Coaching in the National Football League is a ruthless business. After four division titles in four years, a 46-18 overall record, and one AFC title, John Fox is out as head coach of the Denver Broncos after he and the team mutually agreed to part ways.
Fox won a lot of games in Denver, but this somewhat unforeseen changing of the guard is not totally surprising to people who closely follow the Broncos’ organization. The best player in franchise history, John Elway, is now running the show as the team’s General Manager, and it is no secret that he is in the business to win Super Bowl titles. The Broncos’ recent Divisional round playoff loss to the Indianapolis Colts was Fox’s second one-and-done trip to the playoffs in three years with Peyton Manning as his quarterback and one of the top-to-bottom most talented rosters in the league.
It is being reported that Fox is already the leading candidate to land the vacant Chicago Bears’ head coaching job, while his top two assistants, Adam Gase and Jack Del Rio, also appear to be close to landing NFL head coaching jobs as well. So, where does that leave the Broncos in their search for the 15th head coach in franchise history?
Here is a look at the top four candidates to replace John Fox as the head coach of the Denver Broncos.
1. Gary Kubiak
Kubiak’s ties to the Broncos are deep. He was John Elway’s backup for his entire nine-year NFL career, and eventually went on to coach for the Broncos from 1995-2005 as the team’s offensive coordinator. There is no doubting that he and Elway remain close, and the two may be reunited in the near future.
Kubiak has insisted all offseason that he intends to return to the Baltimore Ravens for a second season as the team’s offensive coordinator. With that being said, that was before the Denver job opened up. If there were ever an NFL job that Kubiak would change his mind for, it would likely be the Broncos job. Elway has already requested permission to interview Kubiak, and he may ultimately be Elway’s top choice.
2. Mike Shanahan
Shanahan has roots with the Broncos as well. He is the only coach in franchise history to lead the team to a Super Bowl title, and still resides in Denver. The Broncos have denied having interest in Shanahan, but reports have surfaced that Peyton Manning would at least like the team to consider Shanahan for the job. Elway and Shanahan have reportedly repaired their relationship that became strained in the years following Elway’s retirement from playing, but at this point a Broncos-Shanahan reunion appears to be a long shot.
3. Dan Quinn
Quinn has been mentioned as a candidate for every job opening in the league this year, and rightfully so. What he has done in his time as the Seattle Seahawks’ defensive coordinator is remarkable, and may make him the coach Elway has been targeting all along. If Quinn is the guy Elway wants, he will have to wait until the Seahawks’ season is over and then fight off all of his potential suitors and convince him that the Denver job is the best available job in the league.
4. Adam Gase
Gase is another guy Peyton Manning would like to see in consideration for the Broncos job. Gase has been the team’s offensive coordinator for the past two seasons, and was the architect of the 2013 Denver offense that was statistically the best offense in NFL history. Many people around the league believe the Broncos want to hire someone from outside of the organization, but there is no denying that Gase is considered one of the best young coaching candidates in the league. If the Broncos do indeed want Gase to take over for Fox, they will need to move quickly as it appears that the San Francisco 49ers are closing in on signing Gase to be their head coach.