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Old 01-11-2009, 11:11 AM   #1
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Default Jim Armstrong: Coaches' prize job? Right here in Denver

Coaches' prize job? Right here
The Broncos offer the best available opportunity in the league, thanks to ownership, facilities and a top quarterback.
By Jim Armstrong
The Denver Post



Pat Bowlen has built the reputation of the Broncos as a top-flight NFL organization.

It remains to be seen whether Broncos owner Pat Bowlen hires a great coach among the seven candidates he's considering. But he's right about one thing: The Broncos' job remains one of the prime stops on the NFL coaching carousel.

Yes, the shine on the logo has given way to rust. The Broncos, the top of the football food chain in the late 1990s, have won one playoff game in the past decade. Not only that, their defense is in need of a major rebuilding job, if not a federal bailout.

Doesn't matter, according to various sources throughout the league. What matters most is Bowlen's track record of allowing his head coach to go about his job armed with resources and unencumbered by the whims of a meddling owner.

Make no doubt, these are tough times at Dove Valley. Unprecedented times. The Broncos just finished their third consecutive season without a playoff appearance, a first in Bowlen's 25-year run as keeper of the team's competitive flame.

Now for the upside: Bowlen still is widely regarded as one of the best owners in the business. One of his former coaches, Dan Reeves, has a three-point checklist for a prospective head coach, and commitment from ownership is at the top. The other two? A top-tier quarterback and facilities that would make a free agent sign on the dotted line, not run for the airport.

"Denver has all three things you look for," Reeves said. "Any team looking for a new coach is going to have some issues, so I wouldn't be that concerned about the defense. The way the system is now, you can turn things around in a hurry. But you'd better have the right owner and you'd better have a quarterback. You don't have a quarterback, you don't have a chance."

Six jobs still open

The Broncos' opening is one of six on the NFL landscape. The other "Help Wanted" signs are hanging in Detroit, St. Louis, Oakland, Seattle and New York with the Jets. The Browns filled their opening last week when they hired former Jets coach Eric Mangini.

Asked to compare the Denver opening to the others, former Broncos tight end Shannon Sharpe said there wasn't a comparison.

"Denver is by far the best job out there," Sharpe said. "How often does a coach get a chance to inherit an offense like the Broncos'? It's going to take time to fix that defense, but you don't have to be one of the best in the league. If they get to the middle of the pack 13th, 14th, 15th I'd be very, very disappointed if they didn't win 10 games next season."

Mike Lombardi, a one-time Broncos executive, has seen the team's issues up close and personal. But he, too, is bullish on the Denver opening.

"One thing I do know is that Denver, despite its financial constraints, is the prize job in the NFL right now," Lombardi wrote on his NationalFootballPost.com blog. "It has a quarterback and a left tackle, and it can only get better on defense."

A quarterback and a left tackle. Jay Cutler and Ryan Clady. Two cornerstone-caliber players, young players whose best days figure to be ahead of them. That's what the Broncos have to offer their next head coach, plus nine draft picks this year to begin the rebuilding process on the defensive side of the ball.

Now about those financial constraints. . . . There's no denying money is an issue at Dove Valley, just as it is at countless other dots on the map in the United States of 2009. Bowlen's net worth isn't public knowledge, but he certainly isn't among the wealthiest NFL owners. Unlike many captains of industry who own other NFL franchises, most of Bowlen's wealth is wrapped up in the Broncos.

Then there's the matter of paying off Shanahan and the assistant coaches who were let go with him. Shana-han, if he doesn't coach in 2009, would cost Bowlen $6.5 million-$7 million. Figure in about $2 million for the other coaches and, say, $7 million-$8 million for the new head coach and a handful of assistants, and the petty-cash drawer isn't about to cover the tab.

When asked about the cost of firing one set of coaches and hiring another, Bowlen said, "That's my business."

Eye for talent trumps money


For the record, Bowlen has attracted a captive audience, namely the rest of the NFL. Stuff happens, it seems, when you shock your industry by firing a coach with more than $20 million left on his contract. But if the question is whether the financial burden Bowlen has created will impact the Broncos' ability to compete for talent, the answer among those interviewed by The Post was unanimous: an emphatic no.

