Mike Munchak, who had been a finalist for Denver’s head coaching job, is making a lateral move from the Pittsburgh Steelers to serve as the Broncos’ new offensive line coach.
“There’s nobody better as an offensive line coach than Mike Munchak,” new coach Vic Fangio said Monday. “The combination of his ability to coach the individual with his ability to coach the group, while also being a big part of the overall offense, is very impressive. Mike’s experience and stature as a coach in the NFL make this a home run hire for us.”
The Broncos also are allowing Gary Kubiak to interview elsewhere and have received permission to interview 49ers QBs coach Rich Scangarello for their offensive coordinator opening, a person with knowledge of the situation told The Associated Press. The person spoke on the condition of anonymity Monday because the Broncos haven’t publicly commented on their offensive coordinator situation.
Kubiak, 57, who helped general manager John Elway hit the jackpot in the 2018 NFL draft while serving as his senior personnel adviser , was expected to run Denver’s offense in 2019.
The Broncos decided not to bring back the old schemes and staff that Kubiak had in mind, however. So, the Broncos are letting Kubiak interview for OC vacancies in Jacksonville and Minnesota after initially blocking other teams from interviewing him.
In Munchak, the Broncos get another seasoned coach. At 58, he’s two years younger than Fangio, a fellow native of Pennsylvania.
A former head coach in Tennessee, Munchak was a finalist to replace Vance Joseph , but Elway chose Fangio after being won over by his “death by inches” ethos regarding accountability.
Munchak instead gets the chance to fix the Broncos’ chronically leaky O-line.
Last year, the Broncos lost three interior starting linemen to injuries and ended up using a guard at center and four tackles down the stretch.
Munchak was a nine-time Pro Bowl selection as a guard for the Houston Oilers from 1982-93 and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2001, three years before Elway’s enshrinement. After his playing career, Munchak joined the Oilers’ coaching staff in 1994, beginning a two-decade career that included a stint as head coach from 2011-13.
He spent the last five seasons coaching Pittsburgh’s offensive line, and the Steelers have compiled a 54-25-1 record over that span.
The Broncos had split up their O-line duties last season between Sean Kugler (guards and centers) and Chris Strausser (tackles) but 2017 first-round draft pick Garett Bolles was still flagged for 11 holding penalties, one more than he had as a rookie.
If he does return to the sideline in 2019, Kubiak would want to take along his longtime assistants Rick Dennison and Brian Pariani, two coaches who weren’t retained in Denver after Kubiak stepped down as head coach following the 2016 season, citing health concerns.
Kubiak suffered what the Broncos called a “complex migraine condition” in 2016 and was transported via ambulance from the stadium to the hospital for the second time in three years. He also collapsed at halftime of a game in Houston in 2013 while he was coaching the Texans, and doctors diagnosed a mini-stroke.
Kubiak hasn’t publicly discussed how he’d be ready to return to the grind of coaching or if he’d be limited in any way because of his health.