With the retirement of Gary Kubiak I came across this list of all the past Denver Bronco coaches (not counting interim coaches like Eric Studesville). More on Kubiak in a bit. I've followed this team since I was a kid in the 60's - here's my opinion on each past Bronco coach:
1. Frank Filchock 1960-61 - before my time
2. Jack Faulkner 1962-1964 - ditto but he did lead the hapless Broncos to a 6-1 record his first year including a sweep of the Raiders before the team ran out of gas (finishing 7-7)
3. Mac Speedie 1964-1966 - made the infamous Jackie Lee trade. From an old LA times article:
"The Broncos traded the Oilers a first round draft pick and Bud McFadin, one of the top defensive tackles in the AFL and in exchange, the Oilers would give the Broncos Jacky Lee...for two seasons. At which point, Lee would then return to Houston!" Yikes! Worst trade in Bronco history.
4. Ray Malavasi 1966 - didn't do much here but later had success with the Rams. leading them to the Super Bowl
5. Lou Saban 1967-1971 (pictured above) - a better coach than most Bronco fans would admit. Improved the Bronco infrastructure. Featured Floyd Little in his offenses, as he would later do for the Bills with OJ Simpson. Trading two #1's for Steve Tensi was Lou's big mistake. Saban's overall record was a disappointment here.
6. John Ralston 1972-1976 - great talent evaluator, some of the best Bronco drafts were under Ralston. Not so great of a team leader, as vets did not buy into to his college "rah rah" style, which led to his ouster in a player revolt.
7. Red Miller 1977-1980 - the opposite of Ralston - a great motivator, suspect talent evaluator. Will always have a place in Broncos lore in leading the 77 team to the Super Bowl. Betting on Matt Robinson to be his franchise qb did him in.
8. Dan Reeves 1981-1992 - led the Broncos to 3 super bowls, recruited Mike Shanahan as an assistant. A lot of his success could be attributed to Elway, who Dan did not have a role in acquiring (that was the then owner Edgar Kaiser's doing) Still a good coach overall.
9. Wade Phillips 1993-1994 - questionable time management in games, but under Wade Shannon Sharpe emerged after not having much of a role in the Reeves offense. A much better d-coordinator than head coach.
10. Mike Shanahan 1995-2008 - brilliant offensive strategist, good motivator, questionable in player personnel decisions (draft & free agency). Still the best coach the Broncos have ever had. Thanks for the 2 World Championships, Mike.
11. Josh McDaniels 2009-2010 - disaster. enough said.
12. John Fox 2011-2014 - too conservative (taking a knee at the end of regulation in baltimore playoff loss) A decent manager of player egos though and he did bring on Adam Gase, now with the Dolphins and a rising young star in the NFL coaching ranks. Peyton Manning had a lot to do with Fox's success.
13. Gary Kubiak 2015-2016 - like Fox conservative but a good people manager. Bringing in Wade as d-coordinator was brilliant (though that and the player personnel decisions on defense were more GM Elway's doing) Kubiak will always have a place in Broncos history for leading the team to the SB 50 win.
And owner Pat Bowlen had a huge role in the Broncos successful years under coaches 8-13, never going cheap when it came to player acquisitions. The current Rockies and Avalanche/Nuggets owners could learn a lot from Bowlen's deep pockets and hands off ownership style.
As for who the next coach should be, I like Kyle Shanahan because:
1. His offensive game plan for the Falcons/Broncos game this year was the best I've seen against the tough Denver defense. Not just one or two big plays but the Falcons consistently took advantage of mismatches.
2. His youth doesn't concern me. This isn't the 2nd coming of Josh McDaniels. Kyle's been coaching with more than one NFL team (not just the Patriots like Josh) - he's been an offensive coordinator in the league since 2008. Being the son of Mike Shanahan Kyle has to know about the Broncos culture, too - he's not going to do a complete overhaul like Josh tried to do.
3. Speaking of Mike Shanahan, Mike is one of the best offensive game planners I've ever seen. If Kyle comes it would be great to get Mike, too, in some capacity. Let Mike study opponents in his Denver castle and feed ideas to Kyle. Just keep Mike out of the draft room.
4. Kyle would likely keep the defensive staff intact and let Wade handle the defense, while he applies his new ideas to the Broncos offense. I like the idea of hiring an innovative, young offensive minded coach given the Broncos strength on defense and weakness on offense.
While I am sad to see Gary Kubiak go, I think the Broncos have the opportunity to be better next year if they hire the right head coach. I'm hoping it's Kyle Shanahan.