ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) Broncos general manager John Elway began his third coaching search in six seasons with a visit to Kansas City on Friday to interview Chiefs special teams coach Dave Toub.
Elway will also travel to Atlanta this weekend to meet with Falcons offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan, whose team, like Toub’s, has a first-round bye in the playoffs.
Toub, 54, also is scheduled to meet with the Chargers, and Shanahan is expected to meet with the Rams, 49ers and Jaguars about their head coaching vacancies.
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Elway’s docket also includes a visit next week with Dolphins defensive coordinator Vance Joseph. If Miami beats Pittsburgh on Sunday, that interview will be in Florida. Otherwise, the Broncos could fly him in.
Joseph impressed Elway during an interview the last time Denver’s head coaching job was open. When Gary Kubiak got the nod, the Broncos tried to hire Joseph as defensive coordinator but the Bengals wouldn’t let him out of his contract and that job went to Wade Phillips instead.
Of the half-dozen head coach openings, Denver’s is probably the most attractive. The Broncos boast the resources, championship culture and a defense that led them to a Super Bowl parade just 11 months ago.
It’s also the most pressure-packed gig with a win-now edict for a first-time head coach who would work for a Hall of Famer under whose watch the Broncos have gone 73-33 with five division crowns, two Super Bowl appearances and a title in six seasons.
Kubiak, 55, stepped down Monday citing health concerns less than a year after the Broncos won Super Bowl 50. Denver slipped to 9-7 and missed the playoffs in 2016.
Kubiak went 24-11 after replacing John Fox, who bolted to the Bears following four AFC West crowns and a 49-22 record in Denver. He’s 9-23 in Chicago.
”This is a great place to work, but the expectations are high,” Elway said. ”Everybody that comes here, whether it’s a coach or a player, understands that the standard is to be able to compete for world championships. Does it add a little bit more? Sure it does. I think if you’re good at what you do, I think you want that challenge.”
Elway’s next hire will inherit a dynamic defense and a quarterback competition between youngsters Trevor Siemian and Paxton Lynch.
Siemian was pin-balled all season behind a bad offensive line and underwent surgery on his left (non-throwing) shoulder this week to address an injury he suffered in Week 4. Lynch, a first-round draft pick, showed he was a long way from mastering the pro offense in his 2016 cameos, but the new coach will need a plan to get him up to speed quickly.
Elway said his top priority, ahead of plugging a leaky O-line, is keeping his defense first-rate.
The best way to do that might very well be to focus on fixing the offense that sputtered almost all season. The Broncos played from behind so often that they neutralized their strengths: Von Miller coming off the edge and Aqib Talib and Chris Harris in coverage.
All three earned AP All-Pro first-team honors Friday.
The Broncos went 9-7 and missed the playoffs this year after season-long struggles in pass protection, poor production from their tight ends and an inability to develop viable options behind receivers Emmanuel Sanders and Demaryius Thomas.
Quarterback Matt Ryan flourished in Atlanta, which led the league in scoring while operating Shanahan’s version of the West Coast offense that included some twists and better depth than Denver.
Shanahan, 37, the son of former Broncos coach Mike Shanahan, said he believes he’s ready to coach a team after serving as offensive coordinator in Washington for four seasons, a year in Cleveland and the last two years on Dan Quinn’s Falcons staff.
”It’s about getting that opportunity and hope it’s the right fit,” said Shanahan.
Joseph, 44, a former University of Colorado quarterback who was Kubiak’s defensive backs coach in Houston from 2011-13, has just one year’s experience as a coordinator and the Dolphins ranked 29th in the NFL on defense and 30th against the run.
He’s also drawing interest from the Chargers and 49ers.
”It’s flattering when teams have interest in you,” Joseph said. ”But I haven’t spent one moment on the future. The future for me is Sunday at 1. My job now is to beat Pittsburgh, so that’s my focus.”
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