maintained a solid defensive line. This year, he has shown his potential as a defensive mind as he's been more involved on the defense, likely in preparation for a possible departure of Frazier.

John Butler | Buffalo Bills | DBs Coach

Head coach Sean McDermott is a brilliant defensive mind, but he knows how to delegate, and Butler has a lot to do with the success of Buffalo's defensive backs. In three of his four years with Buffalo, the defense has been a top-5 passing unit in all but 2020, where the Bills ranked 13th. He has done a good job bringing along multiple defensive backs as the Bills boast one of the best secondaries in the NFL.

Anthony Weaver | Baltimore Ravens | D-Line Coach/Run Game Coordinator

As the run game coordinator, his defense currently ranks as a top-10 run defense unit in the NFL. What will be held against him was his year as the defensive coordinator for a terrible Houston Texans defense. However, the Texans showed strength on the defensive line, which he specializes in, and could be worth the risk on a more talented defense.

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Adam Zimmer | Minnesota Vikings | Assistant DC/LBs Coach

There is an obvious connection with Paton as they were both with the Vikings together for a while. In addition, Adam is the son of  Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer and it is getting a lot of attention for a coordinator position. During his time with the Vikings, Minnesota has done a great job developing linebackers, and he has probably picked up a lot from his dad.

Teryl Austin | Pittsburgh Steelers | Senior Defensive Assitant/Secondary Coach

Austin is one of the better defensive minds in the NFL, though his time as a defensive coordinator wasn't super successful. While his defensive rankings with the Detroit Lions and Cincinnati Bengals weren't great, he did what he could with his talent. Austin could be worth the risk as some around the NFL have spoken about how he's getting attention for a promotion.

Special Teams Coordinators

Leon Washington | New York Jets | Assistant STC

While the Jets are a terrible team, their special teams' play has been good this season. Washington was a special teams player in the NFL as a returner and a running back. This would be a risk with 2021 being his first season as a coach in the NFL, but it could be one the Broncos need to make in order to finally improve special teams.

T.J. Weist | Baltimore Ravens | Assistant STC

Weist has only been with the Ravens for a few years, but they have consistently been one of the best special teams units in the NFL. However, how much of that is due to John Harbaugh and his background as a special teams coach? There has been growing respect for what Weist does and the belief he will get a promotion before too long.

Andy Hill | Kansas City Chiefs | Assistant STC

Every year, Dave Toub gets mentioned in head coaching circles but gets passed up. So why not look at plucking his assistant for what is typically an excellent special teams unit? Hill has only been with the Chiefs for a couple of years, but his work mentoring the punter and working return units is noticeable.

Robert Steeples | Minnesota Vikings | Assistant STC

While Steeples wasn't in Minnesota as a coach with Paton, he was there as a player in 2013. After retiring, Steeples was coaching high school football before becoming a Vikings assistant, and they do field a solid special teams unit. The connection Paton has with the Vikings does play a factor in Steeples making this list.

Phil Galiano | New Orleans Saints | Assistant STC

One good thing about Galiano is he has worked all three sides of the football, so there is a lot of understanding from him for general roster building and how special teams fit in. While he is only the assistant, the Saints' special teams haven't been lower than the eighth-best unit, and in 2021 so far, New Orleans is ranked at the top. He joined the Saints alongside Darren Rizzi in 2019 after the Saints fielded the 28th-ranked special teams unit. 

Assistant Coaches to Keep

Curtis Modkins | RBs Coach

There has been an improvement from the running backs under Modkins, and he is viewed as one of the better running backs coaches in the NFL. 

Zach Azzanni | WRs Coach

What Azzanni has done with the Broncos receivers in developing them has been outstanding. This isn't the type of coach you let go of unless it is for a promotion. 

Mike Munchak | O-Line Coach

While the Broncos offensive line is currently struggling, Munchak is a top offensive line coach. He is the type of coach you give the benefit of the doubt in a down year and let him keep working to develop players. 

Bill Kollar | D-Line Coach

Kollar is one of the top-3 defensive line coaches in the NFL and has developed multiple players for the Broncos. You hang onto him to keep developing the players under his purview. 

John Pagano | OLBs Coach

When you have talented coaches, you keep them, and Pagano is one of the best at his position and a former, long-time defensive coordinator. 

Reggie Herring | LBs Coach

The Broncos linebackers aren't the most talented, but the team always gets a lot out of them, and Herring is a massive reason for that. His teachings of the fundamentals for linebackers are huge points.


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Follow Erick on Twitter @ErickTrickel.

Follow Mile High Huddle on Twitter and Facebook.

Subscribe to Mile High Huddle on YouTube for daily Broncos live-stream podcasts!