The Broncos are casting a wide net in the search for Vic Fangio's successor.
How wide? According to NFL Network's Tom Pelissero, Patriots inside linebackers coach Jerod Mayo is a "name to watch" for Denver's head-coaching vacancy. Pelissero also floated Packers offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett and Cowboys defensive coordinator Dan Quinn as potential candidates to replace Fangio.
Mayo, 36 (in February), is completing his third season on Bill Belichick's staff, spearheading a position group that features former All-Pro Dont'a Hightower and leading tackler Ja'Whaun Bentley. As a collective, New England sports the league's second-best pass defense and fourth-best unit in total yards allowed per game.
The 2008 Defensive Rookie of the Year and career-long Patriot, Mayo has a unique feather in his cap related to his HC candidacy: playing for Belichick and coaching under Belichick — experience he hopes to convert into a big-seat gig.
"I definitely have aspirations to be a head coach... we have a great coach here in New England, but that is the goal," Mayo said last August, via NBC Sports Boston.
Broncos fans are leery of plucking from the Belichick tree following the disastrous Josh McDaniels experiment. Others believe the organization must hire an offensive-minded coach after failing with the defensive-oriented Fangio and Vance Joseph before him.
But Paton has no preference so long as he taps a natural leader of men.
“The No. 1 quality is leadership. We’re looking for someone to lead this entire organization, to lead this community, and to lead our players. That’s the No. 1 trait we’re looking for," Paton said in a Sunday, Jan. 9 press conference announcing Fangio's dismissal. "Obviously, we want the best football coach. I’m not worried about what side of the ball, and I’m not worried about a play caller. We want leadership. That’s our No. 1 priority.”
In addition to the aforementioned, Denver has been linked to several NFL assistants including Buccaneers OC Byron Leftwich, Bills DC Leslie Frazier, and Eagles DC Jonathan Gannon.
The hunt for the 18th head man in franchise history will begin in earnest — if remotely — on Black Monday.
"You prefer to be in person, but we’re going to do whatever it takes," Paton said. "We’re all accustomed to Zoom if we have to Zoom. We prefer to be in person, but we’re also looking at the health and safety of these coaches. [If] they’re in the playoffs, we’re cognizant of that. We’re really at the mercy of the teams and what they allow.”
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