The two Broncos Ring of Famers, who work for NFL Network and Fox, respectively, voiced their confidence this week in Executive Vice President of Football Operations/General Manager John Elway’s ability to find Gary Kubiak’s successor.
Neither thinks Elway will have a problem filling what Lynch calls “the best job out there for any coach.”
“The culture that Pat Bowlen and John Elway have carried forth, it’s all about winning championships,” Lynch said. “I think a lot of organizations pay lip service to that. There, they live it. I think coaches are going to be chomping at the bit to have an opportunity. Whoever gets it is going to be really lucky.”
Deciding on the next coach to lead the Broncos won’t be easy, however, and Lynch and Davis vary in their assessments of whom would be best equipped to lead Denver back to a Super Bowl.
“I think [they need] someone who shares in that belief that it’s about winning championships,” Lynch said. “Of course, there’s an element of we’re going to do it the right way, we’re going to do it with character and things like that, but single minded in that’s your job. Your job is to go win a championship.”
And while other teams may overthink decisions, in Lynch’s opinion, Elway has the confidence in his decision-making to “pull the trigger” when he finds the right guy.
“That’s one of his great strengths,” Lynch said. “He’s got a great feel for people and what it takes to be successful, so they’re in good hands, the Broncos are, with the guy leading the search. And he’s going to find someone great for the job.”
Davis already has a couple candidates in mind he feels could be good for the Broncos — and both have Denver connections.
Davis singled out Atlanta Falcons offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan, whose father, Mike, coached the Broncos, and Bills interim coach Anthony Lynn, a former Denver fullback, as potential options.
“I think that’s always good to bring someone back who has ties to the organization and franchise,” Davis said, “because they’re not coming in trying to figure out how it works with the city, how it works with the team and the structure of the organization. Even though Pat Bowlen’s not day-to-day, the organization still has a family feel to it and a tightness to it.”
Yet even as Lynch and Davis look ahead to the Broncos’ next coach, they took a moment to pay thanks to Kubiak and his service to the organization. Both players spent time in Denver with Kubiak, who was Denver’s offensive coordinator at the time.
Davis, who said he hasn’t yet talked to Kubiak but plans to in the near future, said he has fond memories with his former coach and he was glad to see Kubiak handle the high expectations that came with last season’s team.
“He wasn’t a rah-rah guy,” Davis said. “That wasn’t his deal. But he knew exactly when to push the button, and that, to me, is crucial. He knew when to get on you. He knew when to lay off you. He knew when to let you guys rest. He knew when to [change] practice schedules. He just had a feel and a touch for being a coach. Of course, he was a brilliant offensive coordinator with all those things he brought to the table.”
Lynch agreed in Davis’ assessment. And when Kubiak moved on to Houston in 2006 as a first-time head coach, it was a big loss to the team — not just from a football standpoint but a personal one, as well. Lynch, who said he wasn’t sure the Broncos ever were the same after losing Kubiak, had received a warm welcome from the coach immediately after moving to Denver in 2004. Kubiak and his wife, Rhonda, were some of the first people to reach out, and they recommended a school for Lynch’s children.
When Kubiak finally made his way back to Denver in 2015, Lynch was thrilled for both personal and football reasons.
“When he came back, it was so welcome,” Lynch said, “because you knew not only were you getting a really qualified coach, you were getting one of the better people I’d ever met in the game. Ultimately I’m really proud of him for making a decision I’m sure was tough because he loves it.”
Lynch found himself with a similar situation regarding retirement when he left Denver. He said his heart wasn’t in it and — like Kubiak — he wasn’t wired to compete without being able to give his all.
“When he coaches, he’s passionate,” Davis said. “He’ll give it his all. I wish him well. I hope this is temporary. I hope he goes back and finds some time to relax and then realizes the game needs him and then comes back.”
Regardless, both emphasized the respect that Kubiak earned during his decades-long coaching career in the NFL.
“I have never heard anybody speak bad about Gary Kubiak, and that says a lot,” Davis said. “That says a lot at that level.”