Woody Paige: Broncos coaching decision nears after Vance Joseph interview

January 10, 2017 Updated: January 11, 2017 at 7:13 am
photo - Atlanta Falcons offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan walks on the turf before the first half of an NFL football game between the Atlanta Falcons and the San Francisco 49ers, Sunday, Dec. 18, 2016, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)
Atlanta Falcons offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan walks on the turf before the first half of an NFL football game between the Atlanta Falcons and the San Francisco 49ers, Sunday, Dec. 18, 2016, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore) 

Denver Broncos' bated-breath backers must wait. The team doesn't have a head coach ... yet.

But, perhaps by Wednesday morning.

There were two intriguing developments Tuesday night after Vance Joseph met with the Broncos' five-man search committee for several hours at Dove Valley. The Denver Broncos official twitter account posted this early in the evening: "Is orange and blue in Vance Joseph's future?''

Then, John Elway and Joseph, a source said, drove to Elway's Steakhouse in Cherry Creek for dinner and more conversation.

There was no public announcement that Vance would be the new commanding coach. Elway tweeted afterward that Joseph, a former University of Colorado quarterback, has "great leadership qualities and a strong vision of what it takes to win.'' Interpret the comments as you will.

Joseph is scheduled to be in San Diego Wednesday and San Francisco Thursday for interviews. If he doesn't show up for the Chargers' meeting, then it must be presumed Joseph is joining the Broncos. If he proceeds on the trip, the Broncos' position would remain in doubt.

Speculation among certified NFL media about whether Joseph or Shanahan will be named the Broncos' 16th coach has been divided. Some are certain Joseph will get the job - "It's his to lose,'' one writer advanced in The Sporting News - while others are just as definite that Shanahan will be Elway's selection and Gary Kubiak's successor. "(Shanahan) is the top candidate,'' according to an ESPN reporter.

Joseph, who impressed Elway in an interview two years ago, obviously was just as striking Tuesday.

Two credible NFL-associated sources with internal knowledge of the process assert that Kyle Shanahan "would accept an offer from the Broncos; he hit a home run and dynamically answered all the questions in his interview with the Broncos' search committee,'' and if Shanahan gets the job, some new assistants would have Colorado connections.

Joseph has made it known he would favor the Broncos' job if offered.

Shanahan, who would be the league's youngest head coach (he turned 37 Dec.‚ÄČ14), wants to return home - where he grew up, played football at Cherry Creek High School, hung out regularly at the franchise's facilities and was at the victories in Super Bowl XXXII and XXXIII when his father, Mike Shanahan, was the Broncos' head coach. His wife, Mandy O'Donnell Shanahan, desires to return to Colorado, where she and Kyle were high school sweethearts (and she graduated from CU), so their son and two daughters can be raised here and near the children's grandparents.

One source told me the Broncos' executives were very impressed by Shanahan, his honesty and his awareness about the team's problems, and he presented solutions. "Kyle slammed it out of the ballpark. He obviously knew what he was talking about.''

As I reported last week, Shanahan assured the Broncos that he was his own man, and the search committee expressed no issues, or asked no questions, about his father.

The second reliable source told me that after interviewing with other teams, Kyle was persuaded that his best landing spot as a head coach is Denver. "He always wanted to be the Broncos' head coach, and that didn't change. He wants the job.''

If, indeed, the Mike Shanahan relationship is not a negative, the major concerns for the Broncos would be Kyle Shanahan's leadership qualities, his assistant coach preferences and the possibility he won't be available until after the Super Bowl.

League rules don't allow a coach whose team is in the postseason to agree to a contract.

Shanahan and Joseph likely could expect a four-year contract totaling about $18 million. Gary Kubiak was paid $5 million per year.

Shanahan would be in favor of keeping the defensive coaching staff intact - if Elway and Wade Phillips can reach accord on a deal that would make the defensive coordinator one of the NFL's highest-paid assistants. If not, Shanahan would elevate secondary coach Joe Woods or bring in Falcons' defensive coordinator Richard Smith as assistant head coach/defense. Smith has been a coach with the Broncos twice (1993-1996 and 2011-2014), first as special teams coach, then linebackers coach.

Shanahan would try to lure at least two other Atlanta assistants - running backs coach Bobby Turner, who held the same position successfully with the Broncos from 1995-2009 and Colorado's own Mike McDaniel to coach receivers or quarterbacks. McDaniel, a Mensa candidate as a fifth-grader, was a wide receiver at Smoky Hill High, then Yale. He has served with Shanahan in Washington, Cleveland and Atlanta.

Raheem Morris, ex-Tampa Bay Bucs head coach and current Falcons' wide receiver coach, is a possibility to be assistant head coach/offense.

Joseph has indicated he would promote Woods to defensive coordinator and hire Mike McCoy, the Broncos' offensive coordinator from 2009 (under McDaniels) to 2012 (under John Fox), to oversee the offense.

The assistant coaches will be as critical as the head coach.

And the Broncos' head coach remains TBDBTD - To Be Determined By The Duke.

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