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Broncos head coach search moves to ‘hot’ candidate Brian Flores

KUSA – I called two people, two days apart, to ask what they thought about Brian Flores, the New England Patriots’ defensive coordinator who will interview with the Broncos’ head coach search committee Saturday.

Both people started their Flores testimony the same way.

He’s a leader of men.

And neither person I asked was Matt Russell, the Broncos’ director of player personnel who is the connection to Flores. In 2004, Russell was in his third season as a Patriots scout when Flores broke in as a scouting assistant.

Flores is this year’s hot coordinator – he had head coach interviews with Miami and Green Bay on Friday and he will sit down with the Broncos’ four-man interview group and Cleveland on Saturday.

With the Broncos, Flores is considered a long shot. He is a one-year defensive coordinator with no head coaching experience. The Broncos just fired Vance Joseph, who was a one-year defensive coordinator with no head coaching experience when he got the top coaching job two years ago.

The Broncos don’t figure to go there again. Then again, the Broncos didn’t interview Sean McVay two years ago because he was similar to Josh McDaniels as a candidate.

The Broncos’ list of candidates is a diversified mix. It has three coaches eligible for the senior discount at Denny’s – Vic Fangio, 60; Chuck Pagano, 58; and Mike Munchak, 58 – and two coaches who aren’t yet Mike Gundy’s idea of a man (“I’m 40!”) – Zac Taylor is 35 and Flores turns 38 next month.

Pagano and Munchak are former NFL head coaches. Flores, Pagano and Fangio are defensive coaches while Taylor and Munchak are offensive coaches.

Flores, Broncos fans should know, is no McDaniels. He walks into a room and commands presence. He is considered a taskmaster – tough on his players, but his players respond. Fine by Broncos’ general manager John Elway, who last year called his team, “soft.”

Flores has been Bill Belichick’s safeties coach for four seasons and linebackers coach for three. New England’s defense ranked 21st in yards allowed this season, but No. 7 in points allowed.

He will meet Saturday with a Broncos’ contingent of Elway, Russell, director of team administration Mark Thewes and executive vice president of public relations Patrick Smyth.

Broncos’ president Joe Ellis will also meet with Flores in the Boston area where the Patriots are preparing for their second-round AFC playoff game next week against either the Texans, Ravens or Chargers.

The Broncos interviewed Pagano on Wednesday in Denver and Taylor near Los Angeles on Thursday before returning to meet with Munchak on Friday in Denver and were scheduled to fly to Boston on Friday night to see Flores on Saturday morning.

Elway and his group will wrap up his interviews with Fangio in Chicago on Monday. The Broncos’ next head coach could be known by Tuesday or Wednesday of next week.

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