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Denver Broncos head coach search now includes surprise candidate

Vincent Frank

Denver Broncos general manager George Paton is casting a wide net to find a replacement for recently-fired head coach Vic Fangio.

For the long-time personnel man, adding someone to the mix in which he has a personal relationship could make some sense. Remember, Paton did not bring in Fangio. The former head coach was hired years before Paton made his way to Denver from the Minnesota Vikings.

We’re now hearing reports that the Broncos have requested to interview a surprise candidate for their vacancy. According to NFL Media’s Tom Pelissero, that comes in the form of first-year Philadelphia Eagles defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon.

There’s some connection here. Patton and Gannon worked together with the Vikings when the latter served as their assistant defensive backs coach from 2014-17. However, the lack of experinece is what makes this surprising. After all, Gannon is just finishing up his first season as a coordinator at any level.

Related: Denver Broncos head coach candidates

Denver Broncos going against the grain with head coach search?

denver broncos head coach search: jonathan gannon
Dec 21, 2021; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Philadelphia Eagles head coach Nick Sirianni (R) and defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon (L) before action against the Washington Football Team at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

None of this is to say Jonathan Gannon is not an up-and-comer within the coaching ranks. He is. The 38-year-old Ohio native led a suspect Eagles defense to a top-10 finish during the regular season. It’s one of the primary reasons they earned a surprise trip to the NFL Playoffs.

Prior to that, Gannon coached big-name Vikings cornerbacks Xavier Rhodes and Terence Newman. During his four seasons as the Vikings’ assistant defensive backs coach, they finished in the top 10 against the pass three times.

However, it now seems readily apparent that the Denver Broncos are looking to change it up after a veteran coach in Fangio didn’t pan out during his three-year stint with the organization.

In addition to Gannon, that includes Denver requesting permission to speak with New England Patriots inside linebackers coach Jarod Mayo and Dallas Cowboys offensive coordinator Kellen Moore. Both are under 40 and considered pups when it comes to NFL coaching circles.

This change in philosophy has already put a wrench into the Broncos’ search for a new head coach. It’s going to lead to some more interesting names being bandied about after the team missed the playoffs for a sixth consecutive season.

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