George Paton’s direction for this Denver Broncos team will be tied directly to the hire of the next head coach. He has faced some criticism with the amount of defensive minded coaches he has requested interviews with, as a large throng of fans are pounding the table for an offensive guru. On this list, another defensive coach named Jonathan Gannon has seemingly come out of the woodwork as someone who will receive real consideration for the Broncos coaching gig.

Experience and History

Jonathan Gannon was an extremely talented multi-sport athlete growing up in Cleveland Ohio. He played wide receiver and defensive back for the Saint Ignatius High School Wildcats before taking his talents to Louisville where he suffered a career ending hip injury, comparable to the hip injury that ended Bo Jackson’s career.

In 2004, under the tenure of Bobby Petrino, Gannon was brought on as a volunteer student coach as a way to keep his scholarship intact, and sparking the new dream of coaching in Gannon. He stayed on with Petrino, earning the trust of the coaching staff and when Petrino was hired to be the Atlanta Falcons head coach in 2007, he was asked to join the Falcons as the defensive quality control coach.

In 2009 he took a quick dip into scouting as a college scout for the St. Louis Rams but quickly reverted back to coaching in 2012 when he was offered a job with the Tennessee Titans as their defensive quality control coach, but in 2014 George Paton and Jonathan Gannon would cross paths as he was hired by the Minnesota Vikings as their assistant defensive backs coach.

Gannon would serve as a Vikings coach for four successful seasons but decided to move on, taking a role as the Indianapolis Colts defensive backs and cornerbacks coach in 2018 under then head coach Frank Reich. However, in 2021 Gannon finally broke into the next level of coaching when he was named the Philadelphia Eagles defensive coordinator.

A fit for the Broncos?

As the fit with the Denver Broncos is concerned Gannon has a lot to prove beginning with his leadership. Players seem to really gravitate to the young coach, having just turned 39 this January, but it’s debatable whether he has enough seasoning and savoir faire to be able to come in and command a veteran locker room. The young is a smooth operator and knows what to say though and might just have enough decorum to win over Paton and crew.

An argument can be made that Gannon has not seen enough success in the league to become the captain of the ship in Denver. The Broncos are a quarterback away from becoming a real contender for the AFC West, if not the Super Bowl. Winning in this league is not something that comes by accident or that coaches stumble into, its comes from methodical game planning and attention to detail.

Too many times Vic Fangio was caught unaware mid-game and made gaffes that cost his team. Going through the growing pains of inexperience in game time decision making and time management was tough for all parties involved with Fangio and could also be the case with a first-time head coach in Gannon. Broncos Country might not be willing to go down that road again.

The other question has less to do with Gannon himself and more to do with the direction of the Denver Broncos. Why bring in an inexperienced defensive coach, following the exact same blueprint that was implemented following the exit of Gary Kubiak?

The sentiment of finding “the next young hotshot coach” is well-documented. Everyone wants to find the next Sean McVay or Zac Taylor but the Broncos aren’t in need of an overhaul. They don’t need an infusion of youth, they need a fixture that the players on this roster will be able to behold with some esteem and count on to make the right decisions in the face of adversity. They need someone who can coach them to some wins in tight games.

Gannon is a bright young mind and will inevitably find a head coaching job before long, but the fit with Denver seems to be a square hole, round peg situation. It’s like talk-to-text, the message gets send but it’s always just off.