Broncos hire new special teams coordinator, fill several other assistant coach openings

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Broncos coach Vance Joseph is going with experience, hiring Tom McMahon to replace Brock Olivo as special teams coordinator.

Joseph gave Olivo his first shot at coaching special teams last season, but Dave Toub’s longtime assistant in Kansas City oversaw one of the worst special teams in the league and was among six assistants Joseph fired last week.

Rookie punt returner Isaiah McKenzie fumbled six times but kept his job for most of the season, a sore spot with several veterans who felt there was a sense of privilege among members of the 2017 draft class.

Olivo’s units had trouble getting the right personnel onto the field, twice telegraphing trick plays because of it, and they were even flagged for delays on kickoffs.

Denver’s special teams gaffes led to 24 points by the Patriots in New England’s 41-16 win on Nov. 12 and Joseph drew criticism the next day for sticking with Olivo.

Olivo was one of six assistants fired after a 5-11 season when Joseph said he needed to “change the culture” on offense and special teams.

McMahon is a 26-year coaching veteran who has coached NFL special teams for the last 11 seasons, including the past five in Indianapolis, Kansas City in 2012 and St. Louis from 2009 to 2011.

The Colts featured one of the league’s most consistently solid special teams units during McMahon’s five seasons in Indianapolis.

He became available after the Colts fired coach Chuck Pagano last week.

Joseph praised McMahon’s “direct teaching style that emphasizes fundamentals,” noting he ‘has a proven track record developing young players on special teams that will bring leadership and energy to this important phase of our team.”

Joseph also hired ex-Colts assistant Greg Williams to coach the defensive backs. Williams has 15 years of coaching experience, including nine in the NFL. He coached defensive backs in Indianapolis the past two seasons.

Joseph promoted Chris Strausser, an assistant offensive line coach under Jeff Davidson last year.

Strausser will coach the tackles with Sean Kugler coaching the guards and centers in a new setup along the offensive line, which has been the Broncos’ bugaboo going back to Peyton Manning’s time in Denver.

Last year’s first-round draft pick, left tackle Garett Bolles, was among the league’s leaders in penalties and often allowed an early mistake to affect him and the team adversely the rest of the game.

Joseph also hired Zach Azzanni as receivers coach. Azzanni spent the 2017 season with the Chicago Bears during his first season as an NFL coach.

Before that, he spent 18 years as a college football coach.