Broncos talk with Vikings' Frazier

Updated: January 7, 2009, 5:38 PM ET
Associated Press

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- Broncos owner Pat Bowlen has interviewed a half dozen candidates to replace Mike Shanahan, three from each side of the ball.

Minnesota Vikings assistant Leslie Frazier on Wednesday became the third defensive coordinator to meet with Bowlen about the vacancy, joining Steve Spagnuolo of the New York Giants and Raheem Morris of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

The three offensive coordinators who have interviewed for the post are Jason Garrett of the Dallas Cowboys, Josh McDaniels of the New England Patriots and Rick Dennison, Shanahan's longtime deputy in Denver.

There's one more candidate scheduled to interview. Dolphins secondary coach Todd Bowles will visit with the Broncos' brain trust on Thursday.

After that, Bowlen and his team of advisers could move quickly to offer the job to one of the seven hopefuls or start a second wave of interviews.

Among the more intriguing possibilities for further courting is Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops, whose second-ranked Sooners face No. 1 Florida in the BCS championship Thursday night.

Stoops has demurred when asked about the Broncos this week, although he acknowledges he's intrigued by coaching in the NFL someday. Bowlen received his business and law degrees from Oklahoma and is a big fan of Stoops, who was invited to attend the Broncos' training camp two summers ago.

Bowlen stunned the NFL with his firing last week of Shanahan, one of only six coaches in league history to win back-to-back Super Bowls -- and the only one to later get fired by the team he led to those titles.

Frazier's credentials might be just what Bowlen is looking for. He's coached a dominant unit in Minnesota the past two years, when the Vikings led the league in rushing defense by allowing just 74.1 yards a game in 2007 and 76.9 yards last season.

The Broncos' run defense has been porous ever since Larry Coyer was fired as defensive coordinator after the 2006 season and replaced by Jim Bates, who lasted less than a year before being supplanted by Bob Slowik.

The Broncos, however, suffered a rash of injuries, including ones that sidelined co-captains Champ Bailey and D.J. Williams. They spent the first month and a half experimenting with a 3-4 look and tried out six different free safeties. The result was a measly 13 takeaways and an NFL-high 448 points allowed.

Shanahan was 146-91 with the Broncos, but just 24-24 since losing the 2005 AFC title game to Pittsburgh. The three-year stretch without making the playoffs is the proud franchise's longest drought in 26 years, and this year the Broncos became the first team to blow a three-game division lead with three weeks left.

Forty-eight hours after the season ended at 8-8, Bowlen summoned Shanahan into his office to fire his close friend, who had three years and $21 million left on his contract.

Despite fortifying an offense that looks promising behind Pro Bowl quarterback Jay Cutler, Shanahan's legacy took a hit over the last few seasons because of his poor personnel decisions and bad drafts on defense.

For years, Bowlen had said Shanahan could coach his team as long as he wanted, but he finally grew tired of somebody else running his franchise and decided to split those duties. So, Bowlen said he'll start searching for a general manager after he hires a coach.

Shanahan has said he'll probably sit out the upcoming season before returning to coaching. He'll collect his $7 million salary from the Broncos while watching somebody else fix Denver's dreadful defense and fine-tune a promising offense that was his hallmark.


Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press

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