Two down and one to go for John Elway in his search for Gary Kubiak’s successor.
The Denver Broncos general manager tweeted Saturday that he “spent the morning with Kyle Shanahan in Atlanta. He’s very bright coach who’s had a tremendous year and has a great future.”
The question is: Will that future be in Denver, where his father, Mike Shanahan, was the Broncos coach from 1998-2008?
Elway and his small search committee met with Shanahan, the 37-year-old Falcons offensive coordinator, a day after interviewing Chiefs special teams coach Dave Toub, 54, in Kansas City.
Elway is searching for a coach after Kubiak’s resignation Monday over health concerns a year after leading Denver to a Super Bowl trophy.
Shanahan, who runs the same West Coast offense that Kubiak did in Denver but with some twists and a deeper roster, has also drawn interest from the Rams, 49ers and Jaguars for their head coaching vacancies.
Next up on Denver’s docket is Dolphins defensive coordinator Vance Joseph, 44, whose wild-card team plays at Pittsburgh on Sunday. Depending on the outcome of that game, Joseph’s interview will either be in Miami or Denver next week.
Joseph, who impressed Elway during an interview the last time Denver’s head coaching job was open, has just one year’s experience as a coordinator in the NFL compared to Shanahan’s seven seasons with Washington, Cleveland and Atlanta.
Elway said Monday his top offseason priority, ahead even of fixing myriad problems on offense, was keeping his defense dominant.
Denver’s dazzling defense, led by All-Pro first-teamers Von Miller, Chris Harris Jr. and Aqib Talib , brought home the Lombardi Trophy last year but was unable to make up for an offense that regressed in 2016 behind a leaky line and poor pass protection that stifled young QBs Trevor Siemian and Paxton Lynch.
Elway said his next coach will have to be able to develop the raw quarterbacks.
“I think with the two young guys there is no question that it’s going to be a topic of conversation of, ‘OK, how do we get these two players better?'” Elway said. “For me, and having played the game, I know how important the relationship is to have with the quarterback.”
Elway stressed, however, that “the one thing I want to make sure is that we don’t take a step back on defense … It’s just as important, if not more important, to get better on defense than it is to get better offensively. The offense will come.”