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Broncos Assert New Head Coach Hire Will be Solely GM George Paton's Decision

Who's calling the shots when it comes to the new head coach in Denver?

When you consider the fact that Denver Broncos GM George Paton never appointed Vic Fangio in the first place, firing the head coach after a 10-loss season is hardly surprising. Few in Broncos Country will shed many tears for the gruff 63-year-old coach; especially after Fangio was quick to say that he wouldn’t have to wait long for alternative employment as he departed.

Rest assured, Fangio's forthcoming paychecks won’t be as bulky when he slides back down the coaching ladder to his more customary coordinator role. That being said, there were no hard feelings at Sunday's press conference, when Broncos CEO Joe Ellis took the time to tell the wider reaches of the fan base that Paton would undoubtedly be calling the shots on who will replace Fangio.

“This decision will be his decision,” Ellis said. “He has full authority over the search, and he will make the decision as to who will be our next head coach.”

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Some could argue that after a year of transitional settling-in, the GM has now made his most important power play. Disappointingly, the fans had to suffer through a lame-duck season under Fangio before wholesale changes could be made, but Paton insisted everyone will be analyzing their own performances in order to make improvements.

“Looking ahead—obviously, there’s a lot of hard work to be done,” Paton said on Sunday. “I do feel [like] we made some strides. There’s a foundation in place, but there’s a lot of work to be done and we’re not satisfied. We’re going to take a critical look at every aspect of our football operation.”

While the 7-10 record tells its own tale, the top job in Denver should still prove extremely attractive to any potential candidate. The Broncos could be just a quarterback away from contending for a Super Bowl, and the ammunition Paton has stockpiled should make taking the job a juicy proposition.

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“With the foundation we have, we have 11 picks [in the 2022 NFL Draft], we have over 50 million in cap room, and we have great resources with Joe Ellis and [President of Football Operations] John [Elway], and we have the best fans in the NFL,” Paton said. “We know we’re going to get the best candidate on the market. We’re really confident of that.”

Six years have passed since the Broncos last made the playoffs. For that to change, it’s going to require much stronger leadership from the next head coach. Paton explained that having previously gone through the head-coaching hiring process with the Minnesota Vikings, it should poise him for the task in Denver. 

“With the Minnesota search—the one search I was on the front end-is [to] be very thorough,” Paton said. “Take your time. You don’t need to be in a hurry. There’s a lot of really good, quality candidates. It’s really important to talk to them all.”

So far, Paton has been true to his word as the Broncos have already reportedly requested interviews with six candidates. The last time Denver went through a hiring cycle, Elway interviewed five candidates in 2019 and only three in 2017. 

Follow Keith on Twitter @KeithC_NFL.

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