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How Zac Taylor stacks up to John Elway’s checklist

Zac Stevens Avatar
January 3, 2019

As the Broncos embark on their search for the next head coach, they will interview five different candidates for the job. On the day of each interview, we will grade that candidate based on the qualities John Elway is looking for. These are the interviews that have already taken place.

Wednesday: Chuck Pagano

Thursday: Zac Taylor

Zac Taylor


One day after interviewing an experienced, defensive-minded coach in Chuck Pagano, the Broncos talk to nearly the complete opposite type of candidate in Zac Taylor on Thursday in Los Angeles.

Not only is Taylor an offensive mind, he’s about as young as they come in regards to being a potential head coach.

At 35 years old, Taylor only has six years of NFL experience, joining the league in 2012 as an assistant quarterbacks coach with the Dolphins at the ripe age of 28.

Taylor dropped the assistant part of that title one year later and added offensive coordinator to his resume during the 2015 season. He took the same role with the University of Cincinnati in 2016 before moving to Los Angeles in 2017 to join Sean McVay’s staff with the Rams.

During his first season in Los Angeles, Taylor was the assistant wide receivers coach before moving to quarterbacks coach in 2018.

Taylor is the hot young name floating around the NFL, with many believing, or at least hoping, he can be the league’s next McVay, taking the league by storm with dynamic offensive play calling and a youthful passion.

Taylor played quarterback at Nebraska, being named the Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year in 2006 after throwing 26 touchdowns to only eight interceptions. He is in the Nebraska Hall of Fame for his accomplishments as a player.


John Elway identified four traits he is looking for in his next head coach. Here is how Taylor stacks up.

Greatness in their expertise: B+

Taylor has found success in every stop he’s had along his NFL journey.

Taylor was with Ryan Tannehill his first four seasons in the league. Outside of Tannehill’s rookie season, Tannehill had the best seasons of his career under Taylor.

Obviously, the Rams’ offense has been absolutely dynamite the past two seasons, but Taylor has been a few steps removed from controlling the productive group, so it’s difficult to gauge how much credit he should be given. But he certainly shouldn’t be docked for it.

Experience: D

Look, Taylor’s boss, Sean McVay, would have had a similar dismal grade in this category at the time he was hired by the Rams, too.

This doesn’t mean he can’t be an excellent head coach, as McVay has already proved, but since Elway stated he is looking for experience, Taylor simply doesn’t meet this criteria.

The head coach candidate doesn’t even have a single year of experience as a coordinator.

Ability to lead men: ?

Who knows.

Taylor has been highly regarded by his former players and the Rams’ organization, but he’s never been put in a situation to truly lead a group, let alone an entire organization.

So much about Elway’s interview with Taylor will be about determining Taylor’s potential — as both a football mind and a leader.

The “it” factor: A?

(Insert above answer).

Additionally, though, the fact that Taylor has garnered multiple interviews to be a head coach tells you there is a significant belief he does possess the it factor. The way members of the Rams have talked about him gives credence to this being true.

But again, Elway will need to identify this in his interview.

It’s clear it wouldn’t have taken long to see that McVay certainly possesses this.

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