The Denver Broncos head coaching search continues as the Walton Penner Family Ownership Group look to secure a strong presence there for the next few decades. In this mailbag, what’s the latest on the head coaching search, how can the Broncos fix their special teams issues, and more.

Denver Broncos head coach search the primary focus for everybody

Around this time last year, the Denver Broncos announced the hire of Nathaniel Hackett as their next head coach. Little did they know at the time, Hackett’s tenure would be rocky and tumultuous to the point they fired him just 15 games into his first season. Will Denver look to hire another first-year head coach?

Do you think Jerry Rosburg’s request to be interviewed will happen while DeMeco Ryans is still in the playoffs?
Jerry Rosburg met with Broncos ownership following the conclusion of the season to reflect on the 2022 season and the final two games in which Rosburg served as the acting interim head coach. While in this meeting with ownership, the former Broncos interim coach outlined what his philosophy would be if he were given the job, how he would construct the Denver offense and defense, coach his coaches, and manage player personnel.

At this point, it doesn’t appear as if Rosburg will receive a second interview, but things could change. Broncos ownership seems content with letting the process play out, while still considering what Rosburg mentioned to them.

What has to be done to fix special teams? Is Montrell Washington back next year, and if not are there any players in the draft, FA, or already on the team who can impact the return game?
The Denver Broncos special teams unit struggled to overcome youth and injuries last season. Montrell Washington should be back next season and should receive every opportunity to maintain the job as a returner. Losing various impact starters on special teams due to injuries elevating guys (Alex Singleton, Eric Saubert, Essang Bassey) to bigger roles played a bigger role in how that unit performed.

When talking with Washington at the end of the season, he was in positive spirits despite Jerry Rosburg sidelining him for the final two games of the season. He understands he has to continue to work on some fundamental elements as a returner, knowing when it’s too dangerous to field a punt when to fair catch, and having more awareness around him in the return game. The soon-to-be second-year player demonstrated some ability to get involved on offense but will have to refine the aforementioned parts of his game to stick on the 53-man roster next year.

In terms of players on the roster who could take on this role in 2023, Kendall Hinton is the first to come to mind. Undrafted rookie free agent Jalen Virgil will more than likely get an opportunity to throw his name into the returner hat as well. When it comes to free agency and the NFL Draft, it’s possible the Broncos look to add a skill player who possesses the ability to return, but it would be a shock if that was their top priority.

Who do you think is the “dark horse” candidate if Sean Payton isn’t chosen as the Broncos? coach?
DeMeco Ryans is the strongest name that fits the dark horse candidate perception. Many Broncos fans have expressed their hesitation toward another first-year head coach because of the previous failed experiments with Vance Joseph, Vic Fangio, and Nathaniel Hackett. There’s an old saying that “you can’t let the fear of striking out keep you from playing the game,” and this sentiment should still apply to the Denver Broncos.

At one point in time, every single head coach in the NFL was once a first-time head coach. Some coaches around the NFL are currently on their second stints as the leader of their respective franchises. Ryans’ former experience as a player, how well he’s commanded the San Francisco 49ers defense as a coach, and his leadership traits have been raved about around league circles. There is an argument to be had that Ryans is actually the hottest head coaching candidate in this cycle.

With some of the reports coming out that Sean Payton may not have much of a coaching market in this actual cycle, Ryans’ could be the Broncos’ top candidate, especially considering there hasn’t been any information coming out of Dove Valley about second interviews.

What’s the coaching staff that’s going to get the Broncos to the playoffs in 2023? HC OC DC?
This is a great question. The Denver Broncos have been desperately searching for the right coaching staff to lead the team back to the postseason. If the Broncos are truly set on DeMeco Ryans, it would best serve the team to have an experienced offensive coordinator. Perhaps this is where Jim Caldwell or David Shaw come into play as the OC? Defensively, Ryans has done a great job with the 49ers, but I also believe that he would respect what Ejiro Evero has done as a defensive coordinator. 

So much would be contingent in my opinion on whether or not Evero gets offered a head coaching job elsewhere or wants to return to Denver.