John Elway is dreaming of better times.
The Hall of Fame quarterback and Denver general manager had secret meetings with former coach Mike Shanahan about possibly replacing struggling coach Vance Joseph, according to an explosive report that surfaced just after Joseph’s latest blunder in Saturday’s loss to the Browns.
Elway and Shanahan had met a year ago to discuss a scenario where Shanahan, a two-time Super Bowl champion coach with the Broncos, could return to the sidelines and coach the Broncos, the Denver Post reported, citing sources.
Elway was spit-balling a vision that involved firing Joseph after his first season with the Broncos, in which he went 5-11 in 2017, and bringing in Kirk Cousins at quarterback. Cousins, according to the report, met with Shanahan — who coached him in Washington — and would have come to the Broncos if the coaching switch had been made. When it did not, Cousins signed with the Vikings, and the Broncos settled on Case Keenum.
The reunion hadn’t made much progress when Broncos CEO Joe Ellis nixed the idea. Ellis wanted Elway to conduct a nationwide search, which ended in Elway letting Joseph stay on for another season.
Joseph’s return hasn’t worked out the way the Broncos probably envisioned, their latest debacle coming through Joseph’s decision-making on Saturday. With the Broncos down 17-13 late in the fourth quarter, Joseph elected to kick a field goal with Brandon McManus on fourth-and-1 on the Browns’ 12-yard line.
“I just wanted the points there,” said Joseph defending himself. “… It was my decision — take points.”
The Broncos lost 17-16 and dropped to 6-8, with their playoff hopes barely alive and Joseph’s job on the line.
Shanahan, now 66, said in 2015 that he would be interested in coaching again but on his terms. He last coached the Redskins in 2013.