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Report: Dan Quinn & Nathaniel Hackett Emerge from First Wave as Broncos' 'Favorites'

It would seem that George Paton has eyes for two guys.

The Denver Broncos are taking the weekend to exhale after a whirlwind week of head coach interviews. GM George Paton, and his five-headed hiring committee, completed the 10th head coach interview on Friday — a sit-down with Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy. 

Unlike the Broncos' last hiring cycle, the last candidate interviewed doesn't appear to have leap-frogged all comers as Vic Fangio did back in 2019. Of course, that was when John Elway was the decision man for Denver. 

This time, the decision point comes down to Paton, even though Elway and team CEO Joe Ellis have been Zoom 'observers' during all 10 interviews. With so many candidates interviewed this time around, who has the edge? 

According to 9NEWS' Mike Klis, the same two names that entered the Broncos' head-coaching sweepstakes as the frontrunners 'figure' to remain in that pole position — Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator Dan Quinn and Green Bay Packers offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett. 

Here's what Klis said about Quinn's status: 

Cowboys’ defensive coordinator Dan Quinn figures to remain the favorite because of his previous head coaching experience and strong previous working relationship with Paton.

Don't sleep on Hackett, though. Klis included him at the top of Paton's wishlist after one interview. 

Green Bay offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett also figures to be among the top two to five candidates because of his previous play-calling experience in Jacksonville and natural head coach-type presence. 

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It's no coincidence that the two top dogs also bring to the table the best odds of recruiting a top-shelf veteran quarterback. For Quinn, that would be Seattle's Russell Wilson while for Hackett, it's Green Bay's Aaron Rodgers. 

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Klis hedged by mentioning a trio of other candidates who 'impressed' in the interviews. Dallas offensive coordinator Kellen Moore, New England LBs coach Jarod Mayo, and Philadelphia defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon all received high praise from whomever Klis' sources in Dove Valley are. 

Of that trio, the only candidate I could see garnering a serious second look by way of an interview is Moore, who coordinated the Cowboys' offense to No. 1 in the NFL this season (total yards and scoring). After the depredations of two failed first-time, defensive-minded head-coaching regimes, there's no way Paton could sell either Mayo or Gannon to the fan base. PR considerations play a part in this momentous organizational decision. 

If the finalists are in fact Quinn and Hackett — with Moore as the darkhorse — that's a formidable list of candidates to take over leadership of the Broncos. Quinn would be a retread after serving as Atlanta's head coach from 2015-20. 

Hackett and Moore would be first-timers but both hail from the offensive side of the ball and that's where the Broncos need to bridge the gap with the rest of the NFL. Who gets a second interview? 

Will Paton just make an offer and forego a second sit-down? I doubt it. But one factor in play here is Hackettt's availability. Both Quinn and Moore have been eliminated from the playoffs but Hackett's Packers will host San Francisco at Lambeau Field on Saturday night. 

If the No. 1-seeded Packers take care of business, it'll punch them a ticket to home-field advantage in the NFC Championship Game. From there, any success and the Broncos would be waiting upwards of three weeks before Hackett could even begin to focus on taking the controls in Denver. 

That might be enough to give Quinn the ultimate edge. All will be known in due time. 

Follow Chad on Twitter @ChadNJensen.

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