One year after winning the Super Bowl, the Denver Broncos are looking for a new coach — their third in six seasons.
Coach Gary Kubiak retired this week citing health concerns, so John Elway is hitting the road this week to interview candidates for what most NFL insiders consider the best available head-coaching job. Denver already has a top-notch defense; will Elway turn to an offensive guru to get his team back to the playoffs?
Here's a look at who Elway is meeting with first.
Dave Toub, Kansas City Chiefs
Elway met with Toub, the Chiefs' special teams coach, on Friday as they prepare for their playoff opener; Kansas City has a first-round bye. Elway called him "a great coach & person who has a very impressive track record with special teams," and the meeting reportedly lasted four hours.
The Chiefs led the NFL in punt-return average, ranked third in average per punt return allowed and led the league with three return TDs. Toub's special teams have scored 31 touchdowns in the past 13 seasons, and have allowed just three scores on returns.
Another Shanahan in Denver? The Falcons' offensive coordinator is the hottest head-coaching candidate after resurrecting Matt Ryan's career and making Atlanta's offense the highest-scoring (33.8 ppg) in the NFL. Elway met with Shanahan on Saturday, reportedly for four hours; the Falcons also have a first-round bye.
“He’s a very bright coach who’s had a tremendous year and has a great future,’’ Elway wrote on Twitter.
Shanahan, 37, has said he's ready for his first head-coaching job after serving as OC with Washington, Cleveland and now Atlanta. He's the son of former Broncos coach Mike Shanahan and could work wonders with Denver QBs Trevor Siemian and Paxton Lynch in his West Coast offense.
He interviewed with the 49ers on Friday and also is expected to interview with the Rams and Jaguars.
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Vance Joseph, Miami Dolphins
Joseph, the Dolphins' defensive coordinator, might be the strongest candidate because he was a finalist for the job before Kubiak got it. Miami plays at Pittsburgh on Sunday, so Joseph won't meet with Elway until next week.
Joseph's defense hasn't been at its best this season, ranking 29th overall and 30th against the run. But Denver has better players for him to work with. Joseph was Kubiak's defensive backs coach in Houston, and the Broncos tried to hire him to be Kubiak's DC, but they had to settle for Wade Phillips — who may join Kubiak in heading out the door, as his contract is up.
FOX Sports' Cameron DaSilva lists Joseph as the top candidate to replace Kubiak. He's also expected to interview with the Chargers and 49ers.