"He has always been one of the best owners in the league," said former Chargers and Chiefs coach Marty Schottenheimer. "I imagine people are looking at it and wondering, but Pat's a guy who has always wanted to win. Having him as the owner there is a strength, absolutely."

The Broncos during Bowlen's ownership have been trendsetters in many matters, all of which have cost him money he didn't have to spend. Back in the day, he built a practice bubble at Dove Valley before they became common. When he hired Shanahan, he agreed to spring for hot lunches for players and coaches, a practice few if any NFL teams followed at the time. And he always has paid assistant coaches who've been let go with a year's salary if they couldn't find work, even if they didn't have time left on their contracts.

It's called class, says Sharpe.

"You always knew, when you played for the Broncos, you were going to stay at the best hotels and have the best food," Sharpe said. "That's just how Mr. B does things. I hear people talking about whether he can spend all this money on free agents. They've already done that. They just gave the money to the wrong guys."

That list would include Travis Henry, Dale Carter, Daryl Gardener and, more recently, Niko Koutouvides and Keary Colbert, just to name a few. If Shanahan's downfall proved anything, it's this: Free agency can be a good thing, but it's no way to build a team.

For more proof, we take you to the Meadowlands exit on the Jersey Turnpike, where the Giants won the Super Bowl last season. During the previous offseason, they signed one free agent for near-minimum money. Their 2007 payroll? According to USA Today, it was $75,755,388, the lowest in the league by about $8 million.

Moral to the story: It isn't who spends the most in today's NFL. It's the team that spends the wisest.

The Broncos, according to USA Today, were 15th in payroll in 2007 at $102,152,344. Last season, they were 27th at $95,599,778. Now for the fine print: Four of the top five spending teams Oakland, Dallas, Cleveland and New Orleans didn't make the playoffs, but the Colts (29th) and Ravens (31st) did.

"Free agency has proven one thing: You've got to build through the draft," Sharpe said. "The problem with going after a Jared Allen in free agency is that he can't bring the rest of the Vikings' defense with him. Just because a guy had success one place doesn't mean he's going to have success in Denver. I think they've finally figured that out."


How the players rank NFL teams


Pat Bowlen calls the Broncos' head coaching vacancy "a very attractive one," and a 2007 survey conducted by the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton Sports Business Initiative proves his point. The survey included 1,440 NFL players, roughly 80 percent of those active in '07. Here's a look at where those players ranked the best organizations in the league:

1. Patriots

2. Colts

3. Cowboys

4. Packers

5. Steelers

6. Broncos

7. Ravens

8. Seahawks

9. Bears

10. Titans

11. Redskins

12. Panthers

13. Eagles

14. Jaguars

15. Chargers

16. Buccaneers

17. Texans

18. Chiefs

19. 49ers

20. Falcons

21. Saints

22. Giants

23. Vikings

24. Rams

25. Jets

26. Bills

27. Lions

28. Bengals

29. Browns

30. Cardinals

31. Dolphins

32. Raiders
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Old 01-11-2009, 11:39 AM   #2
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Old 01-11-2009, 11:43 AM   #3
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Poor, poor Sparkies and Mullets.....
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Old 01-11-2009, 12:54 PM   #4
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After listening to Jim Armstrong on the radio over the last year, i classify him as a complete and total moron. I used to read him and be under the impression that he was probably somewhat qualified for his job, but not anymore. Anyone else think he sucks?
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Old 01-11-2009, 01:04 PM   #5
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Paying a HC only 2 million doesn't make for a prize job, regardless of what other things are present.
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Old 01-11-2009, 01:15 PM   #6
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Paying a HC only 2 million doesn't make for a prize job, regardless of what other things are present.

Indeed. If Pat is indeed doing that, you gotta know he has slid down more than a few spots in the "best to work for" rankings. He wants a guy who is 10s but doesnt want to pay for it.
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Old 01-11-2009, 01:45 PM   #7
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Meh....Who would want to work for a 'gutless drunk'?
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Old 01-11-2009, 02:28 PM   #8
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Paying a HC only 2 million doesn't make for a prize job, regardless of what other things are present.
The article that mentioned he was in the $2M range on salary also commented that it was league average for head coaches in the NFL.

