With the search for a head coach in the rearview mirror, Sean Payton will be tasked with putting together the best staff possible to lead the Denver Broncos to future success. While many are focused on who the next defensive coordinator may be, there is no position on Payton’s offensive staff more vital than who he hires as his offensive line coach.

Why is the offensive line coach so important?

Besides the head coach and play-caller, there isn’t a more important member of the coaching staff than an offensive line coach.

This is for a multitude of reasons, but just on the surface level, there isn’t a coaching position teaching more players on the field at once. Being able to communicate and teach a multitude of different players isn’t an easy task.

Nearly half of the offensive players on the field are taught directly by the offensive line coach, making the responsibility he has even more vital to the team’s success. No two people learn the same way, and how players use technique across the offensive line is vastly different depending on the position. For example, an offensive guard’s responsibilities are entirely different than offensive tackles.

To go along with that, the offensive line is a very tough position group to teach in today’s NFL. While the saying goes, “everything starts up front” applies to all levels of football, the college game and NFL game are vastly different — what these players are asked to do at the collegiate level often doesn’t correlate easily to the NFL. Pairing that with how NFL practices are becoming more and more strict regarding how much physical contact is allowed — it makes it increasingly difficult to prepare players at a position like the offensive line, where contact is inherently part of everything they’re supposed to do.

Offensive line coaches are also tasked with how to block and counter against all of the exotic looks various defensive coordinators throw at them throughout the season. While blocking may look the same to the average fan, this could not be further from the truth. Depending on the look the defense is giving them and the play the offensive coordinator is running — blocking responsibilities change down to down.

Because of how difficult the job is now and is increasingly becoming, the value of having a really good coach to both prepare the starters and develop the newcomers, despite the difficulties, is indispensable to any staff in the league.

Possible candidates for the Denver Broncos offensive line coach job

Dan Roushar
Dan Roushar is a veteran offensive line coach with previous ties to Sean Payton, making him an easy selection as one of the Broncos’ top options to fill this void on their coaching staff.

Roushar’s days as offensive line coach can be tracked all the way back to 1989 when he was working for the University of Butler but more notably — was the offensive line coach for the New Orleans Saints under Payton, starting in 2016. During that time, he consistently had one of the best offensive lines in football, helping the Saints’ offense have one of the most productive units year in and year out.

Roushar can also be credited with being the primary coach who helped many offensive linemen develop like Ryan Ramcyzk, Erik McCoy, and Cesar Ruiz — players who were drafted to the Saints while he was the offensive line coach.

Despite having a lot of success coaching the offensive line, his experience doesn’t end there. As a matter of fact, he’s coached everything from tight ends to running backs but also has experience as a collegiate play-caller and was the Saints’ run game coordinator this past season under Dennis Allen.

Throughout the course of his coaching career, Roushar has become highly respected — since being released by the Saints, he’s already had an interview with the Miami Dolphins for their vacant offensive line coach position.

With ties to Payton, the Denver Broncos should have a strong chance at enticing Roushar, but there will be competition for his services this offseason.

Could Mike Munchak return to Denver?
Mike Munchak should be on the list of candidates for the Broncos’ vacant offensive line coach job, signifying a potential return to the team.

Munchak is credited with being one of the league’s best offensive line coaches, but before he became a great coach, he was a fantastic player himself. During his playing days in the NFL, Munchak was a nine-time Pro Bowler, two-time first-team All-Pro selection, and has since been inducted into the Tennessee Titans Ring of Fame.

His experience as a player has helped him excel in his coaching career, finding a great deal of success since his first coaching gig as an offensive assistant for the Houston Oilers in 1994. Since then, he helped aid in the development of some of the league’s best offensive lines during his time with the Titans and Pittsburgh Steelers — while also having a few years of head coaching experience.

Eventually, Munchak found his way onto the Broncos coaching staff under former head coach Vic Fangio — and can be credited with the development of several key players, but none as important as Garett Bolles. Prior to Munchak’s arrival, Broncos fans were skeptical of his development and trajectory until Munchak arrived — helping him develop into a player who committed far fewer penalties and sacks given up, leading to a contract extension.

While there are no clear ties between the highly respected offensive line coach and Payton, the reason Munchak landed with the Denver Broncos, was due to his desire to live in Colorado near his daughter. With Munchak still residing in Denver, it would be wise for Payton to reach out and gauge Munchak’s interest in returning to the team.

Doug Marrone
When taking a look at prospective coaches for the Broncos’ offensive line, Doug Marrone, the least likely of candidates, is an extremely well-respected offensive line coach that also has previous ties to Payton.

After beginning his coaching career in 1992, Marrone has coached in multiple roles at both the NFL and college level. As a matter of fact, Marrone served as the head coach for the Jacksonville Jaguars from 2017 through 2020, but there is no doubt that his bread and butter is coaching the offensive line.

In total, Marrone has 18 years of experience coaching offensive line at a high level and was Payton’s first-ever hire at the position when he took the Saints head coach job in 2006. Marrone also served as the team’s offensive coordinator — leading one to believe that there is a strong tie between the two.

While Marrone would be a slam-dunk hire, the Denver Broncos would have to submit a request to interview him — largely in part due to the fact the veteran offensive line coach currently possesses that role with the New Orleans Saints. The move would be considered a lateral move, which gives New Orleans the power to allow him to interview or block the request.

Nonetheless, it may be worth a shot because the Broncos’ next offensive line coach will have such an important job helping turn around an offensive unit that struggled mightily in 2022.