It is no secret that Josh McDaniels time in Denver was highly scrutinized from the time he was named head coach in January, 2009. After trading away the franchise quarterback and then having problems with the franchise wide receiver, he needed to get off to a good start, and he did.
Following a 6-0 start in the 2009 season, many fans had forgotten the offseason chaos, but not completely. Finishing the season 2-8, fans began to remember what happened and after a 3-9 start to this season, those moves and many other bad decisions lead to the termination of the young coach.
Now starts a second coaching search in three years for the Denver Broncos.
With four games left in this season, interim coach Eric Studesville would have to be beyond impressive to have the "interim" label removed. Thant being unlikely, here are some possible candidates for the new leader of the Broncos, some long shots and some real possibilities.
The Long Shots
Former head coach of Oakland Raiders (1998-2001) and Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2002-2008).
Gruden is a fiery coach and could give an instant spark to the franchise and its players. Specializing in quarterbacks, he could help molding Tim Tebow into an NFL quarterback. His experience in coaching will also help a quicker resurgence of the team.
Gruden is probably the best fit for the Broncos, but the Broncos probably aren't the best fit for Gruden.
Former head coach of Pittsburgh Steelers (1992-2006).
A defensive mind is what the Broncos need more than anything else and that is what they would get in Bill Cowher. He is a head coach that knows how to build a team and is used to winning.
Just like in the case of Jon Gruden, Denver would be lucky to get him, but there might be better fits for him.
Tennessee Titans head coach (1994-present).
Jeff Fisher has been a successful coach for the past 16 years, but his time in Tennessee may be coming to an end because of a dispute between him and his quarterback, Vince Young. The owner seems to have picked Vince Young's side so Fisher must get along with him or he and the Titans might go separate ways.
As for the Broncos, he would be a good fit. Fisher knows what he's doing and has a lot of experience coaching. Hiring him would cause a switch from McDaniels's 3-4 defense back to the 4-3.
This is not an ideal situation for either side but if the Titans fire Jeff Fisher and no candidates are emerging in Denver, this is a possibility.
Air Force Academy head coach (2007-present) and Denver Broncos assistant (2003-2005)
Given Troy Calhoun's history with the Broncos, one would expect him to be interested in the job but he says that he has denied any reports of him leaving Air Force. If he did decide to pack it up and move to the Rockies, the city of Denver would welcome him with open arms. He is a smart and likable guy that could really help restore the franchises good name.
Calhoun would be great for the Broncos and the Broncos would be great for him. If he decides to go back on his decision to stay at Air Force, he and Denver may be a match made in heaven.
Houston Texans head coach (2006-present) and Denver Broncos assistant (1995-2005)
Gary Kubiak goes a long way back with the Denver Broncos. After nine years playing as a backup to John Elway at the quarterback position, he then came back as an assistant under Mike Shanahan for 10 years before accepting a job with the Houston Texans. Hid time in Houston looks to be coming to an end because of a season that looked good that is now going down the drain.
Kubiak would bring back the approach that Mike Shanahan took to the game and would bring back some of the lost fan support. If Kubiak were to get fired this offseason, look for Broncos owner Pat Bowlen to contact Kubiak very quickly to talk about the open position.
San Francisco 49ers head coach (2005-2008) and Denver Broncos assistant (2009).
Josh McDaniels brought in Mike Nolan to be the defensive coordinator when he first joined the team, but after one year, Nolan and McDaniels decided to "part ways" because of a disagreement on how to run the defense.
Nolan took the Broncos defense from a 4-3 defense that was in the bottom of the league to a 3-4 defense shutting down opposing offenses. He would bring back that great scheme and would also be very grateful for another opportunity to be a head coach.
Nolan would be attractive to the Broncos and would also not make the franchise break their bank to bring him in. His familiarity of the team and organization makes him a worthy and interesting candidate that should pop up at some point in discussions on the head coaching job.
Minnesota Vikings assistant (2007-2010) and interim head coach (2010).
A defensive genius, Frazier is going to be one of the top candidate on the Broncos list this year. He fits perfectly as a player friendly head coach to a team that needs a complete personality change. The only thing holding the Broncos back from going after him is if he ever hits the coaching market. The Vikings may just keep him head coach by removing his interim label as soon as the season ends.
If Leslie Frazier doesn't get kept by Minnesota, then Denver would be lucky to have him.