The winds of change are blowing through the Mile High City.  Having wrapped up their regular season, the Denver Broncos did not receive their customary invitation to the postseason dance.  Complicating matters further, after the surprising resignation of Gary Kubiak, they now find themselves without a head coach.

Kubiak will be a difficult man to replace.  He was adored by players, fans and the front office alike.  He was a company man, having spent his formative years as both a player and an assistant in Denver.  He was a feel-good, homecoming story, that delivered the ultimate return on investment in his very first season at the helm.

How do you replace a man like Kubiak?

That is the million-dollar question.  Sure, there will be plenty of interest in the position, as the Broncos, despite their failure to make the playoffs this season, stand a decent chance of competing for a Super Bowl as soon as next year. It is not an issue of who will want to come to Broncos Country, but instead who will be the best person to maintain the organization’s standard of excellence.

Many have suggested that having an experienced coach at the helm could behoove the Broncos.  For the most part, I agree with this notion. Hiring an up-and-comer would be a risk. Perhaps too risky for a team that is already ready to contend.

The team that the next coach will inherit won’t look all that different than the one Kubiak took on two offseasons ago.  As such, let’s look at what made him successful.

  1. Familiarity

With Kubiak, general manager John Elway went with what he knew.  Kubiak had been Elway’s backup, roommate and offensive coordinator.  Elway knew the man he was getting in Kubiak, and knew that was someone that he could work in concert with.

  1. Attitude

The issue with John Fox was that he would rather take a knee than take a chance.  Elway wanted someone that played to win, not someone that played not to lose.  Kubiak went to war with his players, and would scratch and claw with every ounce of his being to get the win, which is what the Broncos need.

  1. Personal investment

Kubiak didn’t have to develop a passion for the Broncos when he took the head coaching job. It had been there for decades. He was all-in from day one, which spread throughout the locker room, and was paramount to the Broncos winning Super Bowl 50.

  1. Scheme

Bill Belichick said prior to the matchup with the New England Patriots, that the Broncos have been calling the same plays for decades.  While that wasn’t necessarily always the case, it is worth mentioning that when the Broncos won their three Super Bowls, they were indeed running essentially a variation of the same offense.

These aren’t all of the reasons Kubiak was successful, nor do they represent all of the reasons he got the job, but they all played a large part in both.  With these in mind, I feel that one person, above all others, despite his lack of experience, is the best person to lead the Broncos going forward.

Kyle Shanahan.

Though he has never worked for the Denver Broncos, Shanahan did grow up around the team.  He spent his formative years in Colorado, attending Cherry Creek High School while his father Mike Shanahan coached the Broncos to two Super Bowl titles.

Now, it is worth mentioning that Mike Shanahan’s relationship with the Broncos organization soured at (and shortly thereafter) the end of his tenure with the team.  Should that be enough to keep them from hiring Kyle? Absolutely not.  As they say, winning cures all.

Shanahan also grew up in the same system that was used by both his father and Kubiak.  He served as a wide receivers coach, quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator under Kubiak with the Houston Texans, then served as offensive coordinator under his father for the Washington Redskins.

Now, we must look at what prevented the Broncos from repeating as Super Bowl champions.  All eyes should be fixed on the offense.  Though Shanahan’s scheme would be undoubtedly similar to Kubiak’s, he has shown to be very innovative in how it is executed.

During the Broncos loss to the Atlanta Falcons in week 5, it was Shanahan that proved to be the difference.  His offensive gameplan was a thing of beauty.  The way the Falcons used movement to get playmakers matched up against linebackers, then exploited the mismatch and attacked the middle of the field was ingenious. To the Broncos detriment, the league took notice of this as well, using the same template to beat the Broncos later in the season.

Especially if Wade Philips is retained as defensive coordinator, the Broncos would likely prefer an offensive-minded coach.  Of the available coaching candidates, Shanahan may have the second best offensive mind (trailing Josh McDaniels, who should not be considered by the Broncos for obvious reasons).  Shanahan is known for his work with quarterbacks, which could also prove helpful for the Broncos.

The final point worth making is that, by all accounts, Shanahan is well-liked and respected by players. Under his tutelage, Matt Ryan has found his form once again, and is playing at an All-Pro level.  Ryan has said that he wants Shanahan to get a head coaching gig, just not for a few more years.  Considering they have only had two years together, the fact that Ryan wants him to stick around badly, illustrates the impact he is capable of making.

The Broncos are only a season removed from a Super Bowl victory.  They aren’t that far away from competing for yet another Lombardi Trophy.  As such, they don’t need an overhaul, just a few adjustments.  Most candidates will want to make their own mark, but that in itself could prove to be to the Broncos detriment.  The Broncos need a coach that can build upon the strong foundation already in place.  There’s no better man to do that than Kyle Shanahan.