So why would Bowlen come out and say "No matter who I hire, I'll make damn sure to overpay them."?

The rumor was basically that he was looking to pay league average, which is what everyone is looking to do when they need to hire an employee. Its when you find someone you value more than the rest who requires more than average to sign that you go up in price.

If McDaniels or Morris is their preference and the one they like will sign for $2M then great. If they prefer Spagnuolo and he wants $4M though? I doubt that'll stop Bowlen from stepping to the plate. But they aren't going to say "We got $4M a year for a HC" just so McDaniels' or Morris' agent can have them over a barrel.
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Old 01-11-2009, 02:30 PM   #9
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The type of coach that Bowlen is going after will see Denver as a prize job. 2 million for an up-comer is great, but even better is the chance to actually succeed. That leads to MUCH bigger pay days down the road.
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Old 01-11-2009, 02:37 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by Drek View Post
The article that mentioned he was in the $2M range on salary also commented that it was league average for head coaches in the NFL.

So why would Bowlen come out and say "No matter who I hire, I'll make damn sure to overpay them."?

The rumor was basically that he was looking to pay league average, which is what everyone is looking to do when they need to hire an employee. Its when you find someone you value more than the rest who requires more than average to sign that you go up in price.

If McDaniels or Morris is their preference and the one they like will sign for $2M then great. If they prefer Spagnuolo and he wants $4M though? I doubt that'll stop Bowlen from stepping to the plate. But they aren't going to say "We got $4M a year for a HC" just so McDaniels' or Morris' agent can have them over a barrel.
Except Bowlen said he wants a coach thats a 10 in every category and one that will help him win a super bowl. If he foregoes the coach who is closest to 10s and hires someone because theyre cheaper, that means Pat is talking out of both sides of his mouth.
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Old 01-11-2009, 02:38 PM   #11
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The type of coach that Bowlen is going after will see Denver as a prize job. 2 million for an up-comer is great, but even better is the chance to actually succeed. That leads to MUCH bigger pay days down the road.
But again, Pat said he wants a coach who is 10s in all categories and the one who can best help him win a super bowl. He didnt say anything about the greatest bang for the buck.
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Old 01-11-2009, 02:39 PM   #12
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This IS Pat's business. If he feels the coach is worth it he's not going to skimp on the costs. He knows playoffs and Super Bowls are big money worth the investment.
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Old 01-11-2009, 02:41 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Drek View Post
The article that mentioned he was in the $2M range on salary also commented that it was league average for head coaches in the NFL.

So why would Bowlen come out and say "No matter who I hire, I'll make damn sure to overpay them."?

I'm not sure where the article got that proposition. It seems to me that from this source, 3.0 million per year seems to be around the average.

http://wiki.answers.com/Q/What_are_t...L_head_coaches

In addition, guys like Spags for example are already making around 2m per year. I think Garrett is making even more. That Bowlen has to pay Shanny and the current staff is not the new coach's problem.

I agree with lex that its hypocritical to say I want a guy who is a 10 in every category but then to pay him clearly below average. But then again, I should not have assumed that Pat was thinking logically.
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Old 01-11-2009, 02:43 PM   #14
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Hows this:
Bonus for making the playoff?

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Old 01-11-2009, 02:44 PM   #15
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Lex thinks Bowlen has black candidates since they will work for less. And you want to use him in your argument that Bowlen is illogical, SoCal?

You can't use full retard as evidence. Everyone knows you only go half retard.
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Old 01-11-2009, 02:47 PM   #16
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Lex thinks Bowlen has black candidates since they will work for less. And you want to use him in your argument that Bowlen is illogical, SoCal?

You can't use full retard as evidence. Everyone knows you only go half retard.
I'm not using "lex" as my argument. I am agreeing with his point that it is hypocritical for Bowlen to say I want a perfect 10 and then go out and offer a below average contract. You get what you pay for.

