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Bowlen expected to be swift in finding next Broncos coach

Jeff Legwold
Rocky Mountain News
Denver, CO Colorado

DENVER, Colorado “-After shocking his team, his adopted city and his friends and colleagues in the NFL all in one swoop Tuesday by firing coach Mike Shanahan, Broncos owner Pat Bowlen is expected to move quickly during the next few weeks to replace the man who was the team’s coach and top personnel executive.

Neither Bowlen nor Shanahan could be reached for comment Tuesday night, but both are expected to speak at a news conference beginning at 11 a.m. today.

When the search for Shanahan’s replacement does begin, the name generating the biggest buzz around the league is former Pittsburgh Steelers coach and current CBS analyst Bill Cowher.



But NFL teams say Cowher has made it clear he wants control over a team’s football operations to go with a salary in the top three among coaches in the league (pushing him beyond $6 million a year).

That means the Broncos almost certainly would look in another direction.



More likely is someone such as Tennessee Titans defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz, especially if the Broncos elect to retain offensive coordinator Jeremy Bates, who is under contract for three more seasons and has a strong relationship with quarterback Jay Cutler.

Titans coach Jeff Fisher has said in the past that Schwartz is “ready to be a head coach.”

Also on Fisher’s defensive staff is former Arizona Cardinals coach Dave McGinnis.



New York Giants defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo, who has been given permission to talk to the New York Jets about their vacant head coaching position, and Baltimore Ravens defensive coordinator Rex Ryan, who has interviewed for the Miami, Atlanta and Baltimore head coaching jobs, are high-profile candidates as well.

Assistant coaches with teams in the playoffs cannot interview for head coaching positions until the week after the conference championships or when their team’s season is completed.

Two NFL general managers who were asked Tuesday to name an up-and-coming defensive assistant who might be ready for a move up mentioned Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive backs coach Raheem Morris as someone that both had “on the radar.”

Longtime associates of Bowlen said Tuesday night he has leaned toward people he knows or has worked with in the past when facing major personnel decisions.

But those associates also pointed out Tony Dungy, who had no previous relationship with Bowlen, was at the top of the team’s list of candidates in 2001 when Shanahan was in the hunt for the University of Florida job.

Shanahan ended up staying with the Broncos and Dungy ended up coaching in Indianapolis, where he remains.

If Bowlen chose to lean toward former Broncos assistants with offensive backgrounds, Mike

Heimerdinger and Gary Kubiak fit the profile.

Heimerdinger currently is the Titans’ offensive coordinator. Kubiak is believed to have two more years remaining on his contract with the Texans but is facing enough heat in his current job that he fired three defensive assistants Tuesday.

To secure a head coach who currently is under contract with another team – as Kubiak is – the Broncos would have to work out a deal with the other team and likely have to surrender compensatory draft picks.

New England Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels has been one of the most pursued coordinators in the league in recent seasons.

And former Broncos assistant and current Miami Dolphins receivers coach Karl Dorrell has head coaching experience at

UCLA.

The Broncos would have to request permission to interview any assistant under contract with another team. Also, under the league’s Rooney Rule, the Broncos are required to interview minority candidates for any top positions.

Because Shanahan was the top personnel executive as well as the coach, the Broncos might be searching through general manager candidates in the coming weeks as well.

They might even hire the general manager first. Bowlen has not previously made his preference known about whether he would structure a more traditional general manager/coach operation.

The Broncos’ financial situation might dictate whom they pursue and how their corporate flow chart looks in personnel and the coaching staff. If they have to continue to pay Shanahan, even partially, and any assistants they have fired because they do not take other jobs, it could impact money spent in the new search.

There would be a significant expenditure to restructure the team’s personnel department as well because any new general manager or top personnel executive might want to bring in scouts or others with whom he already has a working relationship.

Who’s next?

Names that surfaced around the league Tuesday to replace Mike Shanahan as coach of the Broncos:

Defensive background

* Jim Schwartz, Titans defensive coordinator

* Steve Spagnuolo, Giants defensive coordinator

* Dave McGinnis, Titans linebackers coach

* Rex Ryan, Ravens defensive coordinator

* Raheem Morris, Buccaneers defensive backs coach

Offensive background

* Mike Heimerdinger, Titans offensive coordinator

* Gary Kubiak, Texans coach*

* Josh McDaniels, Patriots offensive coordinator

* Karl Dorrell, Dolphins receivers coach

* Because Kubiak is a coach under contract, the Broncos likely would have to surrender compensatory draft picks if the two teams agreed to a deal.

GM candidates

If the Broncos want to make the additional financial commitment to revamp the personnel side of football operations and hire a general manager, among the former ones available are:

* Floyd Reese, formerly of the Titans

* Charley Casserley, formerly of the Redskins and Texans

* Mike Lombardi, formerly of the Raiders

* Ted Sundquist, formerly of the Broncos


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