Degrees of separation: Several HC candidates worked closely with Paton
A number of coaching candidates have connections with general manager George Paton, and the degrees of separation could be a factor in the search for the Denver Broncos new head coach.
Here’s a deeper look into the “degrees of George Paton”:
One degree from George Paton
Mike Zimmer, Minnesota Vikings head coach
George Paton » Mike Zimmer
If Zimmer is let go in Minnesota, as has been rumored, his experience as a head coach and long time working directly working with Paton could make him a logical candidate. Zimmer would make it three consecutive defensive-minded head coaches for the Broncos, leaving a major question of whom Zimmer would look to fix the team’s struggling offense.
Eric Bieniemy, Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator
George Paton » Eric Bieniemy
The Colorado Buffaloes legend spent four seasons in Minnesota with Paton, when he was coaching Adrian Peterson and the Vikings running backs. Bieniemy has been a highly referenced candidate around the league for years, and his familiarity with the dominant team and quarterback in the Broncos’ division could bring added value.
Dan Quinn, Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator
George Paton » Dan Quinn
Patron and Quinn crossed paths in Miami for two seasons prior to the latter’s ascension to defensive coordinator in Seattle and head coach in Atlanta. Like Zimmer, Quinn has a defensive background, which again brings up the questions of who he would task with coordinating the Broncos offense.
Klint Kubiak, Minnesota Vikings offensive coordinator
George Paton » Klint Kubiak
Kubiak worked with Paton during two separate stints with the Vikings, where he’s currently offensive coordinator. Between those tenures, Kubiak was with the Broncos, working under his father, Gary. The Regis Jesuit High School and Colorado State alum is well connected to this area. With the Mike Shanahan/Gary Kubiak offense in vogue, hiring a disciple of its namesake could bring a clear offensive direction.
Todd Downing, Tennessee Titans offensive coordinator
George Paton » Todd Downing
Before heading to Tennessee, Downing gained experience across the NFL, including a season in Minnesota with Paton. He’d be a popular pick for Mark Schlereth, as no offensive coordinator in football has run the ball more this season than Downing, and that includes sticking with it following the injury to Derrick Henry.
Two degrees from George Paton
Kellen Moore, Dallas Cowboys offensive coordinator
George Paton » Jason Garrett » Kellen Moore
Despite Vic Fangio’s snarky text to Mark Kiszla, Moore remains on the list of top NFL head coaching candidates. Before Mike McCarthy took over in Dallas, Moore played for and coached under Jason Garrett, who spent two years with Paton in Miami.
Brian Daboll, Buffalo Bills offensive coordinator
George Paton » Nick Saban » Brian Daboll
The coach credited with helping the development of Josh Allen shares a connection with the current Broncos general manager through Nick Saban, whose NFL head coaching tenure overlapped with Paton in Miami. Daboll and Moore figure to be among the most popular coaching candidates this offseason from their work bringing along young quarterbacks.
Mike McDaniel, San Francisco 49ers offensive coordinator
George Paton » Gary Kubiak » Mike McDaniel
Born in Aurora, the Smoky Hill High School alum started his career with the Broncos as an intern in 2005. He then followed Gary Kubiak to Houston, where he would eventually link up with Kyle Shanahan. McDaniel has followed Shanahan to Washington, Cleveland, Atlanta and, now, San Francisco. Like Klint Kubiak, if Paton wants the Broncos offense to return to its Shanahan/Kubiak roots, bringing McDaniel home to the Rocky Mountains would mean hiring a head coach well versed in that system.
Brian Callahan, Cincinnati Bengals offensive coordinator
George Paton » Gary Kubiak » Brian Callahan
Callahan’s coaching roots are with the Broncos, starting in 2010 and ending with the team’s victory in Super Bowl 50, where he worked under Gary Kubiak. Like McDaniel, Callahan has experience in the Shanahan/Kubiak offense, where he’s currently enjoying success coaching Joe Burrow under the direction of Shanahan-tree member Zac Taylor.