ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — This was not supposed to happen. For the fourth time in six years, general manager John Elway finds himself seeking a new head coach.
Elway praised Vance Joseph's work ethic and energy but admitted, "we didn't win enough games." Elway accepted responsibility for the current mess. The Broncos posted consecutive seasons with double-figure losses for the first time since 1967.
"The first thing you do in this situation (after firing the coach) is look at the guy the mirror. I am just as responsible for this, if not more than anyone else because it's my job to win football games," Elway said. "I am responsible for this."
Elway prefers an experienced coach and believes this remains as desirable a job as it was two years ago. That is debatable given the unsettled ownership issue, the recent spiral and the expectations.
"I have full confidence that the ownership situation is going to get straightened away. If I say 'rebuild' it sounds like an excuse. We want to go into training camp and compete for a playoff spot. You can call it whatever you want. I have not lowered my expectations," Elway said. "I hate losing. The older I get the more I dislike losing."
The Broncos have requested permission to interview New England's Brian Flores, Pittsburgh's Mike Munchak and Chicago's Vic Fangio. Others available who would not require permission: Mike McCarthy and Chuck Pagano. Both are expected to be on the Broncos' list. However, McCarthy could have his pick of jobs, including Cleveland. Given Elway's desire for experience, it makes a college coach unlikely, but the Broncos could hire a younger coach for the offensive coordinator role. CEO Joe Ellis said it's important for Elway to conduct a thorough search and spend one-on-one time with the candidates.
Elway talked about former coach and current front office assistant Gary Kubiak staying in Denver. Atlanta was among the teams interested in hiring Kubiak as of this morning. Can the Broncos find a coaching role for Kubiak, even if it's not OC, but an offensive role that allows him to contribute during the week? Seems like that is now a possibility. Several assistants could stay even with a new coach.
Part of the issue with the Broncos is that multiple teams have a better quarterback situation. Elway seemed lukewarm on Case Keenum after he posted 18 touchdowns and 15 interceptions in his first season in Denver.
"Case is our quarterback right now," Elway said.