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Players, Scouts & Youth: Takeaways from George Paton’s initial candidates for the Broncos’ next head coach

Zac Stevens Avatar
January 12, 2022

In his first time leading a head coaching search, George Paton has left no stone unturned. In the first 48 hours, the Denver Broncos requested permission to interview a whopping 10 coaches for the open job.

The initial candidates range from an experienced defensive coach to a 33-year old offensive coordinator. It’s safe to say Paton and his search committee have cast a wide net.

Here are the major takeaways from the initial 10 candidates.

Follow our coach search tracker for the latest updates here.

CANDIDATES

  • Jerod Mayo, Patriots’ inside linebacker coach
  • Dan Quinn, Cowboys’ defensive coordinator
  • Kellen Moore, Cowboys’ offensive coordinator
  • Nathaniel Hackett, Packers’ offensive coordinator
  • Eric Bieniemy, Chiefs’ offensive coordinator
  • Jonathan Gannon, Eagles’ defensive coordinator
  • Kevin O’Connell, Rams’ offensive coordinator
  • Aaron Glenn, Lions’ defensive coordinator
  • Luke Getsy, Packers’ passing game coordinator and QB coach
  • Brian Callahan, Bengals’ offensive coordinator

OFFENSE? Yes! DEFENSE? Sure!

George Paton wasn’t lying when he said he didn’t care what side of the ball the new head coach was on.

“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,” Paton said on Sunday, explaining what he’s looking for in a new head coach just hours after moving on from Vic Fangio. “We want leadership. That’s our No. 1 priority.”

Of the initial group, six are currently offensive coaches while four are on the defensive side of the ball. So far, the slight end goes to the offensive side of the ball, which Paton knows must get better, but the frontrunner for the job, Dan Quinn, is a defensive coordinator.

Offensive coaches: Kellen Moore, Nathaniel Hackett, Eric Bieniemy, Kevin O’Connell, Luke Getsy, Brian Callahan

Defensive coaches: Jerod Mayo, Dan Quinn, Jonathan Gannon, Aaron Glenn

WHO NEEDS EXPERIENCE?

Denver’s past two coaches have been first-time head coaches. Neither Vance Joseph nor Fangio had a winning season, let along made the playoffs, while rookie coaching mistakes plagued each of them throughout their tenure.

But that won’t scare Paton away from potentially hiring another first-time head coach.

“We’re wide open. We’re going to have an open book and keep all of our options open,” Paton stated, when asked about the importance he places on coaches having past experience as a head coach. “There have been a lot of great head coaches that have never had experience, and there have been really good head coaches that did have experience. I think we’re going to keep an open mind and it’s going to be a wide range. We’re going to be very thorough, and we’re going to look at all the candidates.”

Not only will Paton interview potential first-time head coaches, he’s almost exclusively interviewing coaches without any experience.

In fact, Dan Quinn is the only coach that’s currently a candidate with head coaching experience. Quinn went to the Super Bowl, but lost, as the Falcons head coach.

PLAYER-COACH

While former head coaching experience is clearly not a requirement to get an interview for the job, it appears Paton values all types of experience in the NFL.

One of those experiences appears to be as a player.

Of the 10 candidates, six of them have played in the NFL in some form or fashion.

Mayo and Glenn were both first-round picks, while Getsy was a member of the San Francisco 49ers for only a few months after college. Moore and O’Connell were both quarterbacks.

Former NFL players: Jerod Mayo, Kellen Moore, Eric Bieniemy, Kevin O’Connell, Aaron Glenn, Luke Getsy

A SCOUTS EYE

Unsurprisingly, Paton has also found a few coaches with a scouting background, much like himself. After starting as a scouting interim with the Bears in 1997, Paton rose all the way up to general manager nearly 25 years later.

While Gannon and Glenn don’t have nearly the same amount of experience in the scouting department as Paton, it’s easy to believe Denver’s general manager views these two candidates a little more favorably as they can view the game through multiple lenses.

Gannon spent three seasons as a scout with the Rams—one as a college scout and the other two as a pro scout. Glenn got his start in the NFL, after his playing career ended, as a personnel scout with the Jets for two seasons before becoming a coach.

YOUTH MOVEMENT

Last season, the Broncos had the seventh-oldest head coach in the NFL as Fangio was 63 years old. This coaching cycle, the oldest person Paton is looking at is over 10 years younger than Fangio. Bieniemy is the oldest coach on Denver’s list at 52 years old.

For the most part, Denver’s list is comprised of many younger coaches. Over half of the Broncos’ candidates are in their 30s. In fact, Denver is interviewing more coaches that are in their 30s (6) than there were 30-year-old head coaches in the NFL last year (5).

Last year, the average age of an NFL head coach was 50. Only Bieniemy (52), and Quinn (51) top that average. The other eight candidates are all below last year’s average age. The average age of Denver’s candidates is 41.

Candidates age (from youngest to oldest): Kellen Moore (33), Jerod Mayo (35), Kevin O’Connell (36), Brian Callahan (37), Luke Getsy (37), Jonathan Gannon (39), Nathaniel Hackett (42), Aaron Glenn (49), Dan Quinn (51), Eric Bieniemy (52)

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