Sports Football

Elway will include Manning in search for Broncos’ next coach

By Ken Fidlin, Toronto Sun

Peyton Manning will help in the search to replace head coach John Fox, although it’s uncertain Manning will return.

Peyton Manning will help in the search to replace head coach John Fox, although it’s uncertain Manning will return.

TORONTO - 

John Elway says Peyton Manning will be involved in the search for a head coach to replace John Fox, who parted ways with the Denver Broncos on Monday.

Thing is, Elway, the Broncos president, can’t be certain that Manning will get to actually play for the new coach, whoever it turns out to be.

With Elway’s blessing, Manning will take a few weeks to put this past season behind him before addressing his willingness, or not, to continue playing for a 17th season in 2015. The Broncos’ season ended on Sunday when they were eliminated in the AFC division playoff by the Indianapolis Colts.

“We want Peyton back,” Elway said. “It’s going to come back to what Peyton wants to do. Only Peyton knows what his body feels. I can’t speak for him and I won’t.”

Manning was ineffective late in the season and it was reported on Monday that the quarterback had played with a strained quad muscle since mid-December.

Elway said that offensive co-ordinator Adam Gase and defensive co-ordinator Jack Del Rio are both among candidates to replace Fox, although Del Rio, a Bay area native, has been invited back for a second interview with the Oakland Raiders. Adam Schefter, of ESPN, reported on Tuesday that the Broncos will seek permission to interview Baltimore offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak, as well. Kubiak and Elway go a long way back, with Kubiak serving as backup to Elway for nine seasons. Kubiak was the head coach of the Houston Texans for eight seasons before being fired in December of 2013.

For his part, Fox isn’t letting any moss grow under his feet. It was reported Tuesday that he will be interviewed by the Chicago Bears for their vacant head coaching position.

Elway said he and Fox “disagreed on how to get to the next level” and decided to part ways.

SCHWARTZ OUT

After being passed over for the head coaching job in Buffalo, it’s no surprise that defensive co-ordinator Jim Schwartz is moving on. Head coach Rex Ryan is believed to be ready to hire ex-Jets DC Dennis Thurman for the same position with the Bills.

Schwartz will have no difficulty finding work in the league as a DC. Under him, the Bills have become one of the premier defensive units in the NFL. he was also head coach of the Detroit Lions for five seasons until being let go at the end of 2013.

PANTHERS STAND PAT

After a late-season surge perhaps saved his own job, Carolina Panthers head coach Ron Rivera says there will be no changes on his coaching staff.

At the end of November, the Panthers were 3-8 but they rallied to win their final four regular season games and the NFC South title. They knocked off Arizona in a wild card game before falling to Seattle by 14 points on Saturday in a game where they played well.

“I think my satisfaction level is going to be based on those last six games,” Rivera said “I’m looking at those last six games. I’m looking at the beginning to where we are. I’m looking at why we were where we were the first 12 games.”

If anyone on the staff was vulnerable, it was Richard Rodgers, the special teams coach. The Panthers special teams play was dismal at times but Rodgers survived even though the Panthers averaged 5.3 yards per punt return and allowed 14.4 yards per return. They averaged 19.3 yards per kickoff return compared with their opponent’s 31.5 yards per return. Kicker Graham Gano missed three field goals and the field-goal unit also allowed Seattle’s Kam Chancellor to leap over the line on consecutive attempts in their playoff loss.

Panthers GM Dave Gettleman is looking for improvements through free agency. The Panthers have plenty of room under the salary cap and could have as much as $15 million to spend this off-season.

“Last year we were shopping at the dollar store,” Gettleman said. “This year, we might be able to move up in class a little bit.”

At the end of 2013, because of salary cap issues, Carolina released veteran receiver Steve Smith, the team’s career leader. they also lost three other receivers and several defensive backs to free agency.

GARRETT’S NEW DEAL

Two days after their gut-wrenching elimination from the Super Bowl tournament by Green Bay, the Dallas Cowboys and Jason Garrett have agreed to a new five-year contract. It’s expected that Garrett’s entire coaching staff will be retained and that includes defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli, who had been rumoured to be headed to Tampa Bay. Marinelli has reportedly agreed to a three-year deal with the Cowboys.

“When things don’t work out for you, there are a lot of different emotions,” Garrett said of Sunday’s bitter loss, made moreso by a replay reversal of what had appeared to be a legit catch by Dez Bryant on a fourth-down play late in the game. “Anger, disgust, all of those things are a part of it. But I’m just so proud of this group and the fight that they demonstrated week in and week out, play in and play out throughout this ball game.

“Unfortunately we came up short, but I walk out of this locker room with head held high and shoulders back because it’s a hell of a football team.”

Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones told KRLD-FM that “absolutely” a priority this off-season is adding a pass-rushing defensive end.

“That offensive side of the football, when you have six-plus Pro Bowlers over there, they have a good group,” Jones said. “Our goal going into the off-season is to upgrade on the defensive side of the ball.”

That offensive side of the ball could be depleted unless the Cowboys can re-sign free-agent running back DeMarco Murray, who led all NFL rushers by a wide margin with 1,845 yards in 2014. 


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