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Woody Paige: Denver Broncos lead the league in tight ends, coordinators

May 16, 2017 Updated: May 17, 2017 at 12:58 pm
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Denver Broncos head coach Vance Joseph, third from left, joins defensive coordinator Joe, Woods, far left, offensive coordinator Mike McCoy, second from left, and special teams coach Brock Olivo for a photograph following a news conference to showcase the new hires, Tuesday, Feb. 7, 2017, at the team's headquarters in Englewood, Colo. The new coaches said that the goal is to build on the strengths of the team's defense while enhancing the Broncos' anemic offense. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

The Broncos lead the league in former and/or current coordinators (10) and tight ends (8).

There should be enough of both in Denver.

In fact, Mike McCoy, recently the coach of the Chargers, is the Broncos' former and current offensive coordinator. He is being assisted on the offense by quarterbacks coach Bill Musgrave, who was the Raiders' offensive coordinator last season, and tight ends coach Geep (George Patrick) Chryst, the coordinator with the 49ers two years ago, and offensive line coach Jeff Davidson, an ex-Panthers and Browns offensive coordinator. And newly promoted assistant head coach/running backs coach Eric Studesville was the Broncos' interim coach in 2010.

And people wondered last year who was calling the plays.

The three coordinators of 2016 are coordinating somewhere else - and the tight end coach is not directing anybody anywhere.

Perhaps Chryst can figure it out. He is a Princeton graduate, and also has a master's degree, and his brother is the Wisconsin coach. Chryst once was the coach for quarterback Jim Harbaugh, and later was an assistant under Harbaugh.

Special teams coordinator Brock Olivo served as the head coach/offensive coordinator for the Italian national football team. The Broncos' defensive staff has former coordinators and current coordinator Joe Woods all over the place. And coach Vance Joseph was a defensive coordinator last year.

Confused yet?

What about the tight ends? Is eight enough?

Last season the Broncos gave out dubious participation ribbons to five tight ends, and none was distinctive.

The quintet combined for two whole touchdowns.

The Broncos' last legitimate tight end, Julius Thomas, caught 24 touchdowns in 2013-14 before going off to the witness protection program in Jacksonville.

The tight end aspirants are:

Raiders Broncos Football
Denver Broncos tight end Virgil Green (85) celebrates his touchdown against the Oakland Raiders during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 28, 2014, in Denver. (AP Photo/Jack Dempsey) 

- Virgil Green, one of the last two men standing (Von Miller is the other) from John Elway's first draft in 2011. The Orange's Green has been a career underachiever with an average of nine receptions, and three measly touchdowns, over six seasons.

- A.J. Derby, who was acquired last October from the Patriots for a fifth-round draft pick. We learned why New England got rid of him. He finished with 16 catches in 10 games and didn't sniff the goal line.

- Jeff Heuerman, who was drafted in the third round by the Broncos in 2015. He tore his ACL the first day of rookie minicamp and didn't play that year. In '16 he caught nine passes in 12 games and was no factor.

- Henry Krieger-Coble, who was signed as a free agent last season and ended up on the practice squad. He was activated for the final two games and managed one grab.

- Steven Scheu, who was another New England reject (after being signed as a free agent) and landed in Denver on the junior varsity.

- Austin Traylor, one more free agent - you won't believe this - signed by the Patriots and cut from the practice squad, who joined the Broncos' practice squad in '16.

- Cedric Lang, who was a four-season player at UTEP - in basketball. He then played one year for the school's football team. He signed a futures deal with the Broncos in January, and is the team's tallest player, maybe ever, at 6-foot-9.

Broncos Rookie Camp Football
Denver Broncos tight end Jake Butt looks on during the team's NFL football rookie minicamp Saturday, May 13, 2017, at the Broncos' headquarters in Englewood, Colo. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski) 

- Jake Butt, the subject of my Sunday column, who was recently drafted in the fifth round by the Broncos. He is recovering from a torn ACL suffered in the Orange Bowl. Oddly enough, the son of his position coach, Chryst, became the starting quarterback at Stanford in midseason of '16 and tore his ACL in the Sun Bowl. When Butt was in the third grade, another student joked about his name, and Jake kicked his butt.

Three or four of the tight ends will survive.

Green is vulnerable because he hasn't developed into a dependable, quality tight end. He will be 30 in August and would count $3.3 million against the salary cap.

Butt, out of Michigan, was the last to sign with the Broncos, but likely will be first string when he is healthy and catches up. The other spots could be taken by another former Big Ten tight end, Heuerman (Ohio State), Derby (a former Iowa-Arkansas quarterback), the veteran or Mr. Hyphenated.

The tight end debates, deliberations and decisions involving the plethora of offensive coordinators, the coach and the exec VP will be difficult.

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