Connect with us

Denver Broncos

Is the Denver Broncos’ coaching opening the 4th best?

ENGLEWOOD — As pitches go, Green Bay promises a Pro Bowl quarterback of now; Cleveland has a Pro Bowl quarterback of the future. The New York Jets have about $100 million in salary cap space burning in general manager Mike Maccagnan’s back pocket.

So conventional wisdom says the Broncos are probably no better than the fourth-most appealing NFL coaching job out there, although conventional wisdom has been wrong before.

In a perfect world, a new coach wants, ideally, stability at quarterback, stability in the front office, stability in ownership, some roster flexibility and the best chance to make the biggest impact right away. Given those five criteria, here’s how we ranked the NFL vacancies as of New Year’s Day:

1. Green Bay

2018 record: 6-9-1.

Ownership/management status: Steady, although sliding into some flux. Longtime general manager Ted Thompson was replaced last summer by protégé Brian Gutekunst, and the immediate returns raised more eyebrows than hopes.

Quarterback situation: Blessed? Cursed? Both? Aaron Rodgers still has plenty of gas in the tank. But in order to utilize a Hall of Fame arm, you’re going to have to navigate a Hall of Fame ego, too.

Projected cap room in 2019, via $42.7 million.

Can I win right away? Heck, yeah. And you’ll be expected to.

2. Cleveland

2018 record: 7-8-1.

Ownership/management status: Solid. General manager John Dorsey — another guy with Ted Thompson ties — has seen this act before, having spent decades with the Packers and helping to get the current Chiefs revival launched a few years back. Dorsey’s management style isn’t for everyone, but he has a strong track record of eyeballing college talent, which means a young, talented roster isn’t going to get less talented anytime soon.

Quarterback situation: Promising. In Year 1, Baker Mayfield set a rookie passing record for touchdowns (27), surpassing Peyton Manning and Russell Wilson on the first-year charts, and the ceiling hasn’t even been scratched yet. After years of searching, Cleveland finally appears to have its franchise signal-caller locked down and can start to build a roster around him.

Projected cap room in 2019, via $84.9 million.

Can I win right away? Probably. Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger isn’t getting any younger, and the Bengals (see below) could go any number of ways from here on out.

3. N.Y. Jets

2018 record: 4-12.

Ownership/management status: Workable. Maccagnan whiffed on former coach Todd Bowles after a promising start, but given that he’s under contract through 2020, the heat is on to get this one right. With a gifted rookie quarterback already in place and a ton of salary cap room to play around with, there’s a chance to remake a roster — and a culture — in your image.

Quarterback situation: Intriguing. Sam Darnold’s performances were more up and down (17 touchdown passes, 15 picks in 13 starts) than Mayfield’s were in Cleveland, but the former USC star had fewer quality complementary pieces around him, too. What could No. 14 pull off with a better supporting cast, you wonder?

Projected cap room in 2019, via $95.6 million.

Can I win right away? As long as Tom Brady and Bill Belichick are cashing checks in Foxborough, the short-term returns figure to be limited. On the plus side, Brady’s competitive window — he turns 42 next August — is limited, too.

4. Denver

2018 record: 6-10.

Ownership/management status: Complicated. Think “Game of Thrones,” only with fewer dragons and more lawyers. General manager John Elway is the face in the mirror and the face of the franchise, but several corners of the fan base are becoming less convinced that’s a good thing.

Quarterback situation: Dicey. The best signal-callers in town are all over 40 and retired, and the search for a worthy successor is the boulder Elway and Joe Ellis have struggled to push up the hill for years now. Case Keenum is under contract through next year, and most corners of the fan base are convinced that’s not a good thing at all.

Projected cap room in 2019, via $42.3 million.

Can I win right away? Unless Patrick Mahomes and Philip Rivers are abducted by aliens over the winter, probably not. A division with this much quarterback depth demands you to counter it with either an elite defense or a signal-caller who can keep up in a shootout. At the moment, the Broncos have neither.

5. Cincinnati

2018 record: 6-10.

Ownership/management status: Unique. Like the town in which they play, the Bengals loathe wholesale change, which explains, in part, why Marvin Lewis hung in as long as he did. Cincinnati is still a family-run organization where the circle of trust is relatively small. Nobody got the critical selection of quarterback and coach (or both) wrong like the Bengals did for a generation before Lewis showed up, so it’s anybody’s guess whether the recent three-year downturn is a harbinger of a slide back to the Bungles days of old.

Quarterback situation: Fragile. On the plus side, Andy Dalton is signed through 2020. At 31, the arm is sound (21 touchdowns in 11 starts this past fall), but are the legs and injured right thumb willing? Top target A.J. Green turns 31 next summer and is signed only through 2019.

Projected cap room in 2019, via $53.2 million.

Can I win right away? Unlikely. Besides Dalton and Green, defensive bulwarks such as Geno Atkins, Carlos Dunlap and Michael Johnson have either hit age 30 or are fast approaching it.

6. Arizona

2018 record: 3-13.

Ownership/management status: Tenuous. General manager Steve Keim had been regarded as one of the league’s savvier execs, but his karma — and picks — have brought diminishing returns without Bruce Arians around. The handling of the Steve Wilks saga was a head-scratcher from top to bottom.

Quarterback situation: Interesting. Like Darnold, Josh Rosen’s first year in the league was all over the map — and like Darnold, he didn’t have a lot of support, especially along the offensive line. Will the No. 1 overall pick bring the right reinforcements?

Projected cap room in 2019, via $62.6 million.

Can I win right away? Not without a heck of a lot of help. Or breaks.

7. Tampa Bay

2018 record: 5-11.

Ownership/management status: Sketchy. General manager Jason Licht has a year left on his contract and has lost the benefit of the doubt from local fans and pundits after whiffing on both Lovie Smith and Dirk Koetter.

Quarterback situation: Toxic. Two words: Jameis Winston.

Projected cap room in 2019, via $13.9 million.

Can I win right away? Maybe. If you think you can keep Winston on the straight and narrow, this gig’s for you. But good luck with that.

8. Miami

2018 record: 7-9.

Ownership/management status: Demoralizing. League sources told the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel that owner Stephen Ross feels “nobody is safe,” for starters. And Ross recently tweaked the power structure so that coach Adam Gase’s replacement will report to general manager Chris Grier rather than to Ross himself.

Quarterback situation: Messy. The buzz is that the franchise is likely to move on from former franchise signal-caller Ryan Tannehill, who turns 31 next July. But no Plan B option out there — free agency, the draft — looks especially promising right now, a scenario that could potentially let more water into an already leaky boat.

Projected cap room in 2019, via $14.0 million.

Can I win right away? Are you kidding? If it’s not a long-term deal, it’s a hard pass. Period.

Source Link

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

More in Denver Broncos