Kiz: Not to suggest the Broncos have stumbled their way down the road to nowhere in this coaching search, but does CEO Greg Penner have a phone number for Mike Shanahan? Sure, Papa Shanny is 70 years old and has grandkids to bounce on his knee, but the Broncos can’t seem to find anyone to take the job. Why is it every time I hear about Penner’s frustrating on-again, off-again wooing of everyone from Jim Harbaugh to DeMeco Ryans do the lyrics of “Call Me Maybe” by Carly Rae Jepsen echo in my ears?
Gabriel: Certainly the Broncos’ search has not proceeded the way either A) the franchise ran its search last year or B) the way most teams have done it this year. That doesn’t necessarily make it better or worse, just different. The opening salvo was relatively orderly — eight first-round interviews. But Penner and Company didn’t just narrow down the list to a smaller group of second-round interviews and then progress forward from there like some other teams have. And they did not publicize interviews or acknowledge them in any way as the Broncos did last year and most other teams have this winter.
Kiz: I believe Penner hoped to conduct this search as privately as possible, with little transparency to one of the most rabid fan bases in the NFL. Well, radio silence is also the way Stan Kroenke likes to do his business, so maybe that’s the Walmart corporate way. But if you don’t want to tell your story, it’s easy to lose control of the narrative when things get rough, whether it’s the long, twisted road of this Broncos coaching search or the even longer, more twisted road of Kroenke’s television dispute involving the Nuggets and Avalanche.
Gabriel: Right. The Broncos had a genuine interest in Ryans, the San Francisco defensive coordinator, into late last week, but it appears he is instead heading to Houston. Ryans played six years there and now is in line to be the Texans’ next head coach. Franchise executives like Penner aren’t going to come out and say, “Boy, losing out on DeMeco really threw a wrench in our search.” Has that ever happened? Nobody ever gets “turned down” because nobody makes an offer until they already know the answer. Coaching Search 101. Clearly, though, Denver liked Ryans. Without a round of second interviews on the books, it opens the door to a lot of questions about what’s next. Again, not good or bad, necessarily, just the way it goes.
Kiz: If the soap opera of this coaching search ends with the Broncos hiring Harbaugh, Dan Quinn or Sean Payton, all the drama will be forgotten long before training camp opens. But if Penner is waiting for the Super Bowl to be over so he can interview Eagles defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon, I’m afraid Broncos Country might suffer a meltdown while wondering if this new ownership group has a clue about how to build a successful football franchise. Please tell me the Broncos have a plan.
Gabriel: So far, there are no signs of the Broncos expanding their coaching search past the eight names originally reported as getting initial interviews. The people on the “you could have hired him at any time” list include David Shaw, Jim Caldwell and Payton for sure and, to a lesser degree — they’re still in the mix for other jobs and it takes two to tango — Ejiro Evero and Raheem Morris. Ryans is going to Houston. Harbaugh and Quinn have publicly taken their names out of the mix — though Harbaugh’s also had at least one other chat (in person, too) with Penner since Michigan announced his return. I’m not a math major, but that’s eight names. So, it’s either square one or an impending surprise. Probably depends on who you ask at this point.
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