It has nothing to do with lex. His point stands on its own two feet.
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Old 01-11-2009, 02:48 PM   #17
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I'm not using "lex" as my argument. I am agreeing with his point that it is hypocritical for Bowlen to say I want a perfect 10 and then go out and offer a below average contract. You get what you pay for.

It has nothing to do with lex. His point stands on its own two feet.
I know I just wanted you to quote me so he would see I called him full retard. He put me on ignore last night because I said I can't wait to watch his meltdown if they hire McDaniels. It will almost be as good as the draft day one he had.

Sorry I totally used you!
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Old 01-11-2009, 03:19 PM   #18
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I know its not politically correct to acknowledge that there are differences in black and white people, and furthermore, I know it makes some people uncomfortable. But in case people havent noticed, theres been a big thing recently about the number of head coaches and a lack of opportunities. With that in mind, it shouldnt come as a surprise that a black candidate would feel the extra pressure to take a job for less. If they feel this pressure then its an economic reality that Pat benefits from looking more at minority candidates financially. The other part of it is that Pat is looking at guys who are young. Basically, someone without a big resume that comes with price expectations. Lets face it, its entirely possible, if not likely, that Pat wants to look for someone who is cheap more than he wants to find someone who is all 10s. Pat may hope theyre 10s but its possible that he is looking at guys because he knows theyre cheaper.
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Old 01-11-2009, 03:22 PM   #19
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I have to say, our media guys have really been putting out the PR for the Denver job. It may well be the cream of the crop among job openings in the league but the local media has gone far and above expectations in pumping the Denver organization up.

And SoCal, a perfect 10 coach could come cheaply. You dont know how any of these guys are going to do. You were too young to remember anythign but Shanahan so your jaded bitterness and flat out whining is getting old. Just shut the **** up already.

Morris, Frazier, Spags, McDaniels (a horrible ****ign choice but the one you want for some stupid reason) all could come in and be perfect 10s and NONE of them would cost what Shanahan was costing.

So its not hypocritical. Not all things expensive are made of gold and not all things "cheap" are worthless.
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Old 01-11-2009, 03:24 PM   #20
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And SoCal, a perfect 10 coach could come cheaply. You dont know how any of these guys are going to do. You were too young to remember anythign but Shanahan so your jaded bitterness and flat out whining is getting old. Just shut the **** up already.

.
I was a fan of this team before Shanahan was hired as head coach in Jan, 1995.

Regarding your latter suggestion, I'll say whatever I damn feel whenever the **** I want to.

Deal with it.
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Old 01-11-2009, 03:25 PM   #21
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I know its not politically correct to acknowledge that there are differences in black and white people, and furthermore, I know it makes some people uncomfortable. But in case people havent noticed, theres been a big thing recently about the number of head coaches and a lack of opportunities. With that in mind, it shouldnt come as a surprise that a black candidate would feel the extra pressure to take a job for less. If they feel this pressure then its an economic reality that Pat benefits from looking more at minority candidates financially. The other part of it is that Pat is looking at guys who are young. Basically, someone without a big resume that comes with price expectations. Lets face it, its entirely possible, if not likely, that Pat wants to look for someone who is cheap more than he wants to find someone who is all 10s. Pat may hope theyre 10s but its possible that he is looking at guys because he knows theyre cheaper.
I can't imagine any first time head coach would really squabble about money unless he had multiple offers. There's only 32 of these jobs and you never know when they are gonna come (its a fickle league). If you make your mark, more money will come. Not to mention, it'll be a raise (no matter how modest) from their old job. I sincerely doubt money will get in the way if the fit is good.
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Old 01-11-2009, 03:30 PM   #22
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When asked about the cost of firing one set of coaches and hiring another, Bowlen said, "That's my business."
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Old 01-11-2009, 06:03 PM   #23
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I was a fan of this team before Shanahan was hired as head coach in Jan, 1995.

Regarding your latter suggestion, I'll say whatever I damn feel whenever the **** I want to.

Deal with it.
Oh, so you are a liar too. You said you put me on ignore.
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Old 01-11-2009, 06:07 PM   #24
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Oh, so you are a liar too. You said you put me on ignore.
I did have you on ignore for a long time.
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