Despite not firing any coaches on Black Monday, the shock-wave of the coaching carousel has been felt by the Denver Broncos since early Monday morning.
There are three teams—Chicago, Arizona and Buffalo—aggressively pursuing Broncos offensive coordinator Mike McCoy. On Tuesday, the San Diego Chargers requested (and were denied) permission to interview Denver's director of player personnel, Matt Russell, for their vacant general manager position after firing A.J. Smith on Monday.
Teams are not allowed to talk employment with coaches and assistants under contract elsewhere in the NFL during the season without first seeking permission from the team holding the rights to said coach, which is why the Chargers had to formally request permission to interview Russell.
According to the Denver Post (via BroncoTalk), John Elway, Denver's executive vice president of football operations, denied the Charger's interview request after talking to Russell, who basically operates as Denver's GM, despite officially being the team's "director of player personnel."
“Matt’s done a tremendous job with the Broncos and he’s got a very bright future ahead of him,” said Elway, who unofficially handed GM duties in Russell early in 2012 after firing Broncos former GM Brian Xanders.
Acting as Elway's right-hand man, Russell is the No. 2 personnel man in Denver, where the Broncos have a great front office and are currently the top team in the AFC. Already in a great situation, it was easy for Russell to turn down San Diego's offer, albeit an official job "promotion," in name only, really.
“I’ve got the best owner in sports here (Pat Bowlen) and the best boss in John Elway,” Russell said. “I want to be part of something special in the state I love.”
Russell has a great gig in Denver and isn't interested in leaving anytime soon. There is a similar case for Denver's defensive coordinator, Jack Del Rio, who, like McCoy, is also expected to draw head coaching offers.
“When you’re a young guy and you haven’t been there, the urgency and desire to get that opportunity is such that you’d take just about any job given to you,” Del Rio told the Associated Press, indicating that he would be very choosy when considering head coaching offers.
“I don’t feel that way now. If there’s something that fits and the right situation comes along, so be it. But in the meantime, I’m all in, 100 percent as a lieutenant on this staff. I’m somebody that John Fox, John Elway … and the players can count on. I’m 100 percent invested in helping them be their best.”
Denver's Del Rio and Russell are in very similar situations. They could both potentially earn promotions and more money elsewhere in the NFL, but have no reason to leave Denver, where the Broncos are experiencing great success under their current front office and coaching staff.
The situation is different all-together for Mike McCoy, who, unlike Del Rio, has never coached at a level higher than coordinator and is ready to prove himself as a head coach. If McCoy does leave, the Broncos have plenty of options to replace him, and quarterback Peyton Manning is practically his own offensive coordinator, anyway.
McCoy may be leaving, but Russell and Del Rio are happy in Denver. Overall, that's an ideal situation for the Broncos, who have built a great staff that is very capable of running one of the league's most respected franchises.
Jon Heath has been covering the Denver Broncos since 2008 and can be found on Twitter, @JHeath_DEN.
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