BRONCOS

Report: Broncos coaching decision could be ‘as soon as Wednesday’

Jan 24, 2023, 10:48 PM
Carrie Walton Penner, Greg Penner and Rob Walton...
(Photo by AAron Ontiveroz/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
(Photo by AAron Ontiveroz/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images)

On Tuesday night, the waiting on the Broncos to take the next step in their coaching search seemed to reach the point of absurdity in media circles.

But according to one report, it might be nearing an end.

Late Tuesday evening, Pro Football Talk reported that there is a belief among “some” that the Broncos could not only be the first of five teams with a head-coaching vacancy to decide on their next coach — but that it could come “as soon as Wednesday.”

Three of the potential finalists could be former Stanford coach David Shaw, Dallas defensive coordinator Dan Quinn and current 49ers defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans, PFT reported.

Shaw interviewed with the Broncos’ search committee on Jan. 10 in California. Quinn interviewed last week; per reports, the Cardinals were set to interview him Tuesday night.

Ryans interviewed in the days before the 49ers’ divisional-round win over the Dallas Cowboys. The Broncos could not officially hire Ryans until the 49ers’ playoff run ends. Denver can’t even have a second interview with Ryans until next week, which will be either a pre-Super Bowl bye for the 49ers or after their season concludes.

Shaw’s candidacy is intriguing for multiple reasons. First, his tenure at Stanford overlapped heavily with the on-campus presence of Condoleezza Rice, a Broncos co-owner known to have keen connections with the Cardinal’s football program. The Cardinal was mostly successful on his watch, until the changing landscape of college football seemed to catch up with Stanford, especially in the last two years.

As PFT’s Mike Florio writes, “If the Walton-Penner group has seen fit to include Rice as an owner and to involve her in the process, her voice could resonate when its time to make a choice, since the rest of the ownership group won’t even begin to be able to fashion arguments against Shaw or in favor of someone else.”

And while most college-football coaches going to the NFL stumble, Stanford’s coaches have a legacy of pro success. Jim Harbaugh, Dennis Green and Bill Walsh all jumped from Stanford to the NFL and had lengthy, prolific runs. Before them, John Ralston leapt from Stanford to the Broncos in 1972 and transformed the then-woebegone franchise to a winner for the first time, snapping a franchise-opening streak of 13 consecutive non-winning seasons.

Success at Stanford has a history of translating to the highest level.

Then, of course, there is Sean Payton. His candidacy looms over the Broncos’ search. Payton met with the Broncos’ search committee in a Los Angeles-area hotel last week. He spent Tuesday on a commercial shoot in New Orleans, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

Payton has the most extensive resume. But hiring him would require surrendering draft capital. In all likelihood, that would begin with the first-round pick the Broncos acquired from Miami in the Bradley Chubb trade.

PFT’s report came hours after longtime Saints reporter/columnist Jeff Duncan of the New Orleans Advocate suggested that the Broncos had not proceeded with their second round of interviews because owner Rob Walton was on a “hunting trip.”

“I think it’s nothing more — as I understand it — than Denver wanting the majority owner Rob Walton, to be involved, and Rob Walton is on a hunting trip and is not going to be back in Denver,” Duncan said. “So, when he gets back, I think you’ll start seeing all the second interviews with the finalists start lining up in Denver.”

Duncan subsequently walked back the assertion.

Like the airplane-tracking hijinks of one year ago, Duncan’s comments provided a moment where the coverage of the search passed from the sublime to the ridiculous.

But perhaps it all could be about to reach its climax — at about the same time as it did last year.

***

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