Could Jerry Rosburg be a Denver Broncos coaching candidate?

Jan 22, 2023, 2:59 PM | Updated: 3:15 pm

In the final days of the regular season, interim Broncos coach Jerry Rosburg spoke with erudite passion about returning to his work with Next Gen Hyperbaric. It was the work that consumed him for three-and-a-half years spent after retiring from coaching in March 2019.

“It is a deep-seated desire for me to help our players, both active and retired,” he said Jan. 6. “There are too many guys to go by the waste side after they retire. I have a strong desire to [help with] that. It’s taking shape. It’s in its initial stages through Next Gen Hyperbaric.”

“… We are making inroads. When we get to this point where we have a player that’s retired and he’s having problems, we both have the resources and the desire to help these men.”

It’s near and dear to Rosburg’s heart. It also extends to working with combat veterans. It is fulfilling work.

But perhaps Rosburg’s coaching career hasn’t reached its denouement just yet.

According to ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler, Rosburg met with Broncos ownership after the regular season to share not only his interest in the vacant head-coaching job — but a plan for it.

What’s more, Fowler reported that Broncos ownership would “consider” Rosburg’s plan and candidacy. Fowler described the meeting between Rosburg and ownership as “lengthy.”

There was a clear Rosburg Effect on the Broncos in the final two weeks. He immediately fired two coaches, made Justin Outten the play-caller, benched struggling punt returner Montrell Washington and restored Albert Okwuegbunam to a prominent role he hadn’t had since Week 2. He shook up the the practice structure, moving special teams up in the schedule.

The result? A team that absorbed a 51-14 throttling to an eventual 5-12 Rams squad on Christmas came within a questionable pass-interference call of stopping its now 15-game losing streak to Kansas City. The Broncos followed that with a win over a Chargers team that played its starters into the fourth quarter, only pulling them when Denver led, 31-20.

Two days before the regular-season finale, I asked Rosburg if returning to coaching made him realize what he missed about the profession.

“That’s a really thoughtful question,” he replied. “If I can rephrase it just slightly — I think the thing that I thought I missed and that has been reconfirmed that I missed was my engagement with the players.

“I love these guys. A lot of these guys didn’t know me coming in. Some embraced me early, some embraced me later on, and some perhaps haven’t embraced me. I really appreciate these relationships that I’ve built up over the years.”

However, it was more than that.

“It’s not just about building a relationship. If you just do that as a coach, then you’re not doing your job,” Rosburg continued. “t’s about trying to help them become better players and better men, so when they venture out in the world, they’re prepared for that. I have deep-seated relationships in my life. These players have raised me up, and I’m a better man for it. That’s what I missed.”

And the thing is, Rosburg’s guidance and leadership did make players better in those final two weeks. As individuals — demonstrated most prominently by Okwuegbunam and the play of Russell Wilson, who looked like his old self against two playoff-bound teams. And as a collective, as the Broncos played their best and most consistent all-around football of the season.

Further, their special teams, hapless during Dwayne Stukes’ stewardship raised itself from the bottom of the league rankings — per Football Outsiders’ DVOA metric — after Rosburg sacked Stukes and took the helm with assistant special-teams coordinator Mike Mallory.

It’s not likely to result in Rosburg getting the job. The Walton-Penner ownership group’s interviews have been more in the “big swing” category.

But it’s another wrinkle, and it could give ownership something to consider. After all, they saw what Rosburg did in just a fortnight on the job. What could he accomplish with more time? He also wouldn’t cost the Broncos any draft picks, either.



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