Denver is coming off a season in which it finished second in the NFL in total offense. The defense finished 29th and that side of the ball will be overhauled, including some likely coaching changes.
Former Broncos coach Mike Shanahan said at his press conference following his dismissal as head coach that he hoped the new coach would look to keep the offensive staff together. That would be easier if Denver hired one of the defensive minds it has interviewed, such as New York Giants defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo or Tampa Bay defensive coordinator Raheem Morris. Minnesota defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier is also a candidate.
The Broncos haven't narrowed their focus on a defensive coach, however. Denver owner Pat Bowlen knows the future of the franchise is his young offense, specifically franchise quarterback Jay Cutler.
Bowlen said he would keep Cutler involved as the Broncos go about finding a new head coach.
"I'm sure he is very interested in who is going to be the next head coach," Bowlen said. "Obviously, he is the man around here now, so I will be talking with Jay."
If the Broncos want a tutor for Cutler and a caretaker for the talented offense, McDaniels and Garrett each have strong credentials. McDaniels has overseen the record-setting Patriots offense the past few years. The Cowboys made Garrett the highest-paid assistant coach in the NFL after last season.
Whoever takes over as head coach will have to make some tough choices on defense. Considering the Broncos feel they aren't far away from being a contender, there will be urgency to improve that unit quickly.
Denver has the 12th overall pick of the draft and could be in the running for some top defensive free agents this offseason.
--Longtime Broncos assistant Rick Dennison is the lone in-house candidate for the vacant head-coaching job. He has held the title of offensive coordinator the past three seasons, although play calling duties were with Mike Heimerdinger during the first two seasons and Jeremy Bates last year.
Dennison has been a coach with the Broncos since 1995. He also spent nine years playing linebacker for Denver.
--Although Broncos owner Pat Bowlen said it was time to make a change, firing Mike Shanahan wasn't easy. Shanahan was with the Broncos for 21 years, including the last 14 as the head coach. He helped Denver win two Super Bowls in the 1990s.
Bowlen said he had thought about the decision for a while and made up his mind that the franchise needed a new direction.
"This is probably as tough as it gets," Bowlen said about firing Shanahan.
--As the off-season moves on, it is looking like former Broncos coach Mike Shanahan might not coach in 2009. He said he will coach again, but after he was fired he said he would take some time off before deciding when.
"I'm going to be coaching, I can't give you a timeframe," Shanahan said.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "I think we will get a great coach." -- Broncos owner Pat Bowlen